Cyanotype—which is also named as ‘Blue Print’—was first invented as a photographic medium back in the mid-19th century by Sir John Herschel, an important British mathematician, astronomer, chemist, and photographer. Although the process possesses the abilities to reproduce a full range of tones, which a photographic medium needed, and is a relatively inexpensive and simple process compared to the other photographic processes available then, its distinct Prussian Blue colour did not manage to grow into a mainstream photography scene at the time.
However, engineers and architects soon flocked to make use of the contact-printing process to reproduce technical drawings for their trade in the 1890s up till the1940s. Cyanotype was innovatively being applied in academia, especially the scientific circle, by British botanist Anna Atkins, who published a book named ‘Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions’ in October 1843, consisting of cyanotype photograms. The book was considered a landmark in both the fields of publishing and photography, as it was all done in unique photograms of algae in a book form.
After more than 170 years, through promoting cyanotype as an artistic medium for a few years, Hong Kong Open Printshop (HKOP) realises that the potential of this photographic printing process can be developed into a more impactful community art medium to engage and arouse the interest of the participants. Since the late 2000s, HKOP has experimented and explored with different community art workshops that feature cyanotype.
This illustrated talk will share with the audience these experiences: creating a gigantic 100-person operation in an outdoor amphitheatre, using the auto parts as subjects in a garage-surrounded neighbourhood, and engaging foreign participants in an international cultural exchange workshop at the Echigo-Tsumari Art Field in Niigata, Japan.