In Talking Light, a single incandescent light bulb hangs from the ceiling of the Tang Museum’s elevator; its intermittent flickering correlates to the sounds of the artist’s voice emanating from a hidden speaker. Artist Tony Oursler narrates an eerie, poetic monologue composed of seemingly disparate words and phrases, spoken in a whisper. The work is one of several “talking lights” made by Oursler in the 1990s, all of which explore the artist’s fascination with imitation, repetition, magic, mystery, and that which is beyond ordinary human understanding.
Oursler received his BFA from the California Institute for the Arts in 1979. He has exhibited his work since 1981, with solo exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1981, 2016); Kunstverein Hannover, Germany (1998); Whitney Museum, New York (2000); Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2005); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2014); and many others. His works are featured in the permanent collections of institutions worldwide, including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Museum of Osaka, Japan; Tate Collection, London; among others.