Tony Oursler is recognized as a leading figure in experimental film and video art, having emerging alongside a group of artists—including Mike Kelley (American, 1954–2012), Stephen Prina, and Jim Shaw—who attended the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in the 1970s. Since 1991, Oursler has projected video images onto doll-like dummies, disembodied heads, and strange alien forms to create uncanny, unsettling, and ultimately funny figures. Junk is part of a series of works begun in 2003 in which the artist projects large eyes and talking mouths onto abstract shapes. This work features Oursler’s own eyes and mouth performing a script of random words, statements, and thoughts. He calls these conversations, which exist only in our minds, the “undertow of language.” The overall strangeness of the large, disembodied features and the incoherent vocals proves captivating and causes us to attempt to decipher the speech—the same way we would try to search for meaning in a nightmare.
Label from Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One: Humor and Satire from the Collection, November 19, 2016–March 19, 2017