2012 is not an auspicious year. The Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world, Nostradamus preaches imminent apocalypse, global markets crumble, headlines scream, nations hold their breath, teetering perilously on the abyss of economic collapse. And in reaction to this maelstrom of panic, the art world has turned to the past, taking sanctuary in retrospectives of Lucian Freud, Picasso, and David Hockney, arguably reassuring reminders of happier times.
However, photographer Thomas Brown, fresh from creating dancing diagrams out of Repetto ballet pumps for AnOther's Object of Desire, has taken a different approach to this atmosphere of overwrought fervour. His latest series of images, entitled Meteor, shows mysterious violent forms that on closer inspection turn out to be nothing but scrunched up paper. These floating meteor shapes may appear menacing, yet they are in fact weightless, easily deflected, far less terrifying than they may first appear; their threatening power manufactured from the expectations we carry in our own minds. Finding reassurance in his beautiful images, here AnOther discusses Brown’s projects past and present, as well as dream subjects for the future.
What inspired this series of works?
Strangely a simple image of someone holding a poster, the poster was big and it had a beautiful white rock against a black background – and I immediately saw a scrunched ball of paper. It's weird how the brain plays tricks. Of course a paper ball is fairly benign, but if you consider the act of making it... it's very destructive and sometimes quite violent, you want to destroy whatever it is you have tried to draw or write, because you just can't get it to be the way you want. I liked this juxtaposition – it seemed to resonate, the frustration over something beyond our control.
"Photography teaches me not to take things for granted"
How does it fit with your style?
I am constantly looking or reacting to things that amuse me. I like to mock paranoia or scare-mongering because it can be so very dangerous. My style in general has a calmness to it, I would like to slow everything down a bit, allow careful analysis, but on the whole I also want to make something feel special and beautiful, especially if it is generally disregarded.
What does photography teach you?
Not to take things for granted.
Your work is so ordered, precise, so stunningly linear. Do you aim for that, is it a central tenet of your work, and if not, do you think your photography has an overarching style or message?
I definitely always aim to make sense of what I looking at through the camera, whether that by simplifying the contents of the frame or creating a flow through the image. I'm a sucker for a grid. If it does have a overarching message, I haven't quite worked out what it is yet, but hopefully people can engage with it on their own level.
What is the most beautiful thing you've ever photographed?
The desert. The Alps.
What would be your dream project?
Something on the moon would be cool. Maybe making a massive mirror so we could see what the earth looked like from space... that would be something we could all enjoy.
Text by Tish Wrigley