Matthew Brandt, Loveland Reservoir, CA 4 (2011)
C-print soaked in Loveland Reservoir water


Matthew Brandt pushes photography to its limit

A short chat at Paris Photo with the photographer who develops his prints using water from a lake

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One of the most evident things we've noticed at Paris Photo is that photographers are still trying to push the boundaries of what photographs can actually be. One such photographer who caught our eye is California-based Matthew Brandt and his washed-out photographs at M+B Gallery (stand D45).

We caught up with Brandt this morning to ask him about his Lakes and Reservoirs series. He says he starts off with "the most Calendaresque and complete" photo-representation that he can find of that lake or reservoir. These calender-like photographs are then processed by soaking the C-type print in water collected from the lakes he photographs.

Brandt sees his work as both photograph and 'art object'. "In my photographs it is interesting to reflect on photography’s inherent nature of passing moments with a fragile and fleeting/transient printing material or method. No matter how hard people try to prevent a photograph/moment from fading, it always will - no matter how fancy the UV resistant glass is. It's nice to think about how light creates and degrades a photographs. Because of the nature of my printing methods, it is often impossible to make duplicates, and for me, this contradictory space within the mechanical connotations of photography is an interesting place to be."

Brandt says it's important to retain the experimental nature that photography allows. "There are so many historical methods that have been used to make a photograph, and they all have inherent signifiers that relate or don’t relate to a viewer. A lot of the meaning within my work is in the process, and how it relates to the photographic subject. As there are so many subjects out there, it is another step to determine its most suitable material manifestation. In order to find it, there needs to be experimentation. If I stick with something, it may mean that I am not getting out of the house enough."

And where does Brandt see photography headed? "Photography has so many applications, that I see it expanding further in many directions to many representational forms. But it definitely seems that there is something in the air to rekindle the notion of a photograph as a unique object. It is impossible to say whether this is the extended future of photography, but I like to think that much like photography has loosened up the painters in its birth, digital methods have loosened up us photographers."

Click through the images to see the result of Brandt's experimentations and the colour-washed and bleached-out effects that are produced.


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Matthew Brandt