From Certainty to Doubt
What we did
From Certainty to Doubt is a photo book for fine art photographer Mark Purdom. The brief was to create a publication that conceptually related to, and expanded the conversation around Mark’s field of inquiry, and the discourse of fine art photography. The photo book was to be a limited edition of 25 copies, it needed to be cost effective and have ‘something’ to stand shoulder to shoulder with case bound volumes with considerably bigger budgets and production values in this popular genre.
Mark’s work investigates mankind’s relationship with nature, specifically exploring strategies of camouflage, mimicry and deception. There are three different publications, each being a version of the same publication with variations around the sequencing and additional material—so it is unclear which is the ‘real’ version. This makes each publication meaningful in itself while setting up a conversation amongst all three, including ideas around final selections and editing of content. The covers of all three publications merge into each other when stacked, confirming the relationship of the three entities but also diffusing the boundaries between each, just as camouflage allows the bearer or object to recede into it’s context.
Typographically, the extreme cropping of the cover and title page text on the smaller volumes create confusion. Certainty is only restored on the larger format where we can finally read the full title. The type is set at the same scale for each publication—a provocation that in one format feels at ease, in another awkward—just as the British cell phone towers camouflaged as ‘trees’ feel unsettling in the landscape.
The smallest publication is printed in black and fluorescent stock. It brings into question ideas around black and white photography verses colour—is colour required to ‘see’ camouflage? The inquiry is occurring while the publication itself mimics a fluorescent camouflage vest. Does the lower, ‘pop’ values of the smaller, single colour booklet have anything less to say about the subject than it’s bigger, full colour brothers? The larger publications have the same chuckle that we all have about high visibility fluorescent camouflage wear, while ironically positioning one of Tommy Cooper’s quotes on the bright stock adjacent to an empty page.