Lenscratch Student Prize, Honorable Mention: Matthew Brooks
Truth in photography is a slippery slope. The viewer may assume that the photographer has faithfully represented the subject matter, but the photographer knows otherwise–maybe the camera never lies, but the photographer does. Photographic Artist Matthew Brooks, the 2016 LENSCRATCH Student Prize Honorable Mention winner, plays with perception and truth in his project, Office Space. We are convinced by the subject matter, confused by the brilliant color, and then we recognize the humor of Matthew’s portrayal of bureaucracy and mind numbing environments that are unfortunately nearer to reality than we care to admit.
Matthew Brooks is a Montréal-based artist originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba. He holds a B.F.A. in Photography from Concordia University and will be an M.F.A. candidate at Concordia University in September 2016.
His work has been recently included in group exhibitions at Centre Skol (Montréal, QC) and Galerie POPOP (Montréal, QC) and has been published internationally in online publications such as It’s Nice That (UK), Huffington Post Italy, Fotografia Magazine (Italy), Ain’t Bad Magazine (U.S.A.), and in print in Panoram Italia (Canada) and PhotoEd Magazine (Canada). He is the recipient of numerous scholarships and awards, including support from the Manitoba Arts Council and Concordia University.
As an active research assistant at the Milieux Institute at Concordia University, he has worked with Marisa Portolese, Adad Hannah, Tema Stauffer, and Clara Gutsche among others.
Office Space consists of large-scale photographs produced since 2015 throughout various institutional and governmental offices. The resulting photographs superficially appear to be documentary images but rather are meticulously constructed scenes which utilize institutional architecture and decor as source material to create complex, uncanny sets. Varying degrees of mise-en-scène and intervention are employed to create a world of fictional environments which disorient the viewer’s sense of the real.
To further fictionalize these spaces, colours and forms have been digitally manipulated to enhance their anachronistic mood, calling into question the veracity of the photographic image and exploring the tensions between reality and photographic representation. The eerie quality of these spaces is that of a reality twice removed, as they are both real offices and fictional constructions without a three-dimensional referent.
Broadly, Office Space is an exploration of the bizarre and absurd nature of bureacratic environments. Through my obsessive and neurotic interventions, the frustrations and inherent rigidity of the bureaucratic process are implicitly revealed. These non-spaces exist only as photographs yet are made relatable through a collective experience of governmental and institutional interactions.
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