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The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Galerie Dennis Cooper presents … Tony Oursler

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‘Blob is a funny word, an ugly thing. It’s alive and nobody knows why. Maybe it came from outer space or it came from a science experiment gone bad or from pollution or from the sea or out of a really sick body. It never stops moving, moving all around with no place to go. When will it die. It can’t die by any means known to man at this moment.

‘What’s your gut reaction? “Gut reaction” is an American term for your first response to things before you examine the facts intellectually. When you see the blob your gut reaction is: you want it to be gone, you want it to die.

‘The blob’s movements are alien yet oddly familiar. Pulling and stretching. Like peristaltic movement. Like the way things move through your body by contractions which result in locomotion. You understand this is linked to your bowels and intestines because even though this motion is involuntary, it is conscious on some level. It is essentially a wave, the universal form of energy transmission divided into peeks and troughs like a bad ocean. Unending waves, wave after wave, wash away your shape. Now formless. You are the blob.

‘Now, you want to help the blob.

‘With its transparent skin, the blob exposes its muscles, organs, blood flow. The banal workings of the organism are revealed in fragile detail. How embarrassing. To encounter the blob is to see the simple, low ambitions that sustain life with no greater purpose. The blob can only and merely exist, it is useless. Whatever happens inside the blob should be hidden, should remain private.

‘The blob can be funny like any mutation, a dead end creature in the chain of evolution. And in the food chain, it has no niche, no other life form feeds on the blob. It’s a disturbing creature because it is unique A Monster that could kill you like a cancer, a devolution of cells. Here is the nightmare scenario: a terratoma analogous to you, an evil negative offspring replaces you the host. A formless double, the blob kills you when it takes up residence within.

‘When you gaze at the blob, your eye no longer has a focal point because the blob has no focal point. You see right into it. You may keep loosing your sight in a myopic blur. In this way the blob can escape even though it moves very slowly and with no apparent direction.

‘In the movie, “The Blob,” the ruby colored nemeses could be a sign of the counter culture, the erotic, psychedelic, loud, political, chaos impending into the serene, the anxious cold war America of the 1950’s.

‘The blob is scary because we do not understand it nor do we easily recognize it. Always changing shape, it’s more like a spill than a sphere. It’s like part of a fat person that escaped and came to life. It’s like Jell-O or slime or mold.’ — Tony Oursler

 

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Further

Tony Oursler Official Website
Tony Oursler @ Metro Pictures
Tony Oursler @ Lehmann Maupin
Tony Oursler @ Electronic Arts Intermix
‘The Uncanny World of Tony Oursler’
Carlo McCormick ‘The Pathology of Projections & Cynical Spiritualism’
Tony Oursler ‘Sixth Wall’
Philip K. Dick & Tony Oursler ‘Psychomimetiscape’
TO interview by Alan Licht @ Bomb
Tony Oursler’s ‘The Presence Project’
Re: Tony Oursler’s ‘Mud Opera’
Re: Tony Oursler’s ‘The Influence Machine’
Tony Oursler books @ Amazon

 

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Bowie/Oursler


David Bowie/Tony Oursler Where Are We Now? (Official Music Video)

‘My first actual contact with David was like a shock of energy, fully charged with the magic of media, music, and glamour. It was as if he had somehow bilocated between our world and one of myth and didn’t fully exist in the same space as ordinary earthlings. Of course, this was all in my mind, and my reaction said much about the delusions of popular culture. Somehow this giant I’d been listening to and watching with such admiration since forever was in my studio in person. It was hard to reconcile fantasy with flesh. Later, I would notice that this was a common effect of David’s presence, sometimes with hilarious results. I remember seeing a Jasper Johns exhibition at MoMA with David, his wife Iman, and the artist Linda Post. David sauntered through the show, busily discussing the art and holding forth like we were in a bubble, while the focus of everyone around us shifted from the art to him. Finally, as we were leaving the museum, a group of women surrounded David and began touching him, as if in a spontaneous frenzy of admiration.

