Shoot the Breeze: Matthew Bradley

Recently I stumbled into a little contemporary art gallery which was showing work that, at first, I had no idea was photography. Picture a bunch of variously shaded rectangles of marble hanging from white walls, except when you get close, you notice that all of the work is printed on something like sheer cotton. I read the statement and realized it was photography (pictures of foaming water, it turns out) and I said to the person I was with something like, “wow, these are photographs, they’re really nice.” A woman who had been hidden behind a big desk, and who also happened to be the artist, responded immediately: “ya, they’re pictures. I was trying to do something new with photography. No one is doing anything new.” My companion and I agreed in a naive, perfunctory kind of way but her remark stuck with me. I assumed that she was probably an art school grad, and therefore probably correct about the state of contemporary picture-making. Nothing new. And I thought about the dilemma that fine art, theory-based photographers must be faced with in a culture where nearly everyone is taking pictures. Snapshots. Casual arrangements of raw environmental data done up to create the impression of some form of active thought. Playful. Serious. Facile. Whatever. People. Objects. Places.

Which brings us to Matthew Bradley, whose work definitely falls into the category of traditional photography. He finds scenes and he makes them. Nothing new per se. But then why is it good? Am I so unschooled in the heady details of the contemporary art-photo discussion to detach from the pleasure of light and form and texture in order to form a more critical opinion of his pictures? The answer is yes. But then probably so are most people. Certainly lots of people who like photography don’t have the credentials to determine the challenge presented (or not presented) by whatever picture they happen to be admiring. My point is that photography seems to have a unique position in art in which it can really bask in the universal vernacular of reality itself, and not necessarily worry about dismantling the status quo. Photography speaks to us in its plainness. It quite literally communicates the world as seen by another person, without too opaque a layer of subjective interpretation. Matthew Bradley has a cool vision of the world. His photos are great. Have a look!  – Joe McMurray

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1. How would you describe your photos?
Questionable

2. Do you carry your camera with you everywhere you go?
Not always, but I’m getting better.

3. What celebrity would you like to shoot most?
Samuel Herring or Jack Nicholson

4. What animal would you like to be, if not a human?
A Dolphin

5. What’s your current obsession?
Long sleeve t-shirts

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6. Would you like to live forever?
Yes

7. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
“Knees bent, arms straight.”

8. What do you do in your spare time?
Take pictures and hang out with Jess

9. Do you like having your photo taken?
Never!

10. Which photographers do you like right now?
Torjand Rodland, Lucas Blalock, Nico Krijno, Asger Carlsen