making sense of something ordinary
Understanding the camera as apparatus and the photograph as interface, Matthew Pevear experiments with the idea of embodied looking. His work clarifies how our understanding of and interactions with the world are shaped by seeing it through the camera’s lens and mediated by its translation into the captured image. In his daily practice of photography, Pevear intentionally seeks out banal, everyday encounters, spending time experiencing them through the camera’s viewfinder. His photographs reveal the value of his shifting perspectives, be they spatial and temporal, as with the multiple angles of a reflective building at different times of day, or conceptual, for example with his images of distinct objects or scenes that relate to the shared idea of “looking through.” 

His accumulation of photographs becomes a collection of images ready for analysis in the studio. Using the frame as a productive constraint, he physically cuts, arranges, and pastes printed photographs onto the same matte board. Each frame creates a visual sequence of images that build upon one another like words in a sentence, gaining meaning through contextual play. Yet, as Pevear notes, such “sentences” might have multiple footnotes or end unresolved with an ellipsis, encouraging the viewer to fill in the blanks and reach their own conclusion. 

These curated image collections showcase the camera’s ability to expand one’s experience. For Pevear, the camera acts as an organizing tool, shaping his understanding of time, space, and scale through formal collapse, that is, by flattening a moment’s actions, angles and forms into a single plane. The resultant photograph freezes the moment in perpetuity to create a sequence of experience—the photograph containing an object that can be encountered over and over again, both as a solitary image and as existing within a larger visual culture, something increasingly prevalent in the digital age. Pevear’s phone screen still-lifes highlight the inevitably of this. The smart phone in situ puts the photographic nature of his work on display, uniting the camera and photograph into a single entity. His framed compositions position embodied looking as an intentional artistic practice, drawing attention to how we comprehend daily life through the apparatus and interface, turning experience into sequence.

—Allie Mickle

Artist Statement
Observation is central to my practice. I make photographs constantly, using the camera to probe and mediate my daily life, and the scenes I encounter. Bank buildings on the side of the road, flowers in the field behind my house, my family, my friends. All becomes photographable. The rectilinear structure of the viewfinder allows me a space to organize and interpret the visual world around me. The fixed perspective of the camera is imperative to how I see and move through space. I am drawn to disruptions in surface, images of camera and phone screens, and processing trays all show residue of photographic process: fingerprints, fixer stains, pin holes, digital pixels. These images bring attention to the surface of the photographic image, and raise questions about looking, seeing, and the spaces in which we view photographs.

My current body of work looks to structure the photographic sequence into readable sentences. Formal, spatial, and material relationships all come to play, surface and connection, as well as movement. Movement of my body with the camera, movement of the camera shutter, movement of the static image in sequence. Through carefully considered arrangements of photographic prints I bring attention to the camera and the screen, the flattening of space in photographs, and looking through, looking at, and looking past.

Matthew Pevear (b. 1993, Winthrop, MA) is an artist currently based in Columbus, Ohio. He received his BFA from the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University in 2015 and is currently an MFA Candidate at The Ohio State University.  Traditionally working in photography, Pevear’s work looks to explore the banal and ubiquitous. Focusing on simple scenes found in the everyday, his work extracts the subtle, yet complicated, imagery that exists in daily life. Pevear has shown work nationally with Light Work in Syracuse NY,  Lane Meyer Projects PDA, in Denver, Colorado, the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Arts in Boulder, Colorado and DATELINE Gallery in Denver, Colorado, and has self-published two volumes of art photography books.
Photo: Tommy Kha