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Tony Oursler

"Eyes are always talked about as being the mirror of the soul, and I expected them to be expressive. But when you tape just the eye, disembodied from other facial features, it is totally blank. It looks cold and reptilian. Seen alone, the eye comes across as a light-measuring organ devoid of emotion, like a camera." (Oursler in Rothschild 1999: 24)

Nick Kaye:

Oursler's many installations incorporating the disembodied eye - including Six, six large suspended spheres each of which forms a single projected eye, a structure occuring also in (No) Skin (1996), Eyes (1996), and Three Faces Of…. (1996) - exemplify a testing of the capacity of the media to produce surrogates; entities that become articulate in the viewer's emotional investment, and which operate in a kind of to-and-fro between the spectator and a deployment of the media as a kind of distorting and transforming mirror.

Where Oursler himself has remarked that the dummies were brought to a point where they could be reduced no further, here the eye is forced into a seemingly inarticulate state outside of the context of the face, yet, like the dummies, the eye demands attention by feigning attention to its surroundings, an attention that produces identification over time. Blob (2004) extends this by explicitly abstracting the image toward a collapse of surrogate's body.

This work tests the identity of that which remains when the media pares down its mirroring of the body to produce a hybrid media entity: the eye becomes animalistic, predatory; the blob, a kind of empathetic, inarticulate pet. Such a 'reduction' of the image acts as a foil to an examination of the operation of the media structure, as these entities emerge, gaining strength, in time and repetition, then to wane as the centre of attention - an operation of the media that takes place primarily on the viewer.

Important here is the repetition, the loop, and the relationship to the object.


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