Known as “the father of video sculpture”, Oursler explores the psychological and social relationships between individuals and visual technologies, constructing phantasmagorical video tales and centering on our physical attraction to light sources. Applying humor and irony to his wide range of work, the artist hones in on the effects of media on human consciousness. For over 40 years Tony Oursler analyzed the phenomena of how humanity perceives narratives and video sequences, the way the audience interacts with technology. The viewer’s relationship with the work is crucial for the artist - eroding boundaries between art, technology and the everyday.

The exhibition Hypnosis (and other states) spans works by Tony Oursler from the last 25 years. The central theme of the exhibition is rethinking the representation of hypnosis in art - via engaging with technology and media, via daydreaming, via revisiting the research of sleep and hypnosis by I.Pavlov, whose practice was closely related to St.Petersburg. This theme echoes both in Oursler’s older and newer works, creating a thread-like trail throughout the whole exhibition. Through multiple projections, Tony Oursler creates a mesmerizing and enveloping environment, featuring close-ups of human eyes, images from pop culture and video collages, which all have a hypnotizing effect on the individual.

While preparing the exhibition Hypnosis (and other states), Tony Oursler was researching the history of hypnosis and the analysis of the mind. He focused on the figure of I.Pavlov, a foundational influence for cognitive behavioral therapy which opposed the dream analysis of Jung and Freud. Through this lens, the artist has created a series of artworks which reinterpret the history of hypnosis, examine the reality of things and lead a captivating journey through the artist’s own subconscious.

Tony Oursler is a wizard of lo-fi video narratives, fusing his interest in classical art production with methods of the film and television industries. The artist grew up in a family of storytellers and science-fiction writers. His grandfather, Fulton Oursler, was known for writing a bestseller The Greatest Story Ever Told, a popularization of the Bible, and for being a magician. His father worked at Reader's Digest, a popular general-interest family magazine. He also had a magazine called Angels on Earth, which was dedicated to first-hand accounts of people's interactions with angels. Through the experiences of his own family and studies, the artist understood how the paranormal goes hand in hand with new technologies. Working with a video camera Tony Oursler “felt like a magician who could change the laws of physics and do almost anything - transform matter, space, and time; animate inanimate objects; and miraculously populate the theatrical worlds he devised” - says Barbara London, video art curator, in her book Video/Art: The First Fifty Years. Oursler’s enduring fascination with the conjunctions between the diametrically opposed worlds of science and spiritualism have allowed him to explore a variety of subcultural activities and belief systems.

Tony Oursler’s hybrid artworks, half sculptures - half videos, are a bridge between physical and psychological space, affecting the eye as much as the mind. Exploring hypnotism’s current relevance, his works are experienced in the form of an engrossing, expansive installation that expands the architectural environment of the space into an amorphous form, lit up and bathed in sound.
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