"While Science Fiction was never far from the horrific fear of the unknown, it seemed to have been colonized by blue eyed soft-core fantasies played out on the Hollywood screen. In the liminal spaces of rural and suburban America, something else was taking place which involved half remembered subjugation and violation. It was as if the synthesized, nonstop party of the late 70s, fueled by amnesic soporifics had transformed its disco lights and ubiquitous mirror ball into an alien anhedonic nightmare."Read more
Multimedia installation, LCD screens and projection.
Unidentified presents photos of UFOs taken by Tony Oursler in an original archive form. For this installation, Oursler digitised his archive and sequenced it.
He emphasises the infinite variety of photographic images that follow those of George Adamski (1891 - 1965), the pioneer of UFO photography. Different-sized screens play a score against which projected images of UFOs move like flying saucers. This wall reveals the construction of these photographs, their very amateurism sustaining the mystery surrounding the truth of what they purport to show. While the quality is poor, these visuals sow the seeds of doubt. They have had a major impact and are familiar to people well outside ufologist circles, propelling their authors into the ranks of experts in the media. For this installation, Oursler does not only show the similarities, but also endeavours to illustrate the links and references that tie these objects to one another. Using quotes and other borrowed elements, the images create a coherent visual universe. Here, Tony Oursler presents the emergence of this pictorial genre in the 1950s.
Video, wood and projection, 2017
In his works, Tony Oursler regularly uses the myths of alien-human encounters as a mirror to observe our shifting society. He has been interested in abductees since the 1970s and collects their stories. According to the artist, these testimonies gradually became darker in the 1980s, sliding towards fear.
The forms of “Subz” are illuminated by video projections filmed by Tony Oursler on Earth, in Los Angeles, combined with animated images inspired by drawings of people abducted by extra-terrestrials. The figures appear and disappear in an almost dystopian architectural landscape. By means of editing and special effects, the video evokes and questions the concept of extra-terrestrial threat.
Internet is flooded with images and videos showing UFOs in the sky. Tony Oursler presents a compilation of these videos collected on YouTube in 2013 and 2022. Exploring a new medium, he follows the evolution of this pictorial genre from one support to another, from silver photography to online video, and sometimes even live. By doing so, he creates a tension between the development of means and technologies of communication and the persistence of popular beliefs. Often pixelated, these animated images are the contemporary expression of the phenomenon of ufology. Unlike photos drawn from the photographic archive, they capture movement, the appearance and disappearance of the objects. We could hardly be blamed for wondering if UFO photography even still exists today. Photos of UFOs nowadays are almost always freeze frames of video sequences and are ultimately not so different from the photos taken during the second half of the 20th century.
Despite the improvement in imaging equipment, we do not observe a significant improvement in the visual quality of contemporary sources. The interest in these stories has in no way diminished. On the contrary, social media means that they can be shared more quickly and on a larger scale, all the more so as they show unexplained phenomena. Each new post increases the number of views of the previous ones, amplifying the content referencing in the process. New communities of followers (and detractors) are emerging, influencing one another. Can we still talk about popular beliefs since the Pentagon officially published its videos of in-flight encounters with UFOs in 2020 and introduced the term UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon), to replace UFO (Unidentified Flying Object)? Through this montage, Tony Oursler follows the shift in the collective imagination, its ability to move from one support to another in connection with the development of technologies.