Sound Digressions: Spectrum
Tony Oursler belongs to the generation which renewed the use of video by freeing it of the limits inherent to the television screen. His works cannot be reduced to the video image itself but are made of complex systems which are at the borders between sculpture, drawing, installation and performance.
Oursler is one of the essential figures in the recent history of multimedia and video art and he has been deeply involved with sound production since the 1970s. He composed and designed many soundtracks for his video tapes and installations throughout the years. Many of these have been released in various forms. He also founded the band The Poetics with Mike Kelley and has collaborated with many musicians, notably, Tony Conrad, Kim Gordon, Glenn Branca, David Bowie, Thurston Moore, Jim Shaw, Arto Lindsay, and Beck.
While at California Institute of the Arts, Oursler studied with John Cage and worked with the Paik-Abe synthesizer. These formative experiences are evident in his multimedia work, which often involves chance strategies, which occur in his installations. With the Sound Digressions series, Oursler continues this experiment by working separately with 7 notable performers and combining these recordings in a perpetually phasing, playback system. The resulting installations have the effect of a living, ever changing composition for the viewer. These musical performances, shot in 2005, were originally conceived as raw material for the seven-part series, based loosely on the relationship between sound and the color spectrum. Sound Digressions: Spectrum is the second in this series, which is shown for the first time ever at Galerie Mitterrand in Paris. The previous installation, Sound Digressions in Seven Colors was shown at NYEHAUS New York in 2005. This work was exhibited extensively around Europe and America and is now in the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. When the work was originally shown, seven video paintings were produced and exhibited based on each of the performers. Six of these works are also be exhibited at the Galerie Mitterrand this fall.
Tony Oursler was born in New York, USA in 1957. He works and lives in New York. Oursler’s work has been the subject of exhibitions in the most prestigious of institutions, and very recently at the MoMA in New York (2016-2017), at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (2014) and at the Tate Modern in London (2013). His work is part of many museum and public collections such as the Eli Broad Family Foundation, Los Angeles; the CAPC in Bordeaux, France; the Fondation Cartier in Paris; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington; the Musée national d'art moderne - Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris; the MoMA in New York; the National Museum of Osaka in Japan; the Tate Gallery in London; among many others.