Tycho Jones, an 18-year-old musical artist from Hackney, East London, has released a music video for his song, ‘Don’t Be Afraid.’ Typically, a music video wouldn’t be covered here on DPReview, but Jones’ video is unique. Jones’ record company, Globe Town Records, hired artist Edd Carr to make the video. Carr did something we’ve never seen before; he printed every single frame of video as cyanotype prints and then created the final music video by photographing the more than 5,000 cyanotype prints that he handmade.
Carr reached out to us to let us know about his video for Tycho Jones. Carr thinks it’s the first video ever made entirely from cyanotype prints. Edd Carr directed, edited, printed and animated the entire video himself. Carr’s video work, which you can see more of on his website and his Vimeo page, utilizes numerous analog and alternative methods and techniques.
As a bit of background on the cyanotype photographic printing process, it was first discovered by English scientist and astronomer Sir John Herschel in 1842. In the decades following Herschel’s work, the cyanotype printing process was primarily used by engineers to produce copies of drawings, known as ‘blueprints.’ Blueprints get their name from the cyan-blue print that results from the cyanotype process.
While the light-sensitive solution, which comprises potassium ferricyanide and ferric ammonium citrate, starts as a sort of yellowish-green liquid, it turns dark blue when exposed to sufficient ultraviolet light. It’s not a highly light-sensitive solution, so exposure times range from a few seconds up to 10-20 minutes on an overcast day.
A simple kind of cyanotype print is referred to as a photogram. You arrange objects, like pressed plants and flowers, on top of the paper that’s been coated with light sensitivity solution and then expose it to light. After washing off the liquid, you’ve got a cyanotype print. You can learn more about this method in the video below from Ekaterina Smirnova.
As you can see, the cyanotype process reverses light and dark, so to create cyanotype prints like the ones used by Edd Carr in the Tycho Jones music video, you must work with a negative original to create a final positive image. You can see some of these positive image cyanotype prints that Carr made for the video in the Instagram post below.
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The cyanotype process is quite flexible, and it can be scaled up to incredible sizes. For example, in 2017, Stefanos Tsakiris created a 276.64 square meter cyanotype in Thessaloniki, Greece. The print, which holds the world record for the largest cyanotype print, was made to help teach people about cyanotype photography and increase environmental awareness.
Last year, we covered a video from French photographer Mathieu Stern. In the video, seen below, Stern developed 120-year-old glass negatives that were found in a time capsule using the cyanotype process. It’s a very cool look into the past and fitting use of the cyanotype process.