In two new bodies of work Stepping Stone Falls and Bridges over Flint, Brandt pivots away from the natural world of bees, trees, lakes and reservoirs that comprised both the materials and subjects of his previous series, towards the built environments of Flint, Michigan. Having visited and worked in Flint shortly after its water crisis was uncovered, the artist was struck by the contrast of the solid, Brutalist architecture of Flint’s dam at Stepping Stone Falls, a manufactured waterfall, with the natural flow of the river running through it. After photographing the Falls, Brandt color-separated the large-scale photographs onto three individual Duraclear sheets and placed them in a pump system with the collected Flint River water continuously flowing over each, wearing away the images and creating fluid patterns of erosion. After several weeks, the artist reassembled the cyan, magenta and yellow layers in an LED light box typically used for retail display signage or commercial advertisements. Each is a depiction of the original scene of moving water, partially created by moving water, continuing the artist’s interest in fusing a photograph's subject with its medium.
River and Sky will also include Bridges over Flint, a collection of 24 gelatin silver prints depicting the city’s multiple bridges by which the Flint River is traversed and bypassed. The 8” x 10” photographs are developed with the water drawn through household taps in Flint, along with lead and other contaminants that pervade the city's water supply. The unknown and varied effects of these impurities on the prints mirror the uncertainty the water represents to the residents. Depending on the length of submersion and ingredients such as Vitamin C, bleach or red wine added by Brandt to the water, the prints are graded in tone and installed in order from light to dark.
In contrast to the specific location of Flint, Michigan, the exhibition broadens in scope to the dimensions of the universe. In the series Night Skies, the artist compresses the expanses of cosmic space into the sphere of human activity by recreating photographs of distant galaxies with the unconventional materials of cocaine on black photographer’s velvet. Addressing the far- reaching history of astronomic illustration, and suggestive of the perceptual distortions necessary to comprehend the vastness of the universe, Night Skies presents a material exploration of the boundaries between what is observed and what is imagined. Each circular piece is named for the astronomical body depicted according to its number in the New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars (NGC), an attempt begun in the 19th-century to organize infinity and understand the unknown.