Carson Davis Brown
Carson Davis Brown is a photographer and artist from Michigan. His current show #_Mass is a collection of photographs from his series MASS SHOW, a site-specific intervention into America’s big box stores which seeks to disrupt the visual landscape of consumerism. In association with the 2015 Month of Photography LA and Lucie Foundation, #_Mass is exhibited at the Building Bridges Art Exchange in Santa Monica. See footage from his MASS SHOW on his website or Instagram.
Not much gives form to the archetype of American glut and consumerism more than its big box stores – the Walmarts and Targets along highways from coast to coast. Using these super-centers as his workshop for site specific installations, Carson Davis Brown reimagines the redundancy of mass-production and disrupts its quest for sameness. For his MASS SHOW, Brown visits a big box store and sources materials entirely from the its shelves, random except in color, arranging them into a monochromatic sculpture in one of the store’s aisles. With bright geometric layers piled as tall as shoppers – a mass of red or lime green or blue – these installations break the uniformity while creating their own patterns and lines. Shifting the visual landscape, Brown forces shoppers to reevaluate the purpose and necessity of the objects heaped on shelves all around them.
Photographing his temporary installation, he then develops his pictures at the superstore’s 1 Hour Photo center and inserts the prints into picture frames sold by the store, which customers can buy for the price marked on the frame. All without permission, and often without being noticed in the vast anonymous space of the store.
In collaboration with Lucie Foundation and Month of Photography Los Angeles, Brown’s exhibition of photographs from his MASS SHOWS, #_Mass, is showing at Building Bridges Art Exchange in Santa Monica. His MASS SHOW is also planned for superstore locations around LA, with an announcement of where and when released day-of via Instagram.
Where are you from?
Carson Davis Brown: Grand Rapids, Michigan.
When did you start making art?
CDB: Well, my first art course was an art-on-a-cart scenario at Dibble Elementary School.
Who influenced you growing up and who influences you today?
An avant-garde Austrian filmmaker (born 1958) known for “Outer Space” (1999) and “Dream Work” (2002). His work is comprised exclusively of found footage, which is then edited heavily on film using a darkroom rather than available technology.
An experimental Austrian filmmaker (born 1959) whose films are made from re-cut found footage. Chopping and layering samples of short clips into repetitive cycles, Arnold stretches seconds of film into intense and compelling narratives. He is known for “Alone. Life Wastes Andy Hardy” (1998) and “Pièce Touchée” (1989).
CDB: Growing up, I’d say legos and dinosaurs. Now there seems to be a lot more influences. I’ve been really into Peter Tscherkassky and Martin Arnold’s film work. The way they create tension is pretty amazing. I’m also a fan of Imi Knoebel, Sara Cwynar and Gabriel Shalom’s work.
How would you describe your style?
CDB: My style tends to be more graphic and grid oriented. I like when things are textural and have some sort of rhythm to them.
“It seems like there’s
rarely a decisive eureka moment,
but a lot more small moves.”
— Carson Davis Brown
How and when did you decide that this is what you were going to do?
CDB: It seems like it’s been a longer road getting to where I’m at now. I’ve done a lot of things that I thought I wanted to be doing, but once I was doing them, I realized it wasn’t exactly what I’d thought. So deciding what I’m going to do has been more of a process of small changes that get me closer to what I think I want. It seems like there’s rarely a decisive eureka moment, but a lot more small moves.
What’s your story of getting started as an artist?
CDB: I’ve always been conceptually and visually creative and have been (and still am) in various stages of honing different crafts. But I think my story of intentionally making art begins with the friends I’ve made through an artist residency I’m a part of, Cabin-Time. The people I’ve met through CT have supported and inspired my practice in ways I wouldn’t be able to do on my own. We joke that the CT network becomes your best-friend stranger family, and it’s true.
How does it feel to have accomplished this body of work? What was the process like?
CDB: It feels very good to be at this point with the project. There’s definitely more I’ll be doing with it and new phases that haven’t been shared yet. But at this point it feels good to have the work celebrated in this context. The process of making the work and showing it in a store environment can be pretty stressful. So to have the work in a gallery context – printed and framed well with time to appreciate everything – is pretty exciting.
What’s your favorite book, film and music right now?
A short film by director Alli Coates and performance artist Signe Pierce, documenting a social experiment in which Pierce walked through Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in stripper’s clothes and a reflective mask, raising questions about gender stereotypes, mob mentality and violence. It is available via YouTube.
CDB: Just saw Signe Pierce’s “American Reflexxx” doc. That was nuts, inspiring and sad at the same time. Also watched “Going Clear,” that Scientology doc with a buddy recently. Fascinating.
As far as music, I’m on Soundcloud quite a bit. Really into a lot of DJs and producers – Sango Beats, Team Supreme, Cashmere Cat, Katranada, L.I.E.S. records. Kind of a sucker for chopped and screwed mixes.
What are your interests and passions outside of your art?
CDB: Brunch. DJs. Eggs. I love sci-fi movies and films in general.
How do you feel about the rising creative scene in LA?
CDB: It seems like an exciting time to be an artist in this area.
What’s next for you?
CDB: About a year or so ago, I started making lists of things I want to do. Mostly ideas for projects. Some are interesting. Some are terrible. It’s a big list, so next I’d like to keep adding to and chipping away at it.