Introduction

All art is inextricably linked to its time and to the respective circumstances in which it is created. Today, we are increasingly conditioned by digital information technologies and processing techniques. These continually shape how we perceive, structure and transform our environment, as well as how we express ourselves and articulate within it. 

The examination and incorporation of digital processing techniques is a key element of Philipp Schaerer’s oeuvre. He addresses analogue and visual traditions, exploring the shifts that occur when new production techniques meet tried and tested themes and the familiar: constructed (visual) worlds that work with references, allusions and paradigms, and thematise the increasing blurring of the boundary between the worlds of digital images and material objects.

Schaerer’s main focus is on the generation and processing of image data. In this field of work, he draws on a broad repertoire of digital imaging techniques and visual strategies – creating abstract visual compositions that splice digital image components and 3D elements together, or constructing photographic depictions that are reconceived from scratch via montage or rendering. His works often utilise the freedom offered by two-dimensional methods of depiction; they are visual constructs that follow their own logic. Visual constructs that sometimes ostensibly follow the optical rules of photography, but then refuse to do so and emphasise an abstract two-dimensionality or defy the real, inherent, interacting, physical laws of photographically depicted objects. His works, often produced in series, along with isolated depictions of fictitious individual objects throughout longer image sequences, consciously play with the methods used for encyclopaedic capture of reality and object-based typological photography. However, the parallels are only of a formal nature. In fact, they put our perception to the test, visualise our own uncertainty and vagueness regarding the distinction between image and copy, and make us aware of the increasing blurring of their boundaries in our present-day world.

His works have been published repeatedly and featured in numerous exhibitions and events, for instance at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) in Lisbon, as well as at the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial and the 2019 Trienal de Arquitectura de Lisboa. 

Schaerer’s works are present in several private and public collections, including those held by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP) in Chicago, the Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe (ZKM) and Fotomuseum Winterthur.

Writings & Reviews

  • Schaerer, P (2020, August). Das Künstler*innendasein: Philipp Schaerer im Gespräch mit Sabine Rusterholz [on the occasion of the exhibition "Kunststipendien der Stadt Zürich 2020" at the Helmhaus, Zurich]. > URL | > PDF (German. Transcription)