The object that we call “monitor” is at once ubiquitous, obsolete, and in the end, perhaps a non-object because we gaze into its pixilated illusion, never directly at its shape and mass. Today the clunky beige boxes adorn sidewalk trash piles because their cathode ray tubes have recently given way to the solid-state flat screen. In a backwards-alchemical shift, they have morphed from object of desire into “e-waste.” In this sense, they now monitor the speed of consumption.
Noah Fischer’s new group of sculptures ask us to reconsider these objects at the intersection between trash and promise. Promise not only of new vision technologies, but of the autonomous aesthetics of Modernism in its search for the perfect form. This aesthetic promise, Fischer argues, is embedded in today’s everyday objects, notably the Apple computer product line. To take an example, the iphone, our new monitor, is accompanied by rhetoric concerning a sublime state reached through reduced geometric form and infinite function. Like a Donald Judd box, this is an object that toys with transcending its object-hood.
The repositioning of consumer items within the context of Modernist art of course dates back to Duchamp, and more recently, Haim Steinbach’s shelves. While drawing inspiration here, Fischer concentrates on process: that of hand-making each object, and on the larger production/decay cycles of consumer objects rather than pure conceptual or formal gesture. Fischer wants you to see the full object-picture, which is never platonic.
Indeed there is trashy side to this story. Behind the sublime promise of the iphone is a vast coal-powered global production industry and even more, a trash filled past; an ever-increasing pile of dead bodies; threatening to gobble up the living present. There are the toxic beige monitors sent to China to be scrapped amid Dickensian conditions, not far perhaps from where next year’s planned obscelences are assembled, begging the question: does this object we call “monitor” really have any function besides to perpetuate the global trash cycle?
Contrary to the rhetoric, objects cannot really be transcended: like bodies their physical presence is absolute reality. Fischer brings the carcass of glass monitor tubes and plastic shells together with hand- hewn and computer generated wooden form to create hybridized benches, chairs, and tables, tweaking “monitor” to a basic physical function: to rest our tired bodies. In another strategic reduction, Fischer revamps monitors as simply lanterns. Perhaps we just gaze at screens like electric campfires; mini-suns to warm our hearts and minds.