Tony Oursler was a pioneer of video art in the early 1980s and has created an important body of work that speaks to the phantasmagoric power of film. Oursler’s work is rooted in the connections between science and spiritualism, and his exploration of occult and mystical phenomena has underpinned his work, as has his sensitivity to the ghosts in the machine that abound as we dive deeper and deeper into cyberspace.
Now, Oursler’s vast personal collection of objects and ephemera related to magic, the paranormal and pseudoscience have been published as Imponderable: The Archives of Tony Oursler. The book is expansive in its scope, and taken together presents a remarkable exploration of technology and mystical cultural production, one that poses a challenging alternative to pseudo-scientific history.
Above, “ectoplasm” under an ultraviolet light, early 20th century. The ectoplasm produced by mediums during séances was made from a variety of materials but was most commonly cheesecloth (pictured here), sometimes soaked in a fluorescent substance so that it would glow in the darkness of the séance room. Psychics claimed that the material was the physical manifestation of a spiritual presence. §
Imponderable: The Archives of Tony Oursler, edited by Tom Eccles Maja Hoffmann and Beatrix Ruf, published by JRP Ringier, is out now.