Tony Oursler to Conjure Public Art in New York’s Riverside Park This Fall

Tony Oursler, Tear of the Cloud, 2018.


Tony Oursler, the ensorcelling New York–based artist whose work often wanders into matters of magic and the occult, will present a Public Art Fund project titled Tear of the Cloud on and around the Hudson River for three weeks in October. The multimedia work features video to be projected on the West 69th Street Transfer Bridge as well as the waters and landscapes surrounding it in Riverside Park in Manhattan.

In a statement, Oursler compared the visual and auditory aspects of the work—featuring videos made in reference to local lore and an accompanying soundtrack—to “the mnemonic effect of the river and the many intertwined tropes associated with the Hudson Valley region.” A list of allusions for scenes and set pieces in the work includes “the Hudson River School (the country’s first regional artistic movement which gave birth to the initial land preservation movement), social media bots, inventor Samuel Morse’s final painting, The Muse, The Headless Horseman, IBM’s chess-playing computer Deep Blue, Mary Rogers’s infamous murder at Sibyl’s Cave in New Jersey, the 19th-century utopian society of Oneida, experimental music developed in the South Bronx and Lower Manhattan,” and more.

Some of the referents will blur together. To wit, from Oursler: “The Headless Horseman and his horse are important references in Tear of the Cloud, as they gallop towards artificial intelligence, the chess-playing computer Deep Blue’s famous knight sacrifice, facial recognition technologies, and bots which have provoked significant questions about our future.” Others will look into history, as per an allusion to Pearl White’s 1910s-era silent films created in the Palisades and the development of the first transistor nearby at IBM’s Bell Labs.

Tear of the Cloud will be viewable nightly from 7 to 10 p.m. during its run next month, from October 10 to 31. One of those nights, one might notice, is Halloween.

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