‘That was in the late ’90s, in the early stages of a friendship that lasted more than twenty years. At that time I was living in a hovel of a studio at 175 Ludlow Street, on the Lower East Side. During David’s first visit, it took me at least an hour to calm down. As it turns out, behind the star power, he was almost a regular guy. Except that he was David Bowie, after all, who appeared to have different-colored eyes and who had that voice. I still remember fragments of our first conversations: We both agreed from experience that drugs are bad. While he was chain-smoking and sipping coffee, his thoughts ricocheted, much like his career, from music and film to books, art history, and comics, and back again. He was humble about his accomplishments (saying of his work, “One can pluck a few peppercorns from the shit”), and his humor was unforgettable, as was his deep laugh, often accompanied by a conspiratorial sideways grin. Friends asked me why he came to my studio, and at first I honestly didn’t know. It took me a while to understand that he loved art, from discussing how it was made to seeing how artists lived and worked. And it turned out that David wanted to interject some of my work into his lexicon. Much of what we did together became very public—videos can be found on the Internet—but some has never been seen.’ — Tony Oursler, Artforum

 

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Etc.


Excerpt from ‘Perfect Partner’ by T.O., Kim Gordon, & Phil Morrison (2006)


Excerpt from an early T.O. film ‘The Loner’ (1980)


Tony Oursler on the art of video projection

 

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Interview

from designboom

 

In video art, what is ‘projection’ for you?

Tony Oursler: Physics tell us we see light, not objects. For me projection is ‘inner thoughts projected outward onto the world’ and the viewer is a collaborator of the artist. The exposes the gender of reaction to the artwork, finishing it.

Please describe an evolution in your work, from your first projects to the present day.

TO: My projects are more focused now than they were in the past. I’m comfortable with a lot of different mediums that I wasn’t so comfortable with early on. I’m sort of claiming back certain things. I started twenty years ago with photography, drawing and painting and now I’m trying to round them back into my work. It’s been an interesting elliptical process. I think an artist’s life is kind of like a snowball, picking up stuff as you go. everything’s on the outside of the snowball and sometimes you have to burrow in to get the old stuff.

Reality’s something we’re not getting from reality; it’s something people are looking for to entertain them. There’s been this reversal where the powers that be have funneled reality into the entertainment sphere and entertainment has been funneled into the sphere of policymaking.

TO: I’d always looked toward pop culture to decipher things as a mirror of the world, and now I don’t at all, because I know who the creators are, and I can see through what they’re trying to do, so it doesn’t work on me at all. I wish it did. In a weird way, I miss it. There was a time when I used to look at pop culture and take it apart piece by piece to figure out how the magic American engine worked. I was very paranoid and full of conspiracy theories. But now I just look at it as a bunch of morons who are barely getting by, just pushing the buttons on this machine that’s rolling forward. The people have the power of production in their hands, yet the good stuff is yet to be made. The most boring things I just don’t get: people who are fascinated by Paris Hilton, phenomena like that, someone who does nothing and becomes a celebrity, or even worse the city destroyer Trump.

What books do you have on your bedside table?

TO: That’s a good question. I’m a bibliomaniac, so I collect books. At any given moment I might have one book about spiritualism, another like a thriller and one about the military. There is one about the alternative new-age military culture that happened after vietnam when they introduced psychic activities to warfare, trying to kill people through thought.

Describe your style, like a good friend of yours would describe it.

TO: My friend once said I was like the Picasso of video and that was a very flattering, stylistic comment. My other friends probably call me sloppy… and insane.

The Christian Right is afraid that religion is going to be replaced by technology—that a computer can deal in absolutes better than a spiritual leader can. If you think about it, the Moral Majority got firmly embedded in the Republican Party around 1980, which is when computers started becoming more popular. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. Organized religion in this country has been very worried since then that religion’s really going to go out the window.

