Creating a Cyanotype Video for London Fashion Week

London Fashion Week takes place twice a year and is an event in which 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 SOS, extending this idea to marine life and the challenges they face during the ecological crisis. Further to that, the footage is edited 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, which has a framerate 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.

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!

About the author: Edd Carr is an independent filmmaker and artist based in the UK specializing in analog/alternative production methods. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Carr is the co-founder of SCREW Gallery and the project lead of Northern Sustainable Darkroom in Leeds. You can find more of Carr’s work on his Vimeo, and Instagram.