Los Angeles Focus | Interview with Matthew Brandt: ‘Illusions of freedom help me to go with my gut’

Matthew Brandt

Matthew Brandt

The artist Matthew Brandt is interested in how examining the fabric of an image can transform its meaning. To this end the artist has experimented with a wide range of materials and manipulations including his recent use of cocaine dust, scattered on velvet to create the illusion of stars. In other works he takes unremarkable views of lakes and mountains and warps them with chemical processes, affording them a new sense of intrigue by their distortion. The images bear the impressions of the chemicals like scars: they ripple and distort and are transformed.

I spoke to the artist further about his work:

Some of your images are warped by liquids and chemicals. What does this alteration, and a certain loss of control over the final image, mean for you?

It is really about embracing chance operations. A lot of my subjects are naturalistic in spirit and it seems appropriate to utilise this idea of letting the work grow and flow as a procedural basis. The materials used for these alterations/warping are always used in relation with their photographic subjects. In other words, the material and image need to make some sort of sense for me.

Stepping Stone Falls 4 C3M2Y2 Series: Waterfalls Multi layered duraclear prints processed with Flint River, Michigan water in led lightbox frame 65 1/4 x 46 ¼ x 2 inches 2016

Stepping Stone Falls 4 C3M2Y2
Series: Waterfalls
Multi layered duraclear prints processed with Flint River, Michigan water in led lightbox frame
65 1/4 x 46 ¼ x 2 inches
2016

With modern photography manipulation such as the use of ‘filters’ images are softened and we are encouraged to be nostalgic. What does colour and fading mean in your own work?

These nostalgic filters are in my opinion trendy because of a kind of appreciation for materiality in relation to the seeming infinite nature of digital pictures. What is interesting about this is that it is an algorithm to fake the look of history and value. A veneer of nostalgia that in itself is something really wonderful. In my work, the colour fades are indicators of the image making process, and this process of how the pictures are made is always a participant in the actual content of my work. These process marks also can be seen as kinds of scars, traumatic experiences, tattoos, or long-term relationships…

Nurphar Lake WY 2  Series: Lakes and Reservoirs c-print soaked in Nurphar Lake water 72 x 105 inches 2013

Nurphar Lake WY 2
Series: Lakes and Reservoirs
c-print soaked in Nurphar Lake water
72 x 105 inches
2013

How does the media inform your work? Of the many images you are exposed to which are the ones that interest you the most, and that you draw upon?

I often directly draw from media imagery. I have been working on pictures in which I scan newspaper images and zoom far into the halftone dot matrix of the lithographic press. I am attracted to these formats in which mainstream images are displayed. Though newspapers are becoming old news… perhaps it is this obsolescence which attracts me.

'A demonstrator hands flowers to a Thai soldier...'   L.A. Times, 02.13.2014 series: Clippings rhinestuds on canvas 55 1/4 x 32 1/4 inches 2016

‘A demonstrator hands flowers to a Thai soldier…’ L.A. Times, 02.13.2014
series: Clippings
rhinestuds on canvas
55 1/4 x 32 1/4 inches
2016

Could you explain the role of layering within your images?

Layering is the crutch of early colour photography. And I like to utilise these aspects of image making in order to stack and build a picture.

How does the city of LA shape you and your work? Is there a certain artistic character to the city?

More space and illusions of freedom help me to go with my gut.

 NGC 2070 Series: Night Skies Cocaine dust on photographer’s velvet 60 1/8 inches in diameter 2016


NGC 2070
Series: Night Skies
Cocaine dust on photographer’s velvet
60 1/8 inches in diameter
2016

 

‘Pictures From Wai’anae’  installation view chromogenic prints buried in Wai’anae, Hawai’i

‘Pictures From Wai’anae’ installation view
chromogenic prints buried in Wai’anae, Hawai’i

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