Off the Clock 2023 Best of Show Winner: Brandon Ralph

Fri 14th Jul, 2023

Posted by Polly Gaillard

©Brandon Ralph, 2023 Off the Clock Best of Show winning image

Can you talk about the idea behind your Moon Landing project – where did the idea originate, and how is it executed technically?

The inspiration for the Moon Landing started during the Covid Lock Down in 2020 when the world almost stood still. With every passing of the lunar cycle, ~8 billion people watched the moon rise and fall. What started as a two-week lockdown grew into months and got me thinking about the notion of time and what, how, and with whom we spend our time. I set out to create a surreal image that made the viewer stop to think and laugh. "It's a Balloon, not a Moon." Technically I found this ~4-meter balloon with the moon printed on it. I then illuminated it from the inside, which gave it a glowing effect. I hung the moon and played with the horizon line just enough to make it feel uncomfortable, reminding the viewer that although time is infinite, our time here is not.

©Brandon Ralph,

Is this an ongoing series? How do you see the work evolving?

Moon Landing is not an ongoing series. I think there was something special about shooting this during Covid. From an evolutionary standpoint, I have been working with Terry LaRue, a fellow Leica photographer, on producing Platinum Prints to bring an analog warmth to the project.

Can you tell us about your other personal projects, particularly your book The American Experiment?

There is the rebirth of a City, which uses the female form amongst the ever-changing NYC Skyline, using these relic Water Towers as the constant that initially gave life to the city.

Although The American Experiment started as a photographic series, it became a book. The idea of The American Experiment has become the central thesis allowing me to play in photography, poetry, sculpture, and collage to express the ideals of the American flag, arguably the most recognizable symbol globally.

©Brandon Ralph, Image from The American Experiment

When was it published, and how many years of photographs are included? Is it an ongoing series?

The American Experiment was published in July 2021, covering over 14 years of photographs across the United States. I am currently working on the second book, which will most likely come out in 2031, as I wanted to give myself roughly ten years for the country and myself to have the space and breathing room to reflect the change.

I can't help but be reminded of Robert Frank's The Americans when looking at the imagery. How much did Frank's work influence you?

It would be impossible to deny that his work has not influenced my work. I was always inspired by how Roberts' images were very complex thematically and didn't really reveal themselves right away.

©Brandon Ralph, Image from The American Experiment

How is The American Experiment different than The Americans? Should it be viewed as an homage to Robert Frank?

There have been many artists that have photographed America and the American flag. Robert Franks, The Americans, set out to focus on a very different story of America that was being told at that time.

With, The American Experiment, I wanted to use the image and ideals of the American flag that makes The United States the most diverse country, attracting cultures from around the world at a time of what makes someone an American, a topic of heated debate.

©Brandon Ralph, Image from The American Experiment

Your images from the project appear as if they may have been made in the 1950s or 60s – are you using film? Why is the vintage look important to the project?

As an artist, I wanted to shoot in a way that visually continued the conversations of artists before me – to make the viewer think and reflect on how much has or has not changed or progressed.

I do not shoot with film but shoot with a Leica Monochrome.

What do you want the viewer to take away from The American Experiment? What does it mean to you?

I want people to believe in the idea of America, not for what America is today but for what it can be in the future. America ultimately is an Experiment that is in a constant state of change. Looking at the years may feel tough and slow, but you will hopefully see progress when you look at the decades and centuries.

The American Experiment - see more

Brandon Ralph grew up on Long Island, NY, where he was raised on welfare in a middle-class neighborhood by a single mother who insisted he see America as a place of opportunity and possibility. After losing both parents at 18 & 19 years old, Brandon was forced to drop out of NYU and began a career in marketing; shortly after that, he coFounded Code and Theory in 2001, which has become one of the largest creative agencies. This juxtaposition of his upbringing, which included personal loss and professional development, profoundly informs his work as a contemporary artist who uses photography and sculpture to examine life and the notion of time, cultural coexistence, and the ever-changing urban landscape.
 

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