While his name conjures images of some crime fighting alpha male, Cash Mattock’s photography is a lot more refined.
At heart he will profess to music being his ‘first love’ but in his photography there is a clear passion. Inspired by surrealism, Cash Mattock (an author and musician) brings conceptual ideas to life through technical manipulation. Fusing images, his cathartic pieces consider diverse themes from the abhorrent treatment of Native Americans through to freedom of the mind from a society that shackles creativity.
Tell us about your creative journey because we are aware you are also a musician?
I’ve always used art to interpret the world and filter my life experiences. At an early age I discovered that it gave me a sense of euphoria which I desperately needed at that time because I was abused as a child. I enjoyed the creative process so much and it became the only way I could fully express my feelings. As I matured I recognized that the energy that fuelled my inspiration didn’t only come from within me. I became aware that there is a global emotional energy that I am hypersensitive to. I believe that all artists have a higher sensitivity to these collective emotional climates, but the awareness of this influence varies.
And how does that ‘sensitivity’ work in terms of the creative process?
This sensitivity is part of what drives us to be creative. I believe this energy affects everyone in different ways. Being sensitive and partially aware of this energy is where the bulk of my inspiration comes from. At times I used to think it was a curse but after many years of experience and study I gained a deeper understanding of the universe. My book reflects on this combined knowledge. Nikola Tesla once said, “My brain is only a receiver, in the Universe there is a core from which we obtain knowledge, strength and inspiration. I have not penetrated into the secrets of this core, but I know it exists.”
I have always loved Dali and the surrealist movement.
Is there a natural synergy between your music and the images you create?
I sometimes think of myself as a purveyor of waves. I release my creative energy through my artwork as sound and light waves, but music is my first love. I don’t need anything but my body to make music. It’s created from nothing and if it isn’t captured it’s gone. The artist commands the moment. I think about all my art in the same way. When someone experiences my art, I want it to feel like we’re part of one thing or that we’re literally sharing the experience together.
There is evidently a technical aspect to your work which is more than just photography-explain that more.
I’ve compiled a library of hundreds of stock photos that I use for my pieces. I’m constantly adding and deleting photos depending on the need, but I try not to use the same photo twice. Each image I add to library speaks to me in some way. Most of my pieces are composed of only two images. When I feel inspired I glance through my library and I find a few images that strike a chord based on what I’m feeling at the time. Then I digitally fuse them together using various techniques and filters. The editing takes the longest. Each image requires a minimum of three stages, but some images require ten or more. I work in batches of four to six images. I edit each one a little at a time over many days. This keeps the process fresh.
Who or what are your biggest inspirations (surrealism seems evident) and indeed how do these inspirations from yesteryear feed into the work you subsequently?
I have always loved Dali and the surrealist movement. My biggest influences however are Antonio Mora, Matt Wisniewski and Jerry Uelsmann. In terms of my work. I pay attention to how art guides the eye. There’s an initial reaction which must be strong, but the interesting part is drawing a person into the piece where they take in the detail. Your eyes tour the image as thoughts and feeling emerge. Dali was a master of alluring the observer into his world. The delight of surrealism is that it creates its own visually realistic alternate reality that touches parts of our minds that we forget about in our day to day. My work is simpler, but the underlying concept is the same.
The internet exposes us to a world full of ideas
Talk about the themes in your work there seems to be a distinct theme regarding people and the mind?
I feel that there’s a small chance that I can help the world through my art. That’s my drive and my passion. What I generally see is that the world needs to wake up. There’s a popular quote from my book that says it best… “The human race needs a renaissance of global proportions in order to survive the current state of the world. I want to be part of the renaissance… What are you going to do?” When I create my portrait collages I’m revealing a human connection to something. This connection could be negative or positive and it could be established or suggestive.
Freedom of the mind and creative expression seems another strong theme-in this world currently do you think our creative streams are shackled?
The internet exposes us to a world full of ideas. This is both positive and negative. Good ideas and creative expression can get lost in the menagerie. Negative ideas or harmful memes can be amplified and spread. This can be a frustrating and discouraging environment for creative people. I also think that the socio-economic classes of art and entertainment industry have become more polarized which leaves less room for original or independent expression. It floods, the “creative streams” with pseudo-popularized ideas that are basically manufactured by a need to make money. The industry feeds these ideas to younger generations to reinforce their agenda and thereby poisoning the creativity pool.
The image of the Native American is provocative and profound.
I created the image around the beginning of the Standing Rock protests. Aside from this being one of many environmental atrocities made by the oil industry this was also a shameful blow to the Native American people. Their doctrine and ideology regarding our environment should be given the utmost respect. Industry and government however choose to ignore them. In this image I wanted to show the Native American spiritual connection to the earth, but I also wanted to highlight their significance as the caretakers of this continent. Native Americans believe in the concept of Animism. Animism is the belief that every natural thing in the universe has a soul. Imagine a world where everyone treated the environment with this level of respect.
Loss features in your work but loss is not always negative-is it?
I have expressed my own personal loss in my work, but I often express a sense of mourning for what’s wrong with the world. Sometimes destruction is necessary for growth, but mankind twists this idea. We are facing the destruction of our moral compass by a deliberate attempt to cloud our view of reality by glorifying our war with nature and our wars with each other. We blur the line between the natural and unnatural. We imply and overtly state that we couldn’t possibly have any major impact on our environment at all.
There’s a period in your work where you fuse individuals from past years with your imagery-can you discuss that more?
I created a series of images specifically for my book. I wanted this series to look like nothing else I’ve ever done. I was inspired by books like Codex Seraphinusn (1981) and the Voynich Manuscript. This series doesn’t directly have anything to do with the contents of the book. My intention was to lead the reader in to a surreal imaginative state. This is how I wanted to set the stage for my disquisition. I will never sell prints from this series. They are only intended for the book.
Architecture which features is a powerful creative medium shaping the way people think, feel and act.
Architecture absolutely fascinates me. Great and unique architecture stands the test of time. Cultures and people have been immortalized by architecture. The earliest examples we have discovered are approximately 12,000 old. The purpose of these structures varies but they all are meant to evoke emotions. As we look at these structures over time they tell us something about ourselves that has become an essential part of the human psyche.