The Wire

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The Mire: Tangents, threads and opinions from The Wire HQ

"High"

Nathan Budzinski


American artist and musician (and bandmate with Mike Kelley in The Poetics) Tony Oursler recently opened an exhibition at the Lisson Gallery in London. The show, which runs until October 3rd, features a mixture of his work from the 90's along with new work from this year, if you're familiar with Oursler's art then there won't be many surprises for you, but it's still well worth a visit. Using sculpture, painting, video projection and sound, Oursler combines a hand-made DIY aesthetic with images of obsessive habits such as chain smoking, internet addiction and compulsive gambling along with the sound of indistinct mumblings and sharp angry whispers. Wandering through the darkened galleries as the emanations from each work overlap with one another creates a sense of being in a space of conflict and psychological violence; as if caught up in an argument between a roomful of tatty puppets, disembodied heads and ghostly voices. This, along with the recurring image of smoking cigarettes and loops of neurotic reorganisation, creates a feeling of haggard claustrophobia as if afflicted with the cabin fever caused by sitting in front of a computer for far too long, exacerbated by the effects of nicotine withdrawal. Although this sounds somewhat distressing, the effect of being immersed within and jostled about by his work is a satisfying type of sensorial overload, even sometimes fun as the repetition and knee-jerk compulsiveness of the pieces become ridiculous.

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