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(American, b. 1957)
Fabric (yellow) with painted text
Overall: 161 x 181 cm (63 3/8 x 71 1/4 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 2010.209.3
© Tony Oursler
Oursler, like many artists of his generation, believes that images rather than firsthand experience have come to define life. He is an acute interpreter of media and its pervasiveness. Part of the disassembled large-scale installation The Watching, these works together render the kind of macabre romance novel popularized in B movies and television and, ultimately, address Hollywood’s exploitation of violence and sex to manipulate its viewers.
Sex Plotter is the projection of a taped performance by artist Constance DeJong, posing as a movie insider, onto a cloth effigy. She dispassionately narrates imaginary film plots of morbid love stories. Sex Plotter represented a turning point in Oursler’s work in 1992, when he pointed a portable projector—a novel technology at the time—onto a cloth effigy, essentially disembodying images and the performers from the TV monitor and injecting new life into the gallery space. Her stream-of-consciousness narrative is closer to thought process than film grammar.
Instant Dummies are like grow-in-water toys that would swell to full-size synthetic humans. Enlarged to political-poster size on cloth, the transcript of Model Release Form is, verbatim, the legal document used by the movie industry that enables the reproduction and manipulation of any one person’s image. While emphasizing the profound alteration of personal identities in subjects, performers, and viewers alike, to Oursler, Model Release is emblematic of a perverse system by which seemingly anyone can become part of the Hollywood machine.
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