Ernst Fischer: 18%

February 7 - March 14, 2015
Opening Reception: Saturday, February 7, 5-7pm

18% featured as an ARTFORUM Critics' Pick

CUE is excited to announce 18%, an exhibition of new work by New York City-based artist Ernst Fischer, featuring large-format prints and moving images.

Artist statement

In my experience, things tend to happen just when you’re looking away. Our ideas tend to slip from our grasp, ruling over us by hiding in the images and things that surround us.

Having spent a decade working as a photographer and cinematographer, I have done my time managing systems beyond my control, and gained a solid sense of the fact that our most indomitable machines offer neither resistance nor substantive argument, but proffer interfaces smooth enough to glide through life on.

In the vain but sustained hope of delegating my art practice to a machine, I have spent the last year building an automated camera that expands the possibilities of microscopic deep-focus photography. I am more interested in my robot’s limitations than its capabilities. In an attempt to turn the tables on the information age cliché, I overwhelm the machine with information, and harvest the results. For instance, if I introduce a quality of light that allows for areas of darkness and specular highlights, my algorithms will respond to the uncertainty and variance of the image data with a vision of the machinic sublime that is reminiscent of something Caspar David Friedrich might have painted on acid.

The resulting pictures are in some ways the polar opposite of Hito Steyerl’s “poor image,” that forlorn visual that has been given a new, degraded lease of life on youtube. The images I like to work with are of the highest fidelity, seamless down to their smallest detail, and witness to a reality that exists beyond the validating structures of representation. My work expresses the hope that if machines where happy, they might finally leave us alone.

In this sense, I am still a utopian, and a photographer: The art, if and when it happens, happens in the blink of an eye in the gaps between the program and the world.


Catalogue essay: Ernst Fischer "18%" by Brienne Walsh