Autumn 2016 Tony Oursler

“Influence Machine” wants to make contact with bygone scientists and inventors. Accelerator’s first event was a magical performance of the intersection of art and science.”
Richard Julin, Artistic Director.

Accelerator launched its artistic activities in October 2016 with the outdoor multimedia installations “Influence Machine” and “Antennae” by the video art pioneer Tony Oursler. The works were shown on Frescati campus in collaboration with the art museum Magasin III.

Inspired by Etienne-Gaspard Robert

Accelerator is built in Manne Siegbahn’s former physics laboratory. Physicist (and magician) Etienne-Gaspard Robert (1764-1837) was the main inspiration for the Influence Machine, performed in the evening of 20 October, 2016. Robert developed and patented a type of slide projector, Fantoscope, which he used to project ghostly images onto smoke in performances called phantasmagoria. He was also an avid balloonist and made the first manned balloon flight in Sweden.

Watch the documentary about Accelerator’s first art event:

The Influence Machine

In the Influence Machine (2000-2002), Tony Oursler combines snippets of voices from the history of technology, pictures of heads and a knocking hand which are all projected in the darkness onto clouds of smoke, trees and surrounding buildings. Words, images and sound create a dramatic open-air artwork. Scientific figures in the installation include physicist and magician Etienne-Gaspard Robert, television pioneer John Logie Baird, and Philo T. Farnsworth, an inventor who was crucial to the all-electronic TV. Other people and technicians appear in the work like the Fox sisters who were famous in the US during the mid-1800s for using “knocks” to communicate with the dead.


The site of Accelerator’s future exhibition space – the cooling tank above the old particle accelerator in Manne Siegbahn’s laboratory – hosted the artwork “Antennae” for 3 weeks in the evenings. The work consists of numerous antennas and parabolic dishes, creating a framework onto which singing, swirling faces are projected. The work is part of Magasin III’s collection and is part of a larger series entitled STATION, created by Tony Oursler in 2002.

Transmitting and receiving

Both “Influence Machine” and “Antennae” are part of Tony Oursler’s exploration of the history of technology, particularly of television. Through projections, sound and smoke clouds, he dramatizes the themes of transmission and reception, the presence of technology in daily life and, by extension, the social and physical influence of media.

Technology, psychology and the occult

Tony Oursler lives and works in New York. Since the 1970s he has worked with different materials including painting, sculpture, video and installations. In his works his interest in technology is related to psychology and the supernatural is a recurring theme. He is known for combining hallucinatory, poetic texts and projections onto dolls in violent and humorous settings.

Credits Autumn 2016

For more information on “The Influence Machine”:


Photos: Jean Baptiste Béranger och Ingmarie Andersson