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 Jack Perno  (20/21st century)

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     Known for: fine art and commercial photography

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Biography from Wiford Gallery:
Jack Perno received his Bachelor of Fine Art from Kansas City Art Institute and then spent many years as a professional commercial photographer.  After a long career, he turned his attentions and focus to fine art photography.  In 2004 he won the 5th International Polaroid Competition.

In the last few years he has worked with emulsion lifts using an 8x10 Sinar Polaroid Camera.

Instead of shooting on negative stock and then projecting the image onto the sheet of the Polaroid film, Perno plays on the artistic edge of by shooting directly onto 10 X 8 sheets of Polaroid, trying several shots until he gets the right one ready for an emulsion lift.  Emulsion lifting is a process performed by scalding the emulsion from its backing and transferring it to an alternate substrate of 300lb. Fabriano soft press watercolor paper.  Only one original is created with 2-3 prints constructed from each theme.

He focuses on content before technique.  Rather than select a shot from a collection of acquired shots, Perno has the idea develop first and then shoots specifically in order to release the concept he has imagined. Perno uses an underlying theme of beauty encrypted into the portraits combined with an absence of comfortable realism. By structuring ideas and creating imagined or mythical creatures, people, or story lines, his material can provide multiple interpretations.

Perno strives for natural processes in his work.  Rather than manipulate the emulsion lift once it has come from the water, he uses the water to flow in the direction it needs in order to direct the outcome.  This emulsion lift technique has no guarantees that what is conceived in the mind will be achieved on the photographed sheet.  It may take a few minutes for the desired effect to appear, or it may take several hours and photos later.

Once he does have the artistic effect he wants, the photograph takes days to dry on absorbent paper.  Three to four days later, the paper gently draws out the moisture resulting in the final image.

Jack Perno is so connected to his own work that he is hesitant to let them go. "I do put a price on them," he says, "and they are a bit expensive because only one of each exists." Perno's concern is valid about the peel apart large format film that he embraces. It will unfortunately follow in the footsteps of other lost art forms. Polaroid will cease making the film in 2008 for this type of photography process. Meanwhile, Perno uses his time and resources available to create these works of art.

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