IMAGE FOR CONCEPT:
INDIRECT REPRESENTATION IN PHOTOGRAPHY
OCTOBER 15 - NOVEMBER 30, 2019
LECTURE & RECEPTION NOVEMBER 21 AT 5PM
Recognizing the place and potential for alternative processes and image making in an academic exhibition environment.
Photography, like no other medium, is intrinsically tied to the technology used to produce it. Beginning with the most primitive attempts at recording projections through a camera obscura, image makers through history have pushed photographic technology through each iteration of its evolution. Early processes such as dageuretypes, tintypes, albumin, and cyanotypes were quickly refined and polished in the pursuit of cleaner, clearer, and more accessible imagery; as was the camera machine itself. In the roughly 200 years since the first working prototype of a machine that could capture a fixed image the camera apparatus has matured in ways that none could have predicted during the early days of its inception, and whose latest iterations still manage to astound and surprise.
Alongside the technology, the role of user has progressed in a similar manner. From operator, to technician, to photographer, to artist, the user in this history has been both object and subject, innovator and servant.
Recognizing photography and the role of the photographer in an academic environment requires an examination of this non-linear, experiment-based, results oriented process and the people who pursue it. Image For Concept brings together the work of four image makers utilizing the photographic medium and traditional photographic materials in processes that deviate from tradition. The resulting imagery is displayed, installed, or otherwise exhibited in an academic venue—an environment that encourages deviation, experimentation, and supports both successes and failures as integral aspects of process.
Andy Mattern holds an MFA in Photography from the University of Minnesota and a BFA in Studio Art from the University of New Mexico. Since 2015, he has served as Assistant Professor of Photography and Digital Media at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. Mattern's work has been exhibited widely including at the New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, NM; the Minnesota Museum of American Art, St. Paul, MN; Masur Museum of Art, Monroe, LA; Silver Eye Center for Photography, Pittsburgh, PA; Candela Gallery, Richmond, VA; and the Photographic Centre Peri in Turku, Finland. Mattern’s photographs have been featured and reviewed in a variety of publications including The New Yorker, Camera Austria, and Photonews. He has been the recipient of various including the Arthur Griffin Legacy Award, Art 365 from the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition, and the Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. His work is held in the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the New Mexico Museum of Art, the Tweed Museum of Art, and others. He is represented by Elizabeth Houston Gallery in New York.
Turning the camera on its own logic, the photographs in Average Subject / Medium Distancereconfigure paper guides once used to determine exposure and other image settings. Stripped of example imagery, technical numbers, and explanatory text, these relics from mid- century photographic practice are reduced to their underlying structure. In the process of removing this information, digital traces are created, shifting the surface into a rupture between physical and virtual, analog and digital, functional and useless.
This process creates a new surface that hints at formal mandates in the medium. A single word remains in each composition in its original location, while all other information has been neutralized. This word operates as a springboard for interpretation while pointing to the priorities and conventions conveyed by the original object.
Bradly Brown received his BFA in Photography from the University of North Texas in 2002. Soon after graduating, Brown relocated to New York, NY, to work as a photographer and designer. In 2011, Brown returned to Texas to receive his MFA in sculpture from Texas Christian University where he co-founded the artist collective HOMECOMING! Committee and began working as art director for Semigloss Magazine. His work has been exhibited at Rice University, the The Dallas Contemporary, Fort Worth Contemporary Arts, Hiroshima City University and was included in the 2013 Berlin Becher Triennial and the 2014 Dallas Biennial. Brown was a recipient of the Lawndale Artist Studio Program (2015-1016), the Fort Worth Weekly’s Visionary Award (2014), Mercedes Benz Financial Service Scholarship (2013) and the Bean Distinguished Lecture Series, St. Anselm College (2008). He is currently focusing most of his time working as Galley Curator, and Professor of Art at San Jacinto College’s South Campus, in Houston, Tx.
As the separation between our physical and digital surroundings becomes increasingly blurred, and we must continually re-engineer the boundaries of the artistic medium. Imperative to my practice, photography is a tool which allows the work to begin as experiential and expand into the cerebral due to its ability to bridge the gap between documentation and expression.
Blending drawing and painting with the process of photography has led to a series of digitally produced renderings that reassess the tools and techniques from photographic history. In both Trees, and Webs, the computer monitor becomes my camera lucida, as every detail of a photograph is interpreted by my hand using a stylus and trackpad. Each leaf of a tree is identified, each strand of the web is recognized while staying true to the original photograph. After rendering the drawing, the output of the digital image onto a physical material challenges the idea of the sacred object. The torn sketch book paper or the frayed edges of the canvas, imbue the work with uniqueness, yet the image itself is infinitely reproducible. Similar to the cliché verre, these pieces question how the art object is valued; what is the worth of a physical object as compared to the digital information that defines it?