Oliver Matich submitted 'Reobject,' this black abyss video w digital shape n texture rotating piece by piece like a space showroom. n because of how the screening fell into place, we are using it as a screensaver for the entire exhibition,/ like a loading screen,/ a little apart from a trailer. we spoke over email about how Oliver ended up making what he thinks is Fine Art on a Photography course ~? ~? im going to highlight the bits i love.🌠
can you tell us about the film u are showing for Nanny Cam?
It’s a moving image piece I started working on in my first unit on my photography degree which was supposed to be a super craft oriented unit to do with making big analog prints and stuff, so I was thinking how I could subvert that kinda and try and argue that digital images in a lot of ways have a more confrontational ‘thinginess’ to them because of how all images are viewed on identical physical objects like iphone screens. I was really into object ontology and Heidegger and philosophy along those lines at that point, plus the work of Jeff Wall. I was also quite big into trying to get to grips with the sublime – I was sorta realizing the potential for a digital sublime as I was getting into working with Blender, this sweet free 3D graphics program where you can create crazy detailed hyperreal renders. I ended up figuring out a way to turn a photograph into a 3D sculpture in Blender, where the luminance of the photo displaces a plane. I then turn that into a glass material, and put another photograph behind it (which the camera can only see thru the first one) – so it’s a photograph looking at another photograph. It was really just a result of playing around but it ended up addressing all the ideas I had in my head so I was stoked.
do you think you r a very technical visual artist?
Yeah I think so, I mean I know some artists that are way more knowledgeable than me with technology but I’m pretty much a huge geek that happened to be bad at maths so I couldn’t go and study science. So I ended up going to uni doing what I thought I was best at, which was photography, but really got into fine art kinda by accident because to be honest photography is kinda easy and boring and pretty ignorant to how problematic/simple it is conceptually. That being said; I always end up still thinking like art practice is a science and usually that involves trying to find technical solutions to the visual questions I wanna answer with my work. I’m also just plain visually interested in the potential of technology to create just mad art that goes beyond what we can imagine – stuff like neural network image processing and VR are just downright cool I think. An interesting thing is it’s all self taught really, even with the high level stuff. All this stuff is there on youtube and facebook groups etc – I feel like people assume you need to do courses in 3D effects or whatever but I learned everything I know off free internet resources and friends I’ve made online.
ooooo this is good
but how do you distinguish Photography from Fine Art? u kinda say you ended up making ‘Fine Art’ on ur course, I’m wondering about that line n crossover?? and it was a fuzzy line when we were curating and we actually changed our minds about it half way through the open call.
Aw man that’s a tuff one. I use that distinction a lot mostly because of the drastic difference in personality and approach between most of the photographers I know versus people like me who are distancing themselves from photography and being artists in a broader sense. A lot of that for me comes down to the kinda problematic aspects of what most photographic practice ends up being - photography is like, relentless, mechanised, obsessive gazing right at it’s core. Not that that is inherently a bad thing, it just often is.
Idk how valid I am to make the comment as a guy (my femme art friends have said the same thing to be fair) but the gaze of photography and the ‘fashion of the image’ is so strong that I even see photog work made to be feministic that kinda ends up being the same male gazey thing it tries to subvert, usually involving female nudes or progressive fashion shots. it’s not even the photographer's faults really (it’d be wack for me to be critiquing feminist artists lol), they have good intention, but the images kinda do their own thing.
Beyond that example there is something at the level of the way of thinking as a photographer that in the current social/fashion/cultural climate is unavoidably problematic even when people want to be woke with it. people go nuts with a camera in their hand man idk why really, a lot of it is personalities like I say. photographers tend to think they are right and that they don’t need to answer questions. That comes into the structure of our course - we aren’t assessed in our critiques, and our critiques don’t discuss the concept so much, they lean to talking about the composition or colour balance or how you printed the thing, and a fat list of names for you to research. We had in what we think we did as a big journal or research file and that’s it done. I’m mad thankful for my theory tutor who is really pushing people to ask the questions in the department, shout out Lee Mackinnon. It’s pretty evident with my coursemates that most of the people really engaging with that kinda critical mindset, getting to be really knowledgeable on feminism or postcolonial or queer stuff, that whole area of social critical thinking, they tend away from calling themselves photographers directly after a while purely because of association. A big outlet seems to be to turning to video/installation led work, which is probably because they start realising photography tends to be more selfish, whereas installations end up being for other people. At the same time, as a tool photog can create beautiful artworks, but you need to approach it from a new angle.
