Adhoc Interviews

The New Construct—Digital Experiments: Brandon Nichols

Brandon Nichols is a contemporary artist interested in examining the artifacts of consumer culture, creating studio stills to convey conceptual ideas, and exploring the intricacies of perception and memory and their relationship to digital photography. He received his BFA in Photography at The University of North Texas in December 2011. Currently he lives and works in the Dallas, Texas area.

Untitled. Digital Photography, 2014
Untitled. Digital Photography, 2014

When do you think you first developed an interest in art?

I guess I first got into art in kindergarten. I got an award for making this dinosaur out of clay and pouring glitter all over it, it was pretty cutting edge. I think my mom still has it in a closet somewhere. But seriously, I have always wanted to be an artist. It seemed like the best career ever when I was younger, now I don’t see it as a career as much as a passion that keeps me from going crazy.

The funny thing about the glitter clay dinosaur is that I see it being somewhat similar in how you construct your current studio scenes. I get a sense of playfulness, but also considered some of your work as commentary on contemporary photography and technology. So I was curious, what is your current body of work about?

My current body of work comes from a love of studio photography. That is using artificial lights and light modifiers in a controlled environment. I construct sets from found materials, thinking about how the textures and content can play off of each other. Each image holds a different meaning to me. A lot of my work is informed by my love for science fiction novels and the ideas they contain. Many of the things I photograph come from my thinking on the future of technology, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality. When I’m working I never really know what an image is going to turn into, there is a lot of experimentation involved.

Untitled 2014.
Untitled. Digital Photography, 2014

What role do you think the viewer has in your work and practice?

I have no idea what the viewer is bringing into my work. A lot of the things I shoot have a familiarity in some ways, like books, slinkys, and leaves, but are set inside this unfamiliar hyper-real studio setting. Unfamiliar can translate into uncomfortable to some, but it’s exactly where I want to be. My work is not traditional, I’m trying to make something new and different.

When I’m working I never really know what an image is going to turn into, there is a lot of experimentation involved.

What do you hope the viewer will take with them after experiencing your art?

I really just want the viewer to study and interpret my work in their own way. I’m always fascinated by the conversations I have with others that come out from this series, things I never would have got out of it on my own. In my own philosophy, looking at Art is about experience, you study it, you glean whatever you can from it, and you are now able to recycle and reuse it in your own way.

What artists, movements or experiences have influenced your art practice?

A lot of the artist coming out of the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf have had a huge influence on my work—Thomas Demand, Thomas Ruff, Gerhard Richter to name a few. Tom Friedman is one of my favorite American conceptual artist. I also love the work coming from newer artist like David Brandon Greeting, Lucas Blalock, and Thomas Albdorf. I think those artist are also interested in taking photography to a new place and definitely not afraid to experiment with the medium.

Is inspiration something that just happens to you or is it something you cultivate?

Inspiration for me comes from both places. It is cultivated through learning and experiencing new things, but when it comes down to making work I just have to play and experiment. I always have a sketchbook with me for ideas and inspiration but I never know how successful they will be until I see it in front of the lens.

Untitled 2014.

Considering contemporary artists such as Lucas Blalock and Thomas Albdorf, which we both share common interest in, Do you think photography in art has changed over the past decade? if so, do you think it’s for the better or worse as an artist actively working with the medium?

I think it’s broadened and expanded what is now possible. I don’t see it as a negative thing at all. Digital technology has changed the pace of the medium exponentially, I see that as a positive.

Untitled 2014.
Untitled 2014.

What are your thoughts in current trends of internet art and the pressure to constantly upload new work? Do you think it is important to have work exhibited both online as well as in person? If so, why do you think it is important?

I think it probably is important to show your work in a physical form. We still rely on the physical environments to really interact socially with Art, that may not always be the case but for now it is. Blogs and websites are great for showing people your work who might not have seen it otherwise, but only having your work online can be isolating in a lot of ways.

Untitled 2014.
Untitled 2014.

Have you read, watched, or listened to anything interesting lately?

I just finished reading a book called Genghis Khan and the making of the modern world. It was really fascinating. If you are interested in history and ancient warfare I highly suggest it.

Check out more of Brandon’s work:
Tumblr @Brandon Nichols

Last modified: January 20, 2015