The cyanotype process, announced by Sir John Hirschel in 1842, is one of the simplest analogue photographic processes. Whilst it was never embraced seriously as a mainstream means of printmaking, its ease and relative inexpense made it a cost effective and accurate means to reproduce documents, particularly larger technical drawings – i.e. “blueprints”. In this small series, I wanted to take images that were ubiquitous within news media of their time and depict moments that were orchestrated for their visual effect, either to intimidate the maker’s enemies or to humiliate their subjects.
I found the use of the cyanotype – as the first ‘photo-copying’ device – to be an appropriate way to engage with these now iconic images that were so prominent across much more technically sophisticated platforms. There is also an aesthetic resonance between these hand-crafted one-off images, textured by brushstrokes and the disruptions resulting from the surface of watercolour paper, and the degraded, pixilated, ephemerality of the news images that they appropriate.