Emerging artist Matt Brown (WA) is in residence at Fremantle Arts Centre. We caught up with him to have a chat about his upcoming solo exhibition and check out what he’s been up to since he started his residency back in April.
What inspired you to become an artist?
I wanted to be a fireman. As a four year old I couldn’t be a fireman, so my interest in drawing grew from an interest in fire trucks. My fire truck VHS tapes later introduced me to television and I started drawing characters and objects from all the cartoons that I was into.
I also found it interesting that when you are young and you visit a gallery or museum, very few adults can tell you exactly how to become an artist or even how they decide whose work is collected and hung on display. I was making hundreds of drawings all day long but I had no idea how to get on the wall at the Art Gallery of WA or PICA. I always found that quite alluring, the apparent challenge in the pursuit of recognition.
Tell us about your career/practice so far.
I completed my Bachelor of Fine Art at Curtin in 2017. My practice thus far has consisted of investigations into informational systems. I am interested in challenging normalised processes of the visually informative.
Last year, part way through the final year of my degree I had my first show. New and Assorted Diagrams was shown at Carla Adams’ Artist Run Initiative in Fremantle called Smart Casual. It’s a small but great space and I was very fortunate to have an opportunity to exhibit there so early.
Then last September; I was awarded the City of South Perth Emerging Artist Award for one of the works from that first show – an electronic drawing that made use of 1970s telephone index boxes. I began my residency at the FAC in April and have been flat out in the studio ever since.
What have you been working on while you’ve been at FAC?
Essentially I’ve been creating World Showcase Adventure, a dysfunctional and analogue archive. This involves the retrieval of data from the digital plane; gathering of ambient images and text which I then store as physical formats. These pieces include drawings, photographs, 35mm slides, paintings, handwritten notes and vinyl prints.
Rather than cohesive outcomes, I am interested in creating a new kind of informational system; a platform that opens up a way of reading and recognising relationships between images, text and phenomena that were previously disconnected or hidden.
World Showcase Adventure is about to be exhibited at Cool Change Contemporary in the Perth CBD. The show opens Fri 28 Sep and runs until Sat 20 Oct.
The internet and the way information is collected features in your art, are these themes usually a source of creativity for you?
The absolute biggest source. There is such an interesting redundancy of images and text today, precisely in that such an incommensurable amount exist. The internet provides unrivalled access to this immense amount of malleable material – a capital for me to work with.
I am trying to disrupt and challenge the normalised ways in which we usually interact with and consume information online or through communication networks.
Today, due to a democratisation of data and knowledge, historically appropriate methods of archiving and presenting information have become somewhat strange and absurd. My practice involves a process of applying these analogue and absurd methods to subjects that cause them to be broken down and become poetic rather than informative and authoritative.
Information, or rather meaning, is such a volatile construct – it’s not fixed or universal; merely the expression and result of plays of power. In my practice and my work, I am interested in how I can make the volatility of this data and informational capital part of the experience.
After your residency wraps up, what’s next for you?
Following the exhibition at Cool Change I’m going to be spending a few weeks in New York. I want to see a Rangers game and works by Sarah Sze and Camille Henrot. There is also a massive Warhol retrospective at the Whitney, over 250 works and a number of them have not been on public display before.
Once I get back I’ll be busy preparing for my first interstate solo show which will take place in May of next year at FELTspace Gallery in Adelaide. A number of great artists from WA have shown there in recent years (Kieron Broadhurst, Gemma Weston, Teelah George and David Attwood) and I am really excited to be given an opportunity to exhibit at the same space.