Tony Oursler: The Influence Machine

About the Exhibition

Tony Oursler’s The Influence Machine, installed at Madison Square Park, captures voices and images of ghosts, both contemporary and historical, creating a séance experience that recalls 19th-century sound and light projections. Oursler (b.1957, New York City, NY) experiments with video, smoke machines, a variety of soundtracks, and several sculptural elements to explore the historical and current impact technologies have on our daily lives.

The Influence Machine comprises projections of large faces onto smoke and trees with corresponding narratives—poetic texts written by Oursler for this project and other texts from the history of early technology. Images of knocking hands are also projected onto trees and surrounding buildings with corresponding knocking sounds that alludes to Morse code and other early forms of communication. Texts ran over construction fencing and trees pronouncing intimate and encoded messages. In addition to Oursler’s abstract narratives, the soundtrack for The Influence Machine includes segments of radio feedback, the unusual sounds of a glass harmonica (performed by Dean Shostak), and a score by Tony Conrad commissioned for this project.



Madison Square Park

Madison Avenue & East 25th Street

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