Visible World 1987–2000 presents an archive of nearly 3,000 photographs taken by the artists on various travels throughout the world. As Weiss says, the project provided a break from the studio: ‘we also needed some fresh air, to get away from this incessant tinkering about, to go out with a camera, looking for interesting things in a passive sense.’
While earlier works had used photographs only to document temporary sculptures, here the artists investigate the medium of photography in its own right. ‘During our first journey there was an intention to find pictures that already exist as such’, Fischli has said, and the series includes much-photographed views such as the New York skyline, Sydney Harbour and the Pyramids. Others are the kind of pictures taken by amateur photographers, conventionally composed, sharply focused, with appealing subject matter such as woodland glades and sunlit gardens. While the work shows the limitations of photography, how it presents only the superficial surface of the ‘visible world’, there is also a sense of awe and wonder. The arrangement of images is broadly chronological, with sequences of orangey sunsets or snow-capped mountains, punctuated by groups of famous world sites. Both the anonymous and the recognisable are given equal billing in this visual encyclopaedia of the world.
Visible World exists in a number of formats; as an artists’ book, as an installation of fifteen light tables displaying a vast slide archive and, presented here, as a three-monitor video installation in which pictures cross-fade from one to another.