Adam Ianniello


Michael Corridore

Artist Feature

Every week an artist is featured whose single image was published by Der Greif. The Feature shows the image in the original context of the series.

Matthew Shain - Singularities

Feb 17, 2021

This is a photo I normally wouldn’t release from the confines of my studio because I consider it a stand-alone study. As I was searching for new subject matter, I passed this shop window. The complete disarray caught my eye as an accumulation of related objects that had at one point been useful but were now surplus junk. That they were still on display as if caught in some capitalist time loop intrigued me. And the fact that this was a windows-and-doors shop created an opportunity to explore some formal and conceptual doubling – frames within frames, compositions within compositions.


Although this exercise hasn’t prompted me to further explore the theme of Capitalism and its relationship to surplus, I do value the study for what it adds to my art practice. It exemplifies some of the ways I think about photography, formally, conceptually, and narratively. Sharing it here has also forced me to reconsider the study as a methodology and how it relates to my art practice.


While I do create bodies of work with defined conceptual, narrative, and technical boundaries, I have always worked simultaneously and tangentially with singular photographs, and if I’m being perfectly honest, they have nearly always vexed me. How do they fit with the rest of my work? Do they fit together with each other? Since they aren’t project related, what goal do I edit them toward? Is their apparent randomness meaningful? Can I create meaning or narrative between them? The questions go on and on like a distant horizon.


I refer to these photographs as Singularities, each of them as points in a constellation, nodes that can be accessed from a multitude of directions. They can be given meaning either as stand-alone works, fixed pairings or through sequencing. Oddly, though, I’d never thought of them as studies. Perhaps I thought of a “study” as an appendix to a larger project, something incomplete and not necessarily stand-alone out of the studio except to illuminate the working process of the artist. Or maybe I just never really considered it. Either way, I now appreciate that value of this methodology.


I hope never to be so rote and lazy as to start a sentence with “Merriam & Webster defines…” but I do really want to share with you the dictionary definition of study because when I read it, I honestly get excited. It is exactly what I want my practice to be and how I wish for my work to be seen.


study noun

\ ˈstə-dē  \

plural studies


Definition of study (Entry 1 of 2)



: a state of contemplation: REVERIE



a: application of the mental faculties to the acquisition of knowledge 

b: such application in a particular field or to a specific subject 

c: careful or extended consideration 

d (1): a careful examination or analysis of a phenomenon, development, or question

   (2): the published report of such a study


: a building or room devoted to study or literary pursuits






a: a branch or department of learning: SUBJECT —often used in plural

b: the activity or work of a student

c: an object of study or deliberation 

d: something attracting close attention or examination


: a person who learns or memorizes something (such as a part in a play) —usually used with a qualifying adjective



: a literary or artistic production intended as a preliminary outline, an experimental interpretation, or an exploratory analysis of specific features or characteristics



: a musical composition for the practice of a point of technique


study verb

studied; studying


Definition of study (Entry 2 of 2)


intransitive verb



a: to engage in study

b: to undertake formal study of a subject







transitive verb



: to read in detail especially with the intention of learning



: to engage in the study of 






: to consider attentively or in detail 


A photographic study may lead to a larger project, but I accept that it may not and that the singular image may exist as part of my output all the same. Every couple of years I cull a new group of them and try to edit them into a portfolio. The above images are one iteration of just such an attempt.