Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 49: Mon Feb 18

The Influence Machine (Ousler, 2000): Tate Modern, 6pm
This 'event' is also being presented at the Tate on Feb, 15th, 16th & 19th. Details here.

Tony Ousler is perhaps best known currently for his video to accompany David Bowie's latest song, Where Are We Now.

Here is the Tate Modern's introduction to Ousler's 2000 work: Ghostly presences haunt Tate Modern’s riverfront landscape in an immersive installation entitled The Influence Machine by American artist Tony Oursler, presented in collaboration with Artangel. This large-scale multimedia séance, which explores the deep history of virtual image production, was recently donated to Tate, along with several other works from the Artangel Collection.

Oursler conceived The Influence Machine as a kind of ‘psycho-landscape’, which traces the growth of telecommunication, from the telegraph to the radio, the television and the Internet, with each technological leap accompanied by a struggle to define its usage. Delving deep into the history of media, Oursler created a historic sound and light show which invokes the spirit of the phantasmagorias of the late eighteenth century to investigate what he called ‘the dark side of the light’ - an alternative history of disembodied communication.

The work consists of monologues written by Oursler and performed by several ethereal figures which are projected onto trees, walls and clouds of smoke. Key names from media history are referenced, such as Kate Fox, purveyor of the spiritual telegraph, the television pioneer John Logie Baird and Etienne Gaspard Robertson, who used automatons and magic lanterns to create pre-cinematic performances in a Paris crypt in 1763. The haunting soundtrack, played on a glass harmonica, was composed by musician and expanded cinema pioneer Tony Conrad in collaboration with Oursler.

Here is an extract.

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