Tony Oursler: Obscura

Tony Oursler: Obscura

obscura (installation view) by tony oursler

Tony Oursler

Obscura (installation view), 1996–2013

Price on Request

obscura (installation view) by tony oursler

Tony Oursler

Obscura (installation view), 1996–2013

Price on Request

obscura (installation view) by tony oursler

Tony Oursler

Obscura (installation view), 1996–2013

Price on Request

obscura by tony oursler

Tony Oursler

Obscura, 1996–2013

Price on Request

Thursday, April 3, 2014Friday, May 2, 2014


Düsseldorf, Germany

Ausstellung: Tony Oursler 'Obscura'
Datum: 03.04.2014 – 02.05.2014
Eröffnung: 03.04.2014 ab 18Uhr
Künstler ist anwesend


For his solo gallery exhibition in 2014 Oursler presents Obscura, a newly produced installation of three dimensional eye projections. This is a manifestation of an ongoing project in Oursler's ouvre, addressing the position of the viewer in relation to the spectacle of current pop cultural viewing trends. In this iteration, the artist explores our relationship to multimedia ubiquitous presence of glowing multimedia screens, including televisions, computers, smart phones, and cinema, as his subject matter for this large scale installation. Oversized representations of eyes are formed by projecting pre-recorded videos onto large fiberglass spheres, which are suspended in space as well as spread throughout the gallery’s walls and floor. This installation converts the gallery into a dynamic installation of light and sound, immersing the viewers in a space, which references both interior cosmology as well as an exterior planetary schematic. Each depiction becomes a macro portrait, pairing the viewer and the viewed at a moment of consumption, as the transfixed eyes reveal the off screen focus of their gaze in a small reflection onto the surface of the cornea. On the pupil of each eye clues to the specific content of the viewers fascination can be seen in these media reflections, for example the eyes are variously surfing the internet, watching horror movies, science fiction, nature films, computer graphics, weather system, social media, and so on. These flickering orbs are accompanied by distant soundtracks, which pervade the installation.

The artist has equated the anatomical apparatus of the eye as the human embodiment of mechanical optical systems, such as the camera obscura. Within this installation the dilation and constriction of the pupil and iris become an extension of that technological system and are emblematic of our deeply human need to consume unending steams of images and narratives.
Oursler has stated “In this work, the pupil becomes a portal or black hole, separating real space and time from a fantasy space and time, which is constantly changing in definition. Although the sedentary position of the viewer has provoked much debate, and is often said to be an escapist waste of time, recent neurological research by Jonathan Gottschall suggests a deeper relationship to narrative, that serves to construct the very fabric of our day to day reality.“ The position of the visitor is highlighted as they move through this constellation of eyes, forming a recursive and voyeuristic loop. Thematically the artist highlights the dilemma of technological interconnectivity, which allows instant communication and gratification, that leaves the participant connected yet somehow isolated. Oursler began his exploration of eyes in 1995, and has continued to rework and expand upon the themes and technologies presented in this series. This iteration, Obscura is newly developed for Hans Mayer gallery and includes new video elements shot especially for this exhibition.