Mark Roper is a photographer whose work is distinguished by a considered balance between intention and happenstance. Spanning myriad genres, each and every image he creates seems to harbour a suspended atmosphere. A resonance that lays upon its surface and serves to unite his work, no matter the subject or its usage. An underlying mood. An ambiance. Almost as though a shadow has passed across his lens, filtering gently into the details of sun-drenched natural landscapes and brightly lit studios. It is in these nuances that the coaxing thread of discovery lays which, when pulled, sends someone with Mark’s inquiring mind, down a rabbit hole of unrestrained experimentation.
Born in England, Mark has made Australia and its temperate climate his home. The ‘lone wolf’ nature of being a photographer enticed him from pursuing a career in the film industry. The fluidity and cessations of his latest fine art series — Orchestrated Kaleidoscopes — evoke a sense of motion that often evades photographic stills and resonates with the essence of moving film.
Ironically, it is the manipulation of film that has led to a new evolution on Mark’s previous fine art series ‘Arcane.’ A few years ago, exploring and manipulating old polaroids he had no further use for, Mark discovered a reaction when experimenting with the chemicals involved in the polarisation process. A reaction that turned the lumpy grey texture of the iodoquinine sulphate crystals that lie between the positive and negative sheets of the polaroid film, into something else entirely when photographed again. An exposure to light which, in a fairytale-esque outcome, turned the gnarly monotony into something of mystic fascination. The spontaneous, playful approach to indulging his medium became something new and intriguing. A topography of colour was revealed. One that is imbued with an unrestrained, unintentional sense of freedom in its accidental creation.
The act of revealing the in-between, the monotone rivulets and furrows of residual matter between the layers of polaroid film, established a curiosity. Documentation of the substance continued the notion of actions, reactions and consequence - the result is an orchestrated kaleidoscope. Large scale expressions of pure outcome finessed with a liquid resin - a final iteration of each original work. Exposed to just the right light at just the right time with just the right balance of chemicals. The uncontrived nature of their development evokes an exhalation. A full circle satisfaction in creating art for art’s sake.
Liquid Resin Pour close ups
In conversation with Mark Roper
Otomys Contemporary: Following the successful Arcane exhibition in our gallery in 2018, we asked you 'What’s next for Mark Roper?’ And you said, "Now that Arcane is complete I’m feeling inspired to complete a series using a mix of mediums, not just photography.” So, the concept of employing mixed medium has been simmering since then, and today you launch the dynamic exhibition: Orchestrated Kaleidoscope. Can you tell us about the progression of your work?
Mark Roper: With this current work I wanted to further explore the hidden colours in Polaroid film. I experimented with techniques of manipulation until I hit on one that began revealing more colour and tone in the base image, which was hidden beneath layers of colour. This produced an almost 3d effect. Extending my work beyond the realms of photography, I’ve then exaggerated these layers of colour with layers of liquid resin, to enhance the experience of this process and to draw the viewer deeper into the fictional landscapes.
Otomys Contemporary: Orchestrated Kaleidoscope is a masterful manipulation of light and chemical reactions on paper - an extraordinary concoction for a photographer! Equally complex and intriguing is the evocative and thought-provoking composition. If you were in such a ‘fictional landscape’ what music would you choose to accompany you?
Mark Roper: Easy..
Aphex Twin - Stone in Focus - Listen here!
Thom Yorke - Twist - Listen here!
Otomys Contemporary: What’s next from Mark Roper?
Mark Roper: I’m continuously expanding my art practice, which houses my commercial work too – I’m exploring photography and mixed media and hope to work on more larger scale work.
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Images courtesy of Mark Roper.
Mark Roper: Orchestrated Kaleidoscopes