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Noah Fischer - State of the Art

Category: Portrait 5. November 2008

As you are looking at this podcast, you are looking into a monitor, be it on your laptop, your iPod, your mobile phone, etc. But how much time do you spend actually looking at your monitor, a physical object that one has come to take completely for granted? The point of a mobile world, in fact, is that these objects, through which we stay connected with an information-saturated world, are disposable—toys that we purchase and update on a regular basis, and, at the same rate, discard and forget about just as quickly.

In Noah Fischer’s work, one returns to looking at this neglected object, the monitor, in all its different versions and models over the ages—a technological “era” which only really covers about thirty years of time. The Brooklyn-based artist was first drawn to the monitor by noticing the predominance of them in trash heaps on the streets of New York.

What was once a valuable, sought-out item as little as one or two years ago becomes worthless material for the junkyard today, and the cycle accelerates with the emergence of every shiny new model that appears in the store each year, month, week, even—as the regular lines of hungry customers at every new Apple store will attest.

Noah Fischer brings this frantically mass-produced object back to its simple lo-tech origins: as a relic, a piece of furniture, and most poetically, as a light source—a kind of simple lantern emitting a soft, ethereal light. He re-introduces the most basic structural and aesthetic features of the object in terms of its color, its material, its form. As the newest models of monitors become ever-more streamlined, flatter, smaller, trying to divert attention, in fact, from their condition of being actual physical objects, the obsolete models that once enjoyed such state-of-the-art status become ever more strange and quaint in their outdated bulkiness—a quality made even stranger by the fact that early models of monitors were once a product of designers who even marked each of their works with their signatures.

In an age when video art represents the most cutting-edge medium of young artists, Noah Fischer turns the ubiquitous monitor—both figuratively and literally—on its head, evoking a decidedly modernist, Duchamp-ian gesture in the process. In this case, the signature on the object is his. (jn)

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