Mark Perham is a photographer based in Cornwall. He is interested in the veracity of the photograph- how it can inform and educate whilst at the same time mislead. Mark won the South West Graduate Photography Prize in 2012, and completed his Masters of Fine Art at Falmouth in 2016.
As a photographer from Cornwall, I have always been drawn to the water. And I have been especially drawn to the River Avon that wends its way through Bristol because it was here, when I was a young boy, that my grandfather would spend countless hours teaching me how to fish, which I would re-pay by feeding our lunch to the swans.
My initial plan was to immerse my waterproof 35mm camera within a transparent bag that was filled with water that I had scooped up out of the Avon, and then to make some work along the river bank, shooting through the silt and river-life within. Sadly this experiment failed at the first hurdle when the images that I made were too affected by the bag. The second experiment involved degrading the negatives with the river water. This also ended with less than satisfactory results. So I moved on to experiment number three and another idea that had been forming.
The C Type print comprises of three layers of dye- yellow, cyan and magenta- with a light sensitive emulsion. I set about immersing my 20 C Type prints in the river water I had collected. The water resembled a soup- of flower petals, dead insects, grasses and gunk that contained more than a hint of the 200 years of heavy industrial history the river has witnessed and helped shape.
Over a period of a month the separate colour layers began to split and degrade as the bacteria seeped into them creating an uncontrollable and unique outcome with each image. Some appear scratched, others have faded out of existence, and some have been scorched as if by an Act of God. As they have dried some carry bits of river debris and each one of them has taken on the deceptively gentle ripple of the water.
My Sisyphean-like journey had revealed the value not just in the uniqueness and irreproducible quality of each print, but also the value of allowing ourselves the space in which to fail, and to succeed through losing control.
Three of the immersion prints are shown here. You the audience member are invited to join me in the joys of losing control. The other prints are available for sale, but sold unseen in sealed envelopes. Take your pick. If you dare