TO: I like the feeling of reaching progress through technology; I wish it could be true. I hope so for my son. When I wrote my timeline on virtual media around 2000, I realized that as a video artist there was no art history written for me. All this stuff that plugged in or moved or had anything to do with light was very finicky; curators, if a bulb broke or something, just put the piece in a box in the basement. It was much easier for them to put paintings and photographs on the walls, so those of us in video were left with no history of virtual image production. It goes all the way back to the first mention of the camera obscura in a Chinese poem around the year 1000. The image was upside down and associated with the dark side of human nature from the start. Anytime there’s a new kind of technology there’s this association with evil or death, so I think your theory is correct. It’s true of every human invention: rock ’n’ roll, it’s the devil’s music; photography, there was spirit photography; the radio, it was Constantine Raudive who did that tuning into the dead radio; and television, there are lots of examples, but the people who believed they could communicate with the spirit world through technology were really rebels. They took the tools and put them to personal radical use rather than be sublimated by them.

What are you afraid of regarding the future?

TO: I guess death, taxes and fascism. Actually I don’t know.

 

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Show

___________________
Part. 1: works at a (relative) standstill

 

________________
Part 2: works in motion


Guilty (1995)


Slip (2003)


Cigarettes (2009)


Star (2003)


Pain (2008)


Switch (2010)


Vampiric Battle (2009)


Judy (1994)


various works (2008)


Cave-in (2010)


Untitled Work with Money (2008)


Frog (2005)


E*Nel (2016)


Caricature (2002)
—-

 

*

p.s. Hey. ** Armando, Hi! Oh, it was my honor and pleasure entirely, sir. I’m happy that you finally managed to see the comments, and I apologise on behalf of this blog’s seemingly unsolvable glitches. And I’m loving your novel as I tear through it, surely needless to say. And RIP Max von Sydow, yes. ‘Hour of the Wolf!’ My fave. ** Shane Christmass, Hi, Shane. Good to see you, man. I’m doing all right. I still haven’t read Gary’s memoir for no good reason whatsoever, weird. I’m going to finally score that. I hope the formulating goes excitingly. How does that work for you — a novel’s conceptual beginnings? Do you haver a process or way to starting novels that seems to work especially well for you, or do you change that part up, or … ? ** David Ehrenstein, Hi, sir. ** Bill, It’s a very chewy sentence though. Excellent, thank you! About the post! Sure am curious and looking forward. I so hope the health blipping de-escalates to zip any second. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Thanks for congratulating Armando. ** Dom Lyne, Hi, Dom! Super sweet to see you! Thanks for your generous and thoughtful words and attention to the post and Armando’s novel. I hadn’t realised you’d stopped doing readings. Was there a reason? In any case, I’m glad you’re enjoying them, and, consequently, doing them. I’m sorry about the split with Seb, although you sound very revved up and okay with that, so I’m glad the break was an outbreak. All of what you wrote makes sense to me. I think I’ve sworn off romantic relationships for good, or it feels that way while knowing that one never knows. Really appreciating friendships and not feeling like anything more makes any sense or something. Curious. You do sound really good, and I’m really glad that you feel that way too. Cool, man. I’m good, working on my stuff and enjoying things pretty much in general. Love and big hugs back! ** Misanthrope, That mania for toilet paper and bottled water is not happening here at all. Things are getting cancelled more and more. After ‘banning’ events with 5000+ attendees the govt just reduced that to 1000+ attendees, although I think it’s optional. I keep waiting for the lockdown announcement now that all of Italy is on lockdown, but it still feels relatively chill here, as of this morning, I should say. Best of the best of luck at the doctor’s. Do give a post-visit heads-up please. ** Steve Erickson, Is there a way that you, a person so drawn to the visual, can find some kind of interesting oddness and even peace of sorts at being temporarily deprived? ** Tim Sandel, Hi, Tim. Welcome! Thank you very much for coming in and showing Armando’s book support. ** Okay. Today I turn my galerie over to that charmer Tony Oursler. Have the particular fun that his work is geared to provide. See you tomorrow.

