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What Do You See In These Dayglo Rorschach Tests?

Have you ever been captivated by the sight of milk dissolving into black coffee? Mark Mawson has, and he’s spent the last six years attempting to recreate the mesmerizing sight using ink, water, and high-speed photography.

The U.K.-based commercial photographer creates his photos by dripping acrylic paint into a fish tank full of water. Using a macro lens, he captures the ink before it’s fully dissolved into the water. His first ink photos, called Aqueous, went viral in 2010 (the photographs were even projected onto the facade of Buckingham Palace as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee!), as did a similar series called Aqueous Floreau in 2011.

Last month the photographer released a third installation, Aqueous Electro, named for the blinding neon colors Mawson used to create it. The self-proclaimed Caravaggio enthusiast tells Co.Design that Electro is far more ethereal than his past work. “The images resemble and evoke the feeling of ectoplasm, ghosts, and spirit photography,” he explains, referring to the Ghostbusters-style residue that spirits are said to leave behind. Everyone sees something different in Electro’s dayglo blooms: jellyfish, mushroom clouds, or even mold are common comparisons. In that sense, the images are a bit like psychedelic Rorschach tests.

Mawson says he was inseparable from his camera, even as a kid. He studied photography in school, and went on to become a successful photojournalist for a number of national newspapers in England. “I got a bit bored with that, because it wasn’t really all that creative,” he said in a 2011 interview. Since striking out on his own, he’s become an expert in underwater photography–his fashion editorials, in particular, are great fun. You can check them out over on Mark’s website.

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