As darkness falls across Birmingham’s Cathedral Square, a psycho-landscape of ethereal figures will appear, projected onto the cathedral, trees, walls and clouds of smoke. This artwork, by the American artist Tony Oursler, tells stories of the technological leaps in telecommunication - from the telegraph to the radio, the television and the internet - delving deep into the history of media.

The work comprises seven video projections, each with its own audio track. The videos of talking heads are projected into the Cathedral Grounds, their fractured monologues combining to make a dissonant confessional chorus of the mass media age. One of the figures, appearing and disappearing in the smoke, is one of Oursler’s longstanding collaborator, Tracy Leipold. Her dialogue makes references to key names from media history such as television pioneer John Logie Baird and Etienne Gaspard Roberston who founded the first moving image theatre in a Paris crypt in 1763. Other video projections include a talking light, a chorus singing and a technician’s hand. A further video projects intimate and cryptic texts vertically along the trunk of a tree, while the audio channels include sections of radio feedback and the sound of Morse code being transmitted. 

As part of Birmingham Weekender, Birmingham Museums Trust in collaboration with Artangel presents The Influence Machine from The Artangel Collection and is presented as part of Arts Council Collection National Partners Programme supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, The Foyle Foundation, Arts Council England, Birmingham Museums Trust and Colmore Business District.

This event takes place on Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd September from 8-10pm.

In St Philips Cathedral Grounds, Colmore Row, Birmingham.

Free event.

Tony Oursler: The Influence of the Machine logos