Matthew Gamber (b. 1977) holds a BFA from Bowling Green State University, and an MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts / Tufts University. Recent exhibitions include: Second Nature: Abstract Photography Then and Now, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MA, 2012 The 2012 deCordova Biennial, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MA, 2012; Flash Forward 2011 Exhibition, Magenta Foundation, Toronto, CA, 2011; The Sum of All Colors, Sasha Wolf Gallery, New York, 2011. Awards include: Traveling Fellowship, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2011; Humble Art Foundation, New Photography Grant, 2011; Grant Recipient, LEF Foundation, New England (awarded for Big RED & Shiny), 2007 & 2005.
A number of years ago, my work was featured on the Plates to Pixels online blog. It was and is, a site that looks at photography from a different perspective and celebrates a broad range of imagery. It was there that I was introduced to the curator, Blue Mitchell and over time, I have witnessed the evolution of Blue’s wonderful annual print magazine, Diffusion, that has evolved into a publication that is stellar…
From the first issue to Volume 4, (which was just issued this week), I have seen an amazing explosion of photographers working outside of the digital realm, using historical techniques, new ways to consider the photograph, and new approaches to the medium. And Mr. Mitchell has been at the forefront of showcasing that explosion celebrating it all in print. To order your copy, go here.
Diffusion comes out once a year–Volume 4 is 95 pages packed with articles, exhibitions, and exposure. I am thrilled to be a contributing writer in this issue, offering up an interview with the amazing John Chervinsky. Articles include: Exploring the Muse: Susan Kae Grant, Ken Rosenthal and Polly Chandler by Susan Burnstine,Transient Reflections and Fixed Impressions: Thoughts on the Physical Photograph in a Digital Age by Jeffrey Baker, Abstract Photography by Ryan Nabulsi.
In addition, this issue of Diffusion has featured artists profiled by photographers, a Hand-Crafted Invitational, and a Muse Juried Group Showcase. Indeed a wonderful collection of images and writing that is so worth the annual wait.
As Blue states, “Diffusion took well over a year of contemplation, conversations, considerations, and finally creation. It’s an honor to present a fresh and dynamic look at what I feel represents the current state of unconventional photography. Diffusion is an independent reader and contributor supported annual photography publication. Diffusion strives to spotlight artists pushing the boundaries of traditional photographic processes as well as introducing new and innovative voices through articles, interviews, and image galleries. This volume’s content came about as organically as any other, but I feel we’ve really pushed the boundaries of what we were—and are becoming something entirely new.”
By design, we’ve moved more into the realm of book-making rather than the traditional magazine periodical format. There are several reasons for this, but most importantly is the nature of what Diffusion is intended to be: a limited edition annual.
The Muse group showcase theme pushed the entire feel and content of this volume. On a personal level, I have been captivated by the concept of the muse ever since my first art history class in college. I have ventured into exploring it in my own work and have found that the illusive muse truly does exist.
After exploring this theme in our group showcase we discovered not only does it exist for other artists too, but that the muse’s energy is embodied in some very diverse entities.
The other overarching theme that transpire in these pages is that of science: photography as science, and the exploration of physics, chemistry, and cognitive science. This is balanced with a good dose of photo history peppered within the articles PLUS a new section: The Artist’s Hand. I’m excited to include this brand new feature that is focused on photo-based art where the photographer has left some kind of thumbprint behind on the work itself. This section is a balance between the history and description of a process with some exceptional examples of the process being implemented by contemporary photographers.
I truly believe that the work in Volume IV was conceived by alchemists—my hope is that you will find inspiration amongst their creations and perhaps even find the creative echo of your own muse as you explore and adsorb the enchantment hidden within the pages.
One of the best rewards of being in Boston last week was meeting photographers. I’ve been a fan of Matthew Gamber and his compelling imagery that challenges us to rethink how we see, think about and perceive color, so it was great to finally put a name to a face at the Flash Forward Festival.
Matthew holds a BFA from Bowling Green State University and an MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/Tufts University. His star is on the rise as his work seems to be everywhere: included in the 2012 deCordova Biennial, the the Abstract Photography Then and Now exhibition at the deCordova, at the Flash Forward 2011 Exhibition, and last year at the Sasha Wolf Gallery in New York. He has also been granted numerous awards and fellowships, and just got off the plane from Santa Fe, where he attended Review Santa Fe.
The photographs in Any Color You Like are an experiment in how photography can confuse our perception of information. These photographs represent objects whose primary function is to simulate our observation of color. When these items are rendered in a traditional black–and–white format, the information that remains is merely an abstraction of its previous form.
Though the sumptuous images in Dustin Arnold and Nicholas Cope’s Stamen series may resemble a throwback to the romantic oil paintings of the 19th century, they’re actually the contemporary result of a string of combinations: first of ideas, then of chemical reactions and photography.
The seeds of the work were planted back in the late aughts when Arnold, an art director with a background in fashion, and Cope, a still-life photographer with a focus on architecture, first met while working together on a commercial project. They became fast friends, recognizing in each other a desire to go beyond basic editorial work and move into the world of fine art. So they teamed up, working together in their free time. “Besides getting along really well and having similar tastes and perspectives on producing work, it was really an opportunity to do something that satisfied our own desires and own needs,” says Arnold, on the phone from Los Angeles where he and Cope are both based.
They planned to create a series of projects, which they could then distribute via their own periodical publication. Slated for release in early 2012, Stamen is the second project of their endeavor, full of lush images which represent the life-cycle of a flower. The duo say the idea was inspired by the abstract photography Cope had been experimenting with, which Arnold found intriguing and wanted to take further. They then began building ideas off one another’s suggestions.
“It kind of led us to work on something really classical like flower arrangements and to turn it on its head a little and start experimenting with chemicals,” says Arnold. “A very New World thing combined with an Old World thing like paintings of flower arrangements.” The dreamy, hazy look of each photograph was created by combining substances such as dry ice, sodium chloride, lye, and what they dub other “household chemicals you shouldn’t really mix together,” and applying them to traditional floral arrangements.
While the flowers were all meticulously arranged and color was discussed endlessly, the duo really had no idea what to expect once the chemicals were applied and the camera started snapping. “It was all preparedness for what we didn’t know was going to happen,” says Cope, laughing, though he adds that both he and Arnold were more than happy with the final outcome of the images.
Though a team consisting of an art director and a photographer isn’t unusual for any project, Arnold and Cope both say that their method of working together — slowly, thoughtfully, with a curious, rather than a commercial, motivation — is unique and has allowed them to create work that they find satisfying. And though they fully collaborate on their work as they each bounce ideas off of one another, Cope says they don’t compromise anything.
“We’re really just making exactly what we want to make. Which is rare. “
Megan Gibson is a writer-reporter at the London bureau of TIME. Find her on Twitter at @MeganJGibson.