Brown Owl Press newsletter

Brown Owl Press Dispatch #5: Andrew D. McClees/

Andrew D. McClees is a photographer and also runs His interviews are really well researched and in-depth, actual discussions rather than Q&As and his photographic process is engaged and fascinating. One of the good guys.

Introduce yourself! Who are you, where do you come from and what do you do?
My name is Andrew D. McClees, I am a photographer and DIY or ultra low budget publisher based in Maine (where I'm native) , after a long stint in Los Angeles (where I started My personal photographic work is loosely in the New Topographic canon - though is largely open to all types of photography that function as statements and commentaries on postmodern life - from portraiture, to landscape, to abstract. is both a zine publishing concern and a photography discussion platform. How do you feel these things combine? Are there any points you worry about the overlap?
Well, shooting you 100% straight, they don't. I just don't have the attention span to run a curation/community page, alongside a publisher page, alongside my own page - so pulls double duty there for community and publishing. I know it could theoretically be a conflict of interest to review other folk's zines, which is why I mainly stick to the loosely educational content alongside my interviews -- though, I think in DIY photography, we've got more to benefit by hyping each other up -- publisher and photographer -- rather than spending time thinking super critically about zines etc.

That said -- it comes together into an acceptable format because is mostly a place of learning, and growing on your own -- up until 2021, I was mostly (spare a couple high school photo courses) self taught, and self publishing was the natural extension to that particular path. I wanted to create a community around DIY photography -- both learning and teaching -- and the publishing fits in as I eventually realized other folks might need or want a helping hand putting their projects out there on a small, but careful, scale.

Adding to the previous question, how does this inform your own work?
I've actually stopped putting a lot of my own work out because I realized I needed to concentrate on honing my craft to the next level of finesse for the next phase of my career. I think the big thing has been getting to absorb the advice of, and talk to so many different photographers. Additionally, I'd say I've grown a healthy respect for just how important sequencing is in a Photobook or Zine.

You published CRUX but then remixed it to create XURC. This appeals to the techno listener in me, but what made you do this? Are they one body or work or two?
Ah, so Crux's main conceptual conceit is that it's about decision points, choices, and conflicting perspectives -- cruxes, if you will -- with an entire future ahead (given, I was not aware of my relative optimism at the time). XURC is about struggling to make choices and proceed after being hit with grief, mental illness and other maladies that make the ways out and through contained in Crux less of an option. I think of it as separate, but closely related. You don't need Crux to get XURC, but it's a neat context.

I used to be enamoured of lomography and lo-fi stuff, so that's where the multiple exposures started, but XURC starts to build on that, or remix it, by pushing new elements and overdubs or remixing an older concept (multiple exposures). I think the final project in that line, will hopefully be a reinvention of the tropes established so far.

To put it into a techno metaphor -- it's kinda like taking an older track, let's say a Hawtin/Plastikman tune (because it's a little dirty from the equipment, but mostly stripped back) then revisiting it a few years later and having like, Paula Temple or Helena Hauff revisit the same track but throw a ton of industrial skronk on it. the core riff or idea stays the same, but the perspective varies widely - I think the mutations of Clouds's "chained to a dead camel" into "chained to a dead channel" and beyond is probably another more recent touchstone. 

What is next in the pipeline for you and
Oh, I just did a product/shirt launch with JunK (@analog.junk) who's a fantastic illustrator/photographer and the shirt uses his illustration, and the zine included in the bundle focuses on the photography  - if folks are interested they can order their copies now at Outside of that, It's mostly a soft relaunch on/of -- then a zine with Justin W. Soto in October.

And launch my one year of free (or donation) zines in November. - Hopefully I can get some guest contributors for that.

Tell us about any artwork/music/podcasts/books you're enjoying at the moment.
I've been really immersing myself in ambient music or ambient dub - I really got into a Dominick Fernow project this year - Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement - there's hours of records in that particular project so that's become a good regular listen. I've also really been enjoying Solum by FrauFraulein - which is actually an internet friend (shoutout Billy Gomberg) and his partner's project - the right mix of uncomfortable but fascinating textures and movements. For photobooks - I'm really stoked for the reissue of Larry Sultan's Letters from Home. 

If you could interview anyone, who would it be?
Like, photography or not photography? Because if not photography, I'd be curious to talk to Hieronymus Bosch - HB is actually super, super poorly documented and i'd be really really fascinated to find out more about him and what his working process was like.

For photographers: I'd really love to talk to Harry Callahan - RIP - because he followed a similar non-traditional path, kept making crazily varied work, and managed to (to the best of my knowledge) be a pretty good all around person. Living, I'd be pretty stoked to finally get to actually just go sit with Robert Adams.

Do you feel hopeful for the rest of 2021?
Honestly? no. But I don't tend to think much of hope - there's only here, now, and what you can do. Like sure, I hope 2021 picks up -- at the same time, I don't see much changing; but I'm just gonna keep pushing forward in whatever manner I can, y'know?

Upcoming books
We have several books at various stages of production including the long awaited title by Jenny Riffle. It's coming, I promise! It'll be worth the wait. Other titles by Helen Bradshaw, Hans Nøstdahl and Andreas Olesen to follow. 

Still available
We recently published Oblivion I & II by Tyrone Williams and Blind by Al Palmer. Copies of all are still available. 

Thank you for reading. If you have any questions or opinions please don't hesitate to get in touch.


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