Through Jan. 8, 2017, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) in New York City presents Tony Oursler: Imponderable. The exhibit features multimedia artist and CalArts alumnus Tony Oursler’s (Art BFA 79) film Imponderable, a “5-D” cinematic environment featuring images relating to stage magic, spirit photography, pseudoscience, telekinesis and other manifestations of the paranormal. Along with the film are selections from the artist’s related archival materials.
The immersive feature-length film explores the artist’s ponderous collections and is inspired by his grandfather’s friendship with the detective novelist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In an interview with Forbes, Oursler relates that Doyle and his grandfather used to exchange photographs as proof or disproof of spiritualism, and those were the pictures that gave rise to Imponderable.
In the film, the artist displays the occult uses of communicative technology before said technology becomes commodified by corporation. Oursler explains his fascination with the occult and technology:
The connection between the occult and technology becomes a metaphor for how we approach any new technology. I discovered that from the camera obscura to the computer, people have used technology to speak to the dead. For some, tech becomes an oracle. So in this work I use the occult as a metaphor for the individual in opposition to the corporate approach to technology.
The same Forbes interview praises the installation, saying, “Oursler’s work can not be simply be gawked at. It has to really be examined to fully admire.”