Oude Kerk presents the exhibition I/O underflow by Tony Oursler from November 26 – March 29, 2015.
The iteration is newly developed for the Oude Kerk and includes numerous new video performances shot in the artists studio in New York especially for the exhibition. It is the first time in 15 years that Tony Oursler will exhibit in the Netherlands.
How do we differentiate between our virtual world and reality? In the ancient space of the church Oursler emphasizes on the way we deal with digitality. On a daily basis the average person spends hours online, gazing at digital images, photos and visuals that are often far from reality. Both physically and mentally we shift continuously from the digital reality to real space. Oursler sees the digital process as paradoxical at its core, combining precision and chaos, which is reflected in its social impact. Technology’s fluctuating gauge of human desire becomes the theme of the exhibition by Tony Oursler for the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam.
The artist has equated the face as the metaphor for the Internet as a vast collective unconscious where the individual creates a doppelgänger or a digital version of himself. The viewer will be asked to position him in relation to the history of the digital onslaught in full form, both positive and negative. As the viewer moves through the Oude Kerk, he will interact with humans and digital intelligence, and be invited to participate in a metaphorical Turing test.
Oursler populates the Oude Kerk with a layering of digitally produced performances, emphasizing the evolving nature of the architecture and cultural usage of the space. The transition from mysticism to materialism and back again, to the magical thinking of the digital age, is emphasized in the themes of the site-specific installation. Oursler fills the space with ghostly light projections, featuring performers Holly Stanton, Josie Keefe, Jim Fletcher, Kate Valk, Constance De Jong, and Joe Gibbons. The poetic cacophony of texts, including chanting, singing, whispering, as well as musical elements, are designed to be projected specifically within various surfaces of the church, which resonate thematically with the exhibition.
Over centuries old remnants of an earlier visual culture are overlaid by new imagery. In the past, iconography in the church served as a dictionary to illiterate Roman Catholic parishioners. In the time of the Iconoclasm in 1566 this imagery all but disappeared. It was during the restoration work on the church, that a great many were uncovered. Oursler deliberately sought these out and with his digital video performances infiltrated the historical representations of people, saints, and patron saints. In the Oude Kerk we view, in a manner of speaking, the interweaving of digital and historical imagery. They form an almost natural whole, stimulating the viewer to reflect on the assumed truths of what we see.