Tony Oursler’s spooky Baroque at the 2011 PAC Milan exhibition/*
December 30th, 2011
Tony Oursler is a contemporary example of the type of technologist-entertainers art historian Barbara Stafford calls “technomancers”, scientifically informed thaumaturges that use digital effects to produce heightened sensorial experiences that bring the visitor to the brink of the spiritually bizarre. A wonderland of spectral apparitions, Oursler’s work is where garden meets cutting edge projection trickery, using sculpture as an animated surface, thrusting dimensional color in the dark space of the gallery. Under the guise of avant garde multimedia, eminently contemporary, art, Oursler’s work most closely resembles the 18th century phantasmagoria shows of Jean-Gaspard Robertson, who awed post-Revolutionary Paris with his elaborate magic lantern technology, projecting the wispy ghosts of guillotined aristocrats onto mirrors and smoke in the ruins of a convent, showcased by a performance that incorporated newly discovered electrical effects and a “magical” ritual inspired by the ancient Eleusinian Mysteries. Oursler’s installations are less interactive, but demonstrate the same fascination with the spectral transformation and deformation of the human form: bubble heads with giant eyes and mouth, decapitated talking heads, heads wreathed in vapours, flickering lights.
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