Sarah Stanley

Roland Fischer, 8 New Façades

Roland Fischer travels to the world’s largest cities in order to compile a virtual catalog of
high rise structures. The artist is in fact investigating the consolidation of financial
industries through new forms of trading instruments, especially in Asia, which gave rise to
panoply of generic architectural styles in 1980s and 90s. This contemporary condition
which further unites architecture and finance in the newly globalized world city provides
the graphic spectrum for Roland Fischer‘ Façade series. Urban architecture continues to
emphasize repetitions, a flatness modulated through textures, reliefs and bold colors, a
condition that had first materialized in conjunction with photography and cinema, and
related commercial advertisements. The speeds of modern transport and emphasis on
verticality had transformed the visuality of urban architecture, thereafter reducing
symbolism and ornamentation, and related meaning. Fischer’s photographic Façades are
rehearsing these innumerable graphic schemas that range from early modernism’s colored
grids to the textured armatures of high-tech buildings. This intensification of graphic
design had propelled the mobile architectural paintings of Dutch de Stijl artists, such as
Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg. In certain photographs Fischer likewise magnifies those
elements of the building’s profile so that only the vertical and horizontal lines of the
building remain framed. [NAB, Melbourne #2, 2012]. In another futuristic example, the
reduction of metallic grilling creates a stochastic image that periodically switches
between flat knobs and luminous perforations. [(Birmingham (Night), 2012].
Using these diverse technical methods, Fischer engages the design as it performs on the
façade of buildings, either frontally or askew on the diagonal, with each print testing the
qualities of patterned variations. The German photographic team of Bernd and Hilla
Bechers utilized a typological classification for their iconic series that documents
industrial architecture. Fischer‘ compendium of design facades also contains an archival
impulse developed through a catalog of design typographies. The artist’s main concern
remains, however, with the image, rather than with photography’s documentary
capacities. For instance, the buildings are almost never identified, and the photo remains
untitled except for the name of the city as an indexical reference to a place. Fischer’s
cryptic images of office buildings come close to releasing the architectural subject into an
animated flow of patterned color fields and lines. The artist often uses digital editing to
correct the waviness that results from the steep viewing angles required to photograph tall
buildings, further reducing the design elements into a graphical exercise. All of these
technical methods translate seamlessly into a screenprint medium, recalling the graphic
treatments of 1960s Pop Art that undercut the validation of commercial culture through
ambiguity and irony. Photography’s ongoing centrality in digital media production is yet
another element of the reproducibility of architectural styles that Fischer‘ critical art
practice investigates.

Sarah Stanley, a New York and Berlin based research scholar, art writer and media producer, and was in 2009-2010 an affiliated research scholar at the University College London.

Her current research draws upon German media studies, philosophy and science in order to generate new theories about art and architectural practices.

She also has curated video, photography and installation projects in cities worldwide, and continues to produce video and photography projects about language, art, architecture and urban subjects in collaboration with international artists.

published in: „Roland Fischer, Façades on Paper“ at Durham Press, Pennsylvania 2012