Luke Evans is part of a rare, mercurial breed that we all like to think we discover regularly, but in fact are truly few and far between. We were deep into production of the second issue of Intern when Cai, one of our design team mentioned a young photographer who he was in contact with about purchasing a print for his soon-to-be new flat. The image, from Luke’s series ‘Xero’ was beautiful and mysterious in equal measure.
It didn’t immediately strike me as a photograph, its composition leaning towards that of a painting. The abstraction, it transpired, was the product of Luke reverse-engineering a photocopier’s xerographic process. By introducing a 400,000 volt charge to a piece of paper (via a home-made device no less) and then dusting the paper with toner powder, the unique disruptions to the electrical field were captured each time.
The more I delved into Luke’s work, the more apparent his scientific approach to many of his projects became. It came as little surprise when I later learned that he almost studied physics at university, rather than the course in Graphics & Photography at Kingston that he graduated from last year.
Luke is a perfectionist and that plays a huge role in his work, the images are flawless, often to the point where they present you with an immediate puzzle as to their creation. A prime example of this is his series ‘Forge’, which we featured in our second issue. On first sight, the photographs appear to be a series of ethereal landscapes. Some look positively lunar, others see waves crashing against rock. Each image though, was created on Luke’s kitchen table, with household items and a dizzying amount of guile and perseverance.
The scale and depth of the ‘Forge’ images is key to the illusion and Luke achieved this by using forced perspective and a tilt-shift lens to bring his micro-sculpture project to life. As if his poor mother didn’t have enough to worry about with him raiding the kitchen supplies, she will have spent an anxious few days on another of his uni projects ‘Inside Out’ when he swallowed 35mm film.
Avoiding life-threatening internal injuries, Luke and collaborator Josh Lake, recovered the digested film, cleaned and fixed it before scanning it under an electron microscope to reveal the changes their bodies had made to the film’s emulsion surface. The results are stunning. Both ‘Inside Out’ and ‘Forge’ were bought by the Saatchi Gallery, a feat few can say of two of their university projects.
When it came to the cover of our third issue we were faced with a new challenge. This was our first themed issue - Education - and as such, the first time we’d approached a cover conceptually rather than incidentally. Upon that decision I knew that Luke was the person I wanted on the job. The prospect of commissioning him and letting his mind go to work on the idea was too good to pass up on and I was not disappointed.
His interpretation of education as a crash mat, a soft landing, but at the same time something that you can feel swamped in says so much yet is such a clean, simple and striking image. What I love about it is that every time I ask a reader to tell me what they think it means, I get a different, yet always meaningful and interesting answer. That, I believe is a testament to Luke’s quite incredible mind and mastery of his craft.
In all my time working on Intern, there has rarely been a surer thing that Luke’s future success. Knowing that he’s over in Herefordshire, scheming another mind-bending project makes me very happy indeed. He’s a joy to work with, humble, enigmatic and one of the most exciting young photographers you’re likely to come across any time soon.