Elizabeth Houston Gallery | "Normal Pictures" by Andy Mattern
Opening June 26th, Elizabeth Houston Gallery in Lower East Side brings a collection of photographs that are anything but normal. The exhibition titled “Normal Pictures” is the second in Andy Mattern's series, Average Subject / Medium Distance. Showcasing the artist’s exploration and questioning of what ‘good’ photography is, he transforms conventional photo-making into wholly unconventional images.
“Rather than pointing the camera at the world, I focus on the things that I find beautiful and interesting. I'm kind of pointing it at its own logic, looking at the tools themselves and, in particular, trying to deconstruct those tools to see something that I haven't seen before,” the artist explains.
Laying the groundwork with special paper dials used to calculate exposure, lighting, and depth of field in the 50s, 60s and 70s, Mattern then transforms ideas of conventional photography. “I found myself looking at these little tools and trying to see what was behind all of the suggestions,” he said.
Using Photoshop, his helping hand, Andy removed the words and images that once guided the user in creating a ‘perfect photograph’. Merely preserving one word and covering the rest with original dust and blemishes found on the surface. The artist creates a sort of mysterious poem — leaving interpretation up to the viewer.
In his work, Mattern seeks to go beyond the outdated guidelines and demonstrate that 'a good photograph' isn't necessarily one that adheres to long-established rules and customs. "The important thing to me, about being an artist, is to recognize tools that we use are not neutral," he shared. "My hope is to see beyond the suggestion that the tool imposes and to find something new. Instead of reading between the lines, I want to read behind the lines."
The exhibition is on view through August 15 at Elizabeth Houston Gallery in New York.