Earlier in the year, we talked to photographer Edd Carr who showed us the meticulous process of making a video animation entirely out of cyanotype prints. The level of skill that went into this piece certainly didn't go unnoticed and, in this article, he talks to us about his recent opportunity to create a cyanotype video for DUST Magazine's editorial on British fashion icon Vivienne Westwood as part of their collection's themes of challenging climate crisis for this years London Fashion Week. Over to you Edd!
London Fashion Week takes place twice a year, where the biggest designers exhibit their upcoming collections to the world. Following my cyanotype-printed music video being exhibited on Piccadilly Circus as part of Dazed Circa 2021, I was contacted by DUST Magazine about covering one of the shows for London Fashion Week.
As my own practice focuses on the ecological crisis, sustainable photography, and climate change - I requested that I cover a designer with a robust sustainability policy. My contact at DUST immediately suggested Vivienne Westwood, as they have recently committed to a number of sustainability and climate commitments. Due to coronavirus, their fashion week presentation was screened online - meaning I was provided with the video and a press pack of stills featuring their Spring-Summer ‘22 collection. The theme of the collection is ‘S.O.S’, incorporating nautical themes with a commitment to sustainably produced clothing as a challenge to the climate crisis.
The video was imagined from the original Vivienne Westwood concept of S.O.S., extending this idea to marine life and the challenges they face during the ecological crisis. Aquatic life is affected by the ecological crisis in a variety of ways - from overfishing to marine pollution, and the rising temperature of seas. Westwood wanted the collection to exemplify our need for change to combat the crisis - and so I chose to incorporate a wealth of marine life to give them a voice in a space that they are normally excluded. Further to that, I edited the footage with a lot of match cutting, to create a symbiosis between the models, their clothing, and the marine life - in view of an ethic where humans and nonhumans are on equal footing.
Expanding on the brand’s commitment to sustainability, I hand-printed each frame using the cyanotype method - a famously low-toxic and sustainable photo technique. In total, I printed 440 frames of cyanotype for the video, at a speed of 12fps. To do so, I first did a digital edit of the footage, blending stock footage and the Vivienne Westwood show footage. I then split the footage into individual frames, and printed them as digital negatives. Following this, I printed the footage in the Northern Sustainable Darkroom, my non-profit darkroom facility.
When printing, I used two different paper types - cartridge paper, and tracing paper. The tracing paper creates an otherworldly effect, as the cyanotype doesn’t properly absorb. This sequence starts at the octopus scene, to give a sense of the alien that some marine life holds. Cyanotypes are developed using only water, which is often recommended being left running. To save water, I used a static wash - using two developing trays full of water, and agitating the prints in them as you would with traditional darkroom prints.
Following printing, I scanned the prints, and dropped them into Final Cut to create the animation. Jack Kennedy then did the sound design, using a variety of electronic techniques to compliment the themes of the piece. It is now part of DUST Magazine’s ‘On the Row’ editorial, showcasing the best of London Fashion Week. The video also exists as a living object in the world - as a pile of cyanotypes on my desk!
To see more of Edd's work visit his Instagram page.