stARTup Success Stories: Chapter Three

Jon Fischer and his beautifully fabricated records have become a fixture at our San Francisco fairs. What sets stARTup art fairs apart is how each artist completely transforms their space to fit their body of work. Hotel rooms become immersive, engaging exhibitions, unique to each artist and each fair.

We previously featured Jon in our What's new about New Media art? article, which includes six notable ways new media installations have challenged the way we look at art in a fair setting. Jon is no exception. At stARTup SF 2018, he was a finalist for Best Room / Installation, as voted by our fair-goers.

Jon Fischer at stARTup SF 2017

Jon Fischer at stARTup SF 2017

As we continue our stARTup Success Stories, and with artist applications opening for stARTup SF 2019, we look at Jon’s vision and his execution as a model for emerging artists to follow as they mold their careers.

For Jon, “new work is always produced in multiples, with an emphasis on variation.” In order to keep his subjects (loops, natural cycles, and sequences) fresh, he curates work into ambitious yet flexible patterns and grids.

While Jon has shown with stARTup since its inaugural fair in 2015, stARTup SF 2017 was the premier of his ambitious record project - one of a kind works of art combining sculptural aesthetics and actual function. During installation, records were hung and rehung until settling on its final form below.

Installation view of Jon Fischer’s room at stARTup SF 2017

Installation view of Jon Fischer’s room at stARTup SF 2017

“Many shows are possible starting from the same pieces,” he continues. “Some series contain two large variations, others contain lots of small ones. Sometimes variation is manifested in the form of materials - from wood to canvas, from film to light.” And in his most recent work, from sound to performance.

Jon and musician Danny Clay have been teaming to produce loop-based compositions for piano and guitar on custom-made sine wave records since 2016, a project funded by the San Francisco Arts Commission.

After showcasing variations of the work at stARTup SF 2017 and 2018, it seems the project has finally reached critical mass.

Jon’s recent show:  DISKS AND GROOVES: EXPLORING ROTARY INSTRUMENTS, at the Center for New Music

Jon’s recent show: DISKS AND GROOVES: EXPLORING ROTARY INSTRUMENTS, at the Center for New Music

After the fair in April, Jon’s November 2018 multimedia installation at the Center for New Music in San Francisco presented an evening of film screenings, live musical accompaniment, hand-printed records, field footage of the California coastline, and interactive visual display.

Songs of the Humpback Whale: 2018 Open Studios Documentation

This fully realized multimedia experience pulls inspiration from this S.J. Manetta quote: “Observations indicate that things are always made of smaller things, leading to the unanswerable question: what is the smallest thing? A loop-like model of the universe may avoid this problem."

These same Turntable recordings have also turned into workshops and interactive performances. From February to April 2018 at the McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, Jon and Danny placed records and turntables for invited artists and visitors to browse and play. They also conducted a “turntable orchestra,” inviting guest artists from various disciplines (music, visual art, performance, and poetry) and students to interact with the soundscape and experience a “behind-the-scenes look at the creative process.”

What advice does Jon offer for up-and-coming artists? “Embrace entropy, invite mistakes, and continuously remind yourself to randomize the controlled variables and control the random ones.”

And when it comes to installing a room, take in your physical surroundings and start to hang. “If a variation starts to feel right,” Jon says, “Hold on to it tight, chant it like a mantra, and don’t let go. Meaning and beauty, will in time, reveal itself to you. The goal is for everything to converge.”


Read our other success stories: Success Stories: Chapter 1, with Andi Campognone, Curator and Director, at the Lancaster Museum of Art and History and Success Stories: Chapter 2, with stARTup artist Victoria Huckins and Jennifer Perlmutter of Jennifer Perlmutter Gallery.

Artists: applications are open for stARTup SF 2019. Artists selected by the jury will create an exhibition of their work in a room for all three days of the fair.

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