Untitled (Words of Concern)

Artist: Marcus Fischer
installation | Tape recorder, tape loop, spindle, sound | 03:00 | 2017

Marcus Fischer produced Untitled (Words of Concern) the day before Donald Trump’s inauguration as president. At the time, Fischer was participating in a Robert Rauschenberg Residency on Captiva Island, Florida. For the work, he invited other residents to recording sessions in which they discussed their fears and reservations about the Trump presidency. He edited their individual recordings into a three-minute tape loop, layering their words when they articulated the same ideas, transforming their voices into a kind of chorus; the loop played continuously in the Residency’s main studio on the day of the inauguration. As he does in many of his sculptural sound pieces, Fischer uses a 1960s Nagra reel-to-reel recorder to play the work, stringing the tape loop from the ceiling and highlighting its physical precariousness as an object. “All of these concerns that we share,” he has explained, “should give us strength instead of weigh us down.” In the site-specific work Ascent/Dissent, Marcus Fischer treats the Whitney’s central staircase as a resonating chamber, maximizing its tendency to generate the fullest sounds at the bottom and more ethereal ones at the top. Fischer recorded some of these sounds in the stairwell itself; others he found or composed. Bearing in mind that sounds in nature shift in pitch from low to high as one rises—from the earthy sounds of a forest floor to birdcalls in the treetops, for example—Fischer has created a poetic sonic journey. The work’s title, a play on words that expresses both movement through the space and an act of protest, reflects Fischer’s belief that sound art can be political even without words.


Whitney Biennial 2019 | 2019.05.17 - 2019.09.22 | Whitney Museum of American Art(New York City, NY, United States)