Investigating the life of things across space and time

Blueprints

Submerging fact into speculation through the elemental process of cyanotype.

Cyanotypes; 50cm x 70cm
by Sarah Gillett

Arm (2015)
cyanotype; 50cm x 70cm

The way we live in the world is often a far cry from the empirical knowledge held in reference books. As time passes, the truth is being continually updated, revised, recoded and relearnt.

Boundaries shift and perspectives change – in science, in geography, in society, in language. Encyclopaedias, dictionaries, atlases, medical journals,  history books and pages on the internet become obsolete.

This series transforms fact into speculation through the elemental process of cyanotype. As though ripped from an oversized guide to the world, these mysterious works invite us to question the nature of learning and to examine the real and not real.

I could not have made this series of cyanotypes without the expertise and knowledge of the master printmaking technicians at the Royal College of Art. Thank you to Andrew Richardson, Robin Smart and Alan Smith.

Blueprints gallery

A blueprint is...

1. A contact print on light sensitive paper of