When photographer Matthew Brown was appointed as executive editor of East Tennessee State University’s newspaper, he started to notice details about the campus he’d previously overlooked. His series Orientation examines institutional environments and academic culture at the university, and seeks to rediscover forgotten interactions that go unnoticed everyday.
“My interest in the institution manifested itself when I photographed individual office spaces of faculty members, looking at their workspaces, keen to understand more about the person through how the space was arranged,” says Matthew. So often projects about school or university focus on the people within the building, so it’s interesting to see Matthew eschew the crowds and take it back to the structures and the imprint the staff and students have had on the spaces instead. Their impact in the vast, low-ceilinged rooms and corridors can be seen in the lurid colours painted on staircases, the pictures and notices hung on the walls and the way objects have been arranged on dusty shelves.
“As the project matured, it became much more about learning how these spaces were utilised and repurposed, along with how they were being interacted with by students and faculty,” explains Matthew. “My approach involved taking mundane and insignificant spaces and subjects and shaping them into something recognisable but peculiar.”
About the Author
Rebecca became staff writer at It’s Nice That in March 2016 before leaving the company at the end of 2017. Before joining the company full time she worked with us on a freelance basis many times, as well as stints at Macmillan Publishers, D&AD, Dazed and frieze.