Urs Fischer (b. 1973)
Urs Fischer (b. 1973)

Mr. Watson--come here--I want to see you

Urs Fischer (b. 1973)
Mr. Watson--come here--I want to see you
light swings back and forth, accelerating and decelerating in a 12-minute cycle
electric motor, control unit, electric cable, light bulb, wire
dimensions variable
Executed in 2005. This work is number two from an edition of two plus one artist's proof.
Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich
Acquired from the above by the present onwner
U. Fischer and A. Zachary, eds., Urs Fischer: Shovel in a Hole, exh. cat., New York, New Museum, 2009, pp. 143, 255 and 378 (another example illustrated in color).
Greece, Hydra Workshops, Mr. Watson--Come Here--I Want to See You, July-September 2005 (another example exhibited).
Zurich, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Mr. Watson--Come Here--I Want to See You, May 2006.

Lot Essay

A single light bulb suspended from a long electrical cord that is affixed to a ceiling and powered by a customized motor, Urs Fischer's 2005 work titled Mr. Watson--come here--I want to see you, presents an eloquent statement core to the Swiss artist's practice. Initially dormant, the illuminated bulb hangs in a delicate position before the viewer. Instantly confronted with its seemingly simplistic construction, the work becomes animate, swinging rhythmically about at varying speeds during a 12-minute cycle. Through this relatively simple action, the work becomes immediately threatening to its surrounding environment, the light blurred in a trail of motion.

Hardly a novel concept; mechanized sculpture and technical re-visioning has permuted artistic practice of the 20th century, recalling the work of Francis Picabia, Jean Tinguely and Max Ernst, who sought, through fantastical explorations of technology, to embed the new lexicon of innovation and its inherent complications into the lofty ideals of fine art. Physically intrusive and aesthetically complacent, mechanized sculpture and references as such altered traditional notions of art and resulted in the paradigmatic notion of art as 'experience'.
All at once, the everyday object is belied by Fischer's mechanical intervention here. As in Jasper Johns' seminal sculpture Light Bulb, 1958, the functional object is transported from its practical use by a nearly pathological artistic rendering. This immediate translation cultivates a mental rekindling through the reversal of the everyday by removing functionality from things that we see around us, definitively counteracting the norm. Fischer anoints this object, the light bulb, with his own singular brand of artistic innovation. Fischer explains that "in most cases, I don't even think about the object, I think about a situation...what's going on between elements in a work. Not compositionally, but almost politically, and definitely structurally: a chair is never a piece of furniture for me, it is part of a situation that establishes a real clash in space. A situation means that things are forced to occupy a space together or alone," (U. Fischer, quoted in Urs Fischer: Shovel in a Hole, New York, 2009, p. 63).

The title of this work references the first words exchanged via telephone as documented in Alexander Graham Bell's notebooks. Bell famously spoke these words to his assistant in testing the performance of his technological feat, an invention which would indisputably kick-start the changing social recourse that defined the 20th century. Fischer's titles often play an important role in injecting his works with their characteristic spirit of revelation.

When installed, Mr. Watson... creates a tenuous divide, holding the potential for a disturbing but wholly permeable barrier. Reminiscent of Marcel Duchamp's 1942 intervention, Mile of String, the viewer's ability to navigate the works within the space are disrupted by this physically slight, though visually potent obstruction. The pendulous motion changes the lighting within the installation space and through this, the sculpture obtains a performative quality that is recurrent in in Fischer's work. In robotic sculptures that were exhibited alongside Mr. Watson... Fischer presents disembodied limbs and body parts that are invigorated by awkward juts of motion and silence-obliterating sounds of up-starting motors.

Fischer's works are typically part-and-parcel to the broader installation, interacting in strange and yet accessible ways. Invading the typical notion of an art space as meditative and silent, Fischer's mechanized works poignantly deplete these associations, as Fischer explains, "art is like people; you cannot reduce them to a couple of sentences, they are much more complex, much richer," (U. Fischer, ibid., p. 62).

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