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Matthew Brandt uses ‘funky materials’ in his photographs

October 16, 2016 // by Jaime DeSimone

Los Angeles photographer Matthew Brandt's work builds on the work of generations of landscape photographers and the history of the photographic process. He makes pictures using the physical matter of the subject in the development process, creating one-of-a-kind prints with methods that make it nearly impossible to create duplicates.

We asked him about his work in MOCA Jacksonville's Retro-spective: Analog Photography in a Digital World, and he provided some one-of-a-kind answers.

Matthew Brandt Portrait a
© Yossi Milo, Matthew Brandt, New York, 2016.

How would you describe your work to someone who's never seen it?

I generally say that I make photographic prints with funky materials.

What ideas do you explore in your work?

I think I've touched upon many; here is a list of a few ideas and subjects that I have touched upon:

  • Landscape imagery
  • Polaroid
  • Color
  • China
  • Cocaine
  • Astronomy
  • Burials
  • Palm trees

Describe your relationship to analog photographic processes.

I think every project that I have worked on has some analog process to it. There is something comforting in seeing something emerge in a physical/chemical/optical way. I like to put my hands on things.

What's the most challenging and/or rewarding part of working with your chosen medium?

The most rewarding and challenging aspect is making a project “click” together in a coherent (not always coherent) way.

Matthew Brandt_465501u1 (Croton reservoir in 1900, in process of demolition), 2014_885
© Matthew Brandt, 465501u1 (Croton reservoir in 1900, in process of demolition), from the series Dust, 2014. Gum Bichromate print made with dust from The Rose Main Reading Room, 58 . x 43 . inches. Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York.

Take one photograph on view in MOCA Jacksonville's exhibition and share what you'd like a visitor to know about it.

I am assuming that you mean a work made by me? But in regards to the Dust work 465501u1, Croton Reservoir in 1900, In Process of Demolition, 2014, I would like a viewer to know how peculiar it was to sweep up dust around the New York Public Library, around so many people, so quiet and so many strange glances.

Where do you find inspiration?

The Pacific Ocean.

What's your workspace like? When and where do you like to create your art?

I just moved studios, so my workspace is a bit of a mess. But actually it always tends to be a mess. Ideas happen anywhere but are usually hashed out in the studio.

Matthew Brandt Studio
Matthew Brandt develops an image in his studio. Image courtesy of the artist.

How do you prepare for a new project?

A project for me always has a somewhat incidental kernel. It always starts as a small idea. From a conversation, a misunderstanding, or a glance. This idea then festers a bit, and if it persists, then perhaps it's worth pursuing.

What is your next project?

I have been visiting and working in Flint, Michigan, for the past several months. I have also been photographing cars.

How will exhibiting your work at MOCA Jacksonville affect your career?

It will send me to space.

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