Started in the Nineties, Oursler’s vast personal archive functions as an open visual resource, historical inquiry, and—most intriguingly—a family history. One of the collection’s many digressions is the friendship between the artist's grandfather Charles Fulton Oursler—a famous early 20th Century author and publisher—and magician and escapologist Harry Houdini, their joint campaign against fraudulent mediums, and a historic interaction with Arthur Conan Doyle, who, beyond his Sherlock Holmes series, was an important advocate for spiritualism and the paranormal. This publication features up to 1,200 objects from Oursler’s collection, including photographs, prints, historic manuscripts, rare books, letters, and objects. Additional topics include stage magic, thought photography, demonology, cryptozoology, optics, mesmerism, automatic writing, hypnotism, fairies, cults, the occult, color theory, and UFOs. [publisher’s note]
Edited by Tom Eccles, Maja Hoffmann, Beatrix Ruf; with texts by Jordan Bear, Karen Beckman, Noam Elcott, Maja Hoffmann, Branden W. Joseph, Peter Lamont, Fred Nadis, Stephanie O’Rourke, Jim Steinmeyer, Christopher Turner.