8 Comments

  1. Hey,

    Oh, man; it just meant and means so extremely much to me.

    Are you really really really serious about liking the book so far??? Be careful; if you are you might cause to get an “ego”…

    It was ALL thanks to George. He took the time and effort to copy ALL novel-related posts and comments and paste them in our fb messenger conversation; so I could reply to them. We really do have a treasure with adorable good ol George.

    Love, Hugs,

    Good day, good luck,

    a.

  2. Things took a major downhill turn today as I came today with the stomach flu. You can guess what I feared I had contracted, and I called my doctor’s office, described the symptoms and went to the emergency room on his orders to get tested for coronavirus. I still feel like crap, but it’s a relief that I don’t have it! However, I sent out an E-mail to a friend whom I was with yesterday telling him that I thought I might have coronavirus and contacted him when I got the news that I didn’t. He started screaming at me about my hypochondria, and I looked over the e-mail and realized that it was horribly vague and badly worded, with no mention that I went to the e.r. on my doctor’s orders (and also because he refused to see me in person.) or a description of how bad my symptoms were. I can see how it might read like “tee hee, I have a runny nose, I think I have corona.virus” I hope we can repair our friendship. I thought I was being responsible by giving him a heads-up, but he told me I should’ve waited till I had a definite answer. I can see the merits of that now, but I was on the verge of a panic attack and convinced I had corona at the time I wrote that E-mail, so I wasn’t exactly thinking clearly.

    My eyes are no better – I had to cancel today’s follow-up eye doctor appointment, obviously – and the only part of the day I enjoyed at all was lying in a hospital bed listening to music on headphones. For instance, I noticed that one Polo G song uses the exact same rhyme on the penultimate syllable of each line but varies it somewhat on the final syllable. I usually don’t concentrate closely enough on music at home, especially when played off my computer, to pick up on those kinds of subtleties.

  3. Tony Oursler is a majorly significant artist and I’m always happy to learn more about his practice. One thing that I’m very much intrigued by is the Imponderable book of his paranormal archives, containing over 1500 objects to browse at your leisure. Sure I could get lost in there for days on end.

  4. Wow, what a great post. Dennis, you probably remember I’m a huge Oursler fan. Funny he talks about the blob; that’s something I’m obsessed with as well, unsurprisingly.

    Good to hear things are still chill in Paris. We just had an advisory from Public Health on suspending larger events. Thankfully I’m not teaching this spring; quite a few schools have either shut down or moved classes online. Not a bad time to be at home a lot, dealing with medical blips and putting together the horror movie post.

    Bill

  5. Armando, The pleasure was all mine. And really, yesterday was all you, buddy. 😀

    Dennis, A Galerie! You know I likey. 😀

    Hmm, maybe the world should just shut down for a month. Nobody go outside. Just have roving bands of military or whatever drop off goods to each house every day. I mean, I don’t know what else to do.

    Sooo…my partially torn tendon. The doc said don’t do surgery. He was like, there’s no pain and you can do your regular activities, including working out with very light weights, so why disrupt your life? He said he’s all about quality of life with his patients, and the surgery now wouldn’t improve my quality of life. I’d be in a sling and in recovery for three months. If I had a lot of pain, then sure.

    He also said, “For what it’s worth, this is how I feed my family, and I’m telling you not to do it.” I thought that was pretty honest.

    He did say, however, if things change or it tears completely (which may happen), then we can do the surgery then. It’s the same exact surgery, whether it’s a partial or full tear.

    I said okay, I’ll see you if anything changes, and I’ll just go on keeping on keeping on. 😀 I’m happy with the result.

    Of course, if it does pop all the way, I’ve already got a doc lined up and treatment options.

  6. @Tim Sandel,

    I hope you see this somehow.

    Thank you so very much, Tim. You’re very kind. I hope you get to read all those books you want to read!

    Best Regards,

    a.

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