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Lehmann Maupin Hong Kong
2016.01.14 Thu - 2016.03.05 Sat
Opening Exhibition
407 Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central, Hong Kong
Opening Hours
Tuesday - Friday, 10 AM - 6 PM; Saturday, 10 AM - 7 PM
Rachel Lehmann and David Maupin

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Lehmann Maupin to present Tony Oursler’s solo exhibition in Hong Kong
[Press Release]

Hong Kong, December 22, 2015—Lehmann Maupin is pleased to present PriV%te, a solo exhibition of new multimedia wall works and sculpture by New York-based artist Tony Oursler; the artist’s sixth solo show with the gallery. The exhibition features a mix of colorfully animated video screens set within aluminum panels. Thematically related to the phenomenon of facial recognition, these wall-mounted, head-shaped panels articulate the balance between facial features and the algorithms designed to aggregate them. These works are a continuation of Oursler’s longstanding interest in the production of cultural identity and technology, with a specific focus on the proliferation of big data and surveillance programs.

Oursler’s ongoing study of the role technology plays in human behavior has only become more poignant today as digital media continues to permeate every aspect of daily life. In this new body of work, the artist is particularly interested in the ramifications of facial recognition technology, an increasingly ubiquitous tool used across public, private, and government sectors that tracks and identifies facial features, thereby allowing computers, for the first time, to achieve their own “vision” of us. Underscoring Oursler’s uneasy relationship with technology inherent in these “data portraits” pertains to surveillance and all manner of data tracking. The artworks seem to gaze at the viewer, evoking the larger cultural question of who is watching whom.

Inspired by facial recognition techniques and algorithms currently in use in social media, various public and private enterprises, Oursler employs a web of geometric designs, scattered data points and various registration nodes integral to the composition of each work. Oursler incorporates computer etchings representing mapping techniques and baseline characteristics essential to facial recognition. Sourced by the artist online, these various diagrams reference of how “big data” processes, categorizes, and aggregates the individual today. For all of us facial recognition will soon be linked to biometrics, spending patterns, and all manner of information which the artist sees the sum as a new portrait.


The work lends itself to the greater conversation surrounding the digital cultivation and capture of personal identity, as well as how and by whom this tracking is used, topics Oursler has studied and written on extensively, including methods for evading this detection. This body of work ultimately renders the technological realm from the counterpoint perspective of the machines that are increasingly modified to adapt human traits.

A pioneering figure of new media art since the early 1980s, Oursler developed his early practice under John Baldessari at CalArts, where he formed longstanding relationships with several of his fellow students, including Mike Kelley, John Miller, and Jim Shaw. This context encouraged Oursler to work outside of traditional media structures, and experiment with cross-pollination between painting, sculpture, video, installation, performance, language, music, and sound.