Again it might seem rare me talking about this as a cishet white guy, because like my work isn’t directly about any of that kinda stuff, but this whole thought process really become a big force behind why I’m always trying to deconstruct the way people see and how images ‘operate’. I’ve not got the closeness to those issues to make work about them directly I’d just be ’talking over’ the more important voices of people who do have that closeness. I’m hoping my work can give like, a better platform for other people’s more socially critical work by deconstructing the fundamental thing which seems to me to be looking. This came about after feeling very sickly going to Photo London and Paris Photo, and you see the most horrendously problematic or shallow or pretentious work selling for crazy money whereas really great stuff gets ignored because nobody is thinking about what an image is, how they emerge etc. It’s pretty mad the stuff that gets allowed to perpetuate because of lack of self-awareness in photography.
I’m totally with what Zarina said in your review of the Wolfgang show at Tate, photography is this closed loop thing that is just kinda authoritarian, it has that anxious feeling. Oftentimes it’s just grim. I wanna do it in that loose, nice way like Wolfgang does, and try and make it ‘for people’ like he does. Idk though like I say, it’s a mad complex thing I kinda hate thinking about. I’m lucky because I happen to be at this stage where the whole way of thinking ‘photographically’ is getting subverted by how imaging technology is growing with digital stuff. Richard Mosse is cool in how he’s done that - he’s using mad process to subvert photographic ideas so he can tell a story better. I mean obviously there are mad critical discussions to be had about this divide, trying to suss it out - comparing it with sculpture and painting is mad interesting. I just think the social side of the distinction is more important at the min.
amazin i feel like these are the things i suspected but i needed to speak to an insider, u kno?ok What is your favourite film?
Lost In Translation, hands down.
who r ur favourite instagram accounts?
Totally mess with Yuri Patterson’s account. SO clean. My friend Nika (__n____________) has it locked in too, she sees things nobody else does. I think Amalia Ulman is a genius too. And thewhitepube obviously. I follow a bunch of people who do fashion at CSM who always have me inspired outfit wise. I’m more of a facebook head though being truthful.
what’s it been like studying in Bournemouth?
Not great, honestly. As unis go, I think it’s a good one, but as a place, we’re isolated and in a kinda bubble that can get really limiting. If I had to describe Bournemouth in 2017, it’s kinda like a giant vape shop. I don’t think it has the atmosphere it used to when Wolfgang Tillmans and Nick Knight were here that people imagine it does. Thanks capitalism for making the uni money obsessed. At times, it’s kinda like being in a dystopian society in the town centre. I’ve never really felt as threatened day to day as I do here, and most of us arty types feel that way here. It’s a breath of fresh air when we manage to escape to Bristol or London for the weekend. Still tho I have great friends here and we all kinda feel the same way about it, so we have a kinda unique bond in that we rely on each other more than people in other places do. There is nothing here without your friends really and that’s a cool bond I don’t really see in London or Liverpool or the other fancy cities where you can go out and meet cool people at art/music events and stuff. It leads to a really great climate to develop your practice socially speaking, but I’m not sure if that counters the effect of being so isolated. Can’t knock the New Forest though, damn. It’s pretty down here.
how will it feel to see ur film in an institution?
Awesome! Even though it’s all pushing buttons, it’s days of my massive computer sitting at 100% turning my tiny halls of residence hell cabin into an oven to make it. So it’ll be nice if some people get to see it and see something pretty or interesting in it. That’s personal moments, people and places I’ve loved. Kinda nice to share it even in its abstracted form.
finally bc im into them atm/ always
fave internet video and fave music video ? ? ~
Fav internet video is probably “gucci mane explaining the sauce” but there are sooooo many/
Fav music video another tuffie but I’m gonna go with Murlo’s videos which he makes himself. Princess Nokia’s videos are crazy too. Idk how I feel bc it’s problematic asf but I wanna say the Wyclef Jean video by Young Thug is fascinating arghhhh 🎇
u can follow Oliver on Instagram here