Matthew Brandt: Lakes and Reservoirs
From a photographer who will step on strangers’ balconies and hike to the top of hills to capture the perfect photograph comes Lakes and Reservoirs, a series of prints that were created using the water of the lakes photographed.
Matthew Brandt, an experimental photographer, is no stranger to taking more than his subjects’ images home with him after a day of photographing. Be it a friend, a tree, a bee or a lake — Brandt makes certain that the subject is as involved in the process of the development of the image as it is present in the image itself.
When capturing the images from his photographic series entitled “Lakes and Reservoirs” Brandt carried two things with him: his camera and a five-gallon jug to fill up with lake water. The process, quite simply, is as follows. After taking the photograph, collecting a generous water sample, and making his prints, Brandt pours the water into a large tray and submerges the print in the water. As he describes it, “from this point I wait for the water to break down its own photographic image. Depending on the image density and water, this breakdown time can take days or weeks”.
In addition to lake water, body fluids and bugs have also been used in his dark room. Brandt once made salted-paper prints of a portrait of his friend using the salt from the subject’s tears (I wonder how he made him cry?). In his series entitled Honeybees, Brandt used an emulsion of crushed bees as an ingredient to develop his photographs of the insects (to be clear, he did not kill the bees, but rather reportedly found hundreds of them dead and dying along the California shoreline).
In his work, Brandt aims to explore the idea that his images are mirrors of themselves, constituting themselves physically of the subject that they reflect visually. For Brandt, this series also attempts to parallel two examples of obsolescence— that of the lowering waterlines of the lakes (and consequently degrading water quality) and that of the c-prints he makes, outdated by more efficient photo printing technologies.
In many of his images, the calm surface of the lake is violently distorted by the chemical constituents of the water, interrupting its seemingly flawless facade, and in some cases, obliterating more than half of the original image. Read into them what you will, but I would argue that there is something undeniable in these images that taps into our modern eco-consciousness. If the constituents of the water can cause such noticeable chemical reactions in the dark room, how does this affect the natural environment to which the water belongs?
Matthew Brandt’s series “Lakes and Reservoirs” is currently featured in his exhibition “Lakes, Trees, and Honeybees” at the Yossi Milo Gallery in New York, NY. For more of Matthew Brandt’s work, click here.
- Gabrielle Doiron