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How to Make Textured Photographs with Dead Skin and Cheez Whiz

mary's lake print soaked in water

From the series “Lakes and Reservoirs.” Mary’s Lake, MT 6, 2012, Chromogenic print soaked in Mary’s Lake water
Matthew Brandt, courtesy of Yossi Milo Gallery, New York

Matthew Brandt’s prints were created with organic substances. We’re talking Cheez Whiz, kool-aid and dead skin. You name it, and he’s probably used it or has it stashed away somewhere for future use. His rather unusual approach to photography involves incorporating the subject into the actual prints.

yuba lake soaked in yuba lake water

From the series Lakes and Reservoirs. Yuba Lake, UT 3, 2010 Chromogenic print soaked in Yuba Lake water.
Matthew Brandt, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York.

different types of gum in silkscreen on paper

Bubble Gum 1, 2012. From the series Taste Tests in Color Silkscreen on paper with Winterfresh, Double Bubble, Juicy Fruit, Bubbilicious grape and Doublemint gum.
Matthew Brandt, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York.

Brandt tells Slate in an email interview:

“When photography first started, there was no precedent of how to make a photograph,” Brandt wrote. “Photographers were using whatever they could figure out to make it work, which I’m sure were some wacky solutions. When I [first] used Cheez Whiz to print a photograph, it was more about the cultural placement of Cheez Whiz that interested me, i.e., America(ish) circa late 20th century … whereas Niepce made the first photograph in France with bitumen of Judea, which is a type of tar.”

print with dust embedded

From the series “Dust Caloptima City Parkway (East) Suite 400,” 2012. Gum Bichromate print made with dust swept from Suite 400.
Matthew Brandt, courtesy of Yossi Milo Gallery, New York

silkscreen on paper soaked in kool-aid print

Kool-Aid 1, 2012. From the series Taste Tests in Color Silkscreen on paper with raspberry-lemonade, tropical punch, lemonade and grape Kool-Aid.
Matthew Brandt, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York.

His method for making prints can take days or even weeks to complete, which adds to the overall effect of the finished product.

“The serendipitous interactive quality of the materials is always important in the works. In some ways I consider my work to orchestrate an interaction between material and image. I try to step back as much as possible to let process take hold, but there is always guiding that needs to be done.”

photo of big bear lake soaked in water

Big Bear Lake, CA A4, 2012, Chromogenic print soaked in Big Bear Lake water
Matthew Brandt, courtesy of Yossi Milo Gallery, New York

print soaked in sylvan lake water

From the series “Lakes and Reservoirs.” Sylvan Lake, SD 5, 2012, Chromogenic print soaked in Sylvan Lake water.
Matthew Brandt, courtesy of Yossi Milo Gallery, New York

layers of cheez whiz on paper photo

From the series Taste Tests Cheez Wiz, 2009 Multi-layered Silkscreen Print with Cheez Whiz on Paper.
Matthew Brandt, courtesy of Yossi Milo Gallery, New York

bee emulsion on paper

Bees of Bees 3, 2012. From the series “Honeybees.” Gum Bichromate print with honeybees on paper.
Matthew Brandt, courtesy of Yossi Milo Gallery, New York

What do you think about Brandt’s work? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Patricia Ramos the author

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.

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