Many Houstonians got their first look at David A. Brown's "trying to find my way ..." photographic series at the Darke Gallery four years ago as part of FotoFest 2010. His "New Works by David A. Brown: trying to find my way ..." exhibit, just opened at the Jung Educational Center, an official FotoFest 2014 participating space, continues his exploration of reflected images with two important differences: composition and medium.
Brown captures a multitude of images, all simultaneously seen in the same space, in each photograph. The windows of an office building lobby, for example, become a canvas for dozens of reflections, all layered over one another. This isn't trick photography; Brown captures each image with a single exposure.
Most of the images seen at the 2010 exhibit were landscapes and still lifes. The current exhibit at the Jung Center includes a fair number of still lifes, but many more photographs show the reflected images of people as they walk down the street or look in a store window. (One shows a fellow photographer adjusting his camera settings between shots.)
The 2010 photographs were printed with a 3-D-like effect. (Brown had to work with a company overseas in order to achieve the desired quality.) The images seen at the "New Works" exhibit are printed, sans the effect, on fabric and 99+ year archival paper.
"Things have changed over the last couple of years," he told us at the exhibit's opening. "I'm looking more at interaction now. Before I was looking at composition and now I'm more focused on capturing the interaction between people with other people, with the space."
"The original work was an only Houston portfolio. Since then I've done London, Paris, New York, LA., Nashville. I went to portfolio reviews in Houston and Paris and got lots of good feedback. One thing I heard people say was that the images were strong enough on their own and didn't need the [3D] technology. The work became a little gimmicky with that effect."
While he's made some changes in the series, Brown says the central idea is the same. "The idea that I'm trying to talk about is universality, how we're all the same," he says. "Everybody has the option to take a moment to stop and look at what's around them. If I'm in a business center and I'm surrounded by glass, I'm [seeing] all these different [reflections] that are happening at the exact same time. People don't normally do that; they look for the door of the office they're going to...and that's all they see. But there are reflections of all sorts of other images there, too.
"All I've done is I've found areas of reflected and refracted images. If you look at a reflection, it makes things backwards, but it's pretty true perspectively. Sometimes the light goes through the glass, then it becomes refracted and two things happen. The photons degrade and then shift. The refracted light starts to degenerate. When I'm in a business center where you have all this glass, I'm capturing nine or ten realities all happening at the same time. They've been bouncing down the street through all this glass."
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Brown hung some of his new photographs unframed. "It's [on] free-floating fabric; it's not framed so as people walk by there will be movement. It lends to the fragility of the moment [the photograph captures]. I'm excited about that.
"I've lived out one of my fantasies at this exhibit. I took one image, broke it down into four images and printed it on [roll-up] banners. I've put one image in each corner. (See right.) They look really wonderful individually, but if you put them together it becomes a 70 x 180 inch photograph which is totally ridiculous. It's fine commercial art. You want to look at it? Put it up. You want to put it away? Roll it up. You want to put it outside on your patio? Go ahead, it's water resistant!" he laughs.
Named Best Photographer in the 2010 Houston Press Best Of Awards, Brown says the Jung Center of Houston is the perfect venue for his show. "Jungian analysis speaks to that [same idea]. We project what we want to see. It's all there, but it's like it's too much information to process at once, so we just focus on one thing. The rest of it's still there; we just aren't seeing it."
Regular viewing hours for "New Works by David A. Brown: trying to find my way ..." are 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Through March 28. The Jung Center of Houston, 5200 Montrose. For information, call 713‑524‑8253 or visit junghouston.org. Free.