A New Nothing – Matthew Morrocco and Rachel Stern


Wavepool – How have you approached the idea of having an image-based conversation?

Matthew Morrocco – Communication is really about alleviating the feeling of loneliness.  It doesn’t matter what is being communicated as long as each communicator knows the other is paying attention.  My main concern is that my partner sees that I am paying attention to what she is putting forward.

Rachel Stern – My grandmother used to organize big groups of my siblings and cousins to play what she called Folding Papers, more commonly referred to as Exquisite Corpse. In this game the first player draws the top of something, lets say a head, and then folds the paper so that the next player only sees the implication of the preceding form. They then must use this as the jumping off point for their section of the drawing and so on. It builds. Though I respond to a fully revealed image in the conversation I am having with Matthew, it feels very similar. There is some formal element, an arm, the light, a symbol or color, that sparks a reference to some other work of my own. It’s very much like building. Placing something that fits onto the structure beside it. I’ve always love taking on assignments, trying to fit my agenda into whatever context I’m allowed, and this is exciting in that same way. I can’t know what my next post will be, but as it must be my own image the pool is predetermined. It’s great fun to look at Matthew’s photographs and find what essentially excites or grabs me within them and then turn to my own archives in search of that same thing.



Wavepool – If you were to compare your exchange to one that is spoken, how would you describe it?

Matthew Morrocco – The main difference is formal. In spoken language, rhetorical devices – diction, cadence, idioms – can be different but in visual language, the tropes need to be similar to be in conversation.  I look at Rachel’s work and respond with pictures that have similar tropes – a pose, a color, depth, lighting.  We are mostly using photographs that are already made, so it’s about locating common aesthetic principles.

Rachel Stern – The conversation that Matthew and I are having, very much like the ones we have in real life, takes the form of passionate banter – a war of wits. Something that is so striking about our work is the way in which our deep connections to the same art historical moments take such apparently different forms in our respective practices.  We are both dramatic, both serious, both focused on the wildly indulgent experience of being human and because of this we build off of and strike back at each other with deft and earnest retorts. When we speak about photography, art, and life together we speak as if everything is at stake because, in fact, it is.



Wavepool – What have you taken away from the process?

Matthew Morrocco – Peers are the most important influences.

Rachel Stern – I’ve learned a lot about photography from looking at Matthew’s work. He’s a very complicated image maker and uses the format of the photograph in such striking and insightful ways. Responding to his images and looking at the conversations underway between the other photographers on A New Nothing is a reminder of the vast potential of photography. I’m always amazed by what other people see and how they see it. This particular format is such a crazy nexus of sight lines colliding and ricocheting off of one another. I leave the site always wondering what I’m not seeing in the world, or more specifically, what someone else might see were they to stand in my place.


To see more, please visit A New Nothing.