Peter Fischli 
and David Weiss
Son et Lumiere
September 8 – November 22, 2020

Son et lumiere (Le rayon vert)
Swiss Army-issued flashlight, turntable,
plastic cup, adhesive tape
6 × 15 × 8 inches
Collection of the artist,
Courtesy of Matthew Marks Gallery


Son et lumière is a characteristic example of artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss’ inventiveness, wit and interest in the relationship of the ordinary to the sublime. In their sculpture, Son et Lumière (1990), an enchanting light spectacle is created, through assembled humble materials and low-fi techniques: a revolving record turntable, refracted colored light, a cheap plastic cup, and an old Swiss Army flashlight fitted with a red and green colored filter. 


The light emanating from the flashlight refracts through a plastic cup on the slightly included surface of the turntable. Only masking tape on the lip of the slanted turntable prevents the cup from rolling off of the surface, as the cup is sent into small but endlessly unpredictable waves of movement on the turntable, quietly scratching the surface and changing the pattern of light projected onto the adjacent wall. As Tacita Dean writes in her essay “Send More Cups” published in Fischli & Weiss’ retrospective catalog, the artists work at “the confluence of cultural pretensions and cultural detritus...their material is our rubbish, our platitudes, and our banalities which they transmute like alchemists.” Like Dean, Fischli and Weiss playfully invoke the phenomena of the green ray both in its rarity and awe-inspiring characteristics through drawing upon traditions like Marcel Duchamp’s “ready-mades,” to elevate the ordinary into a captivating display of light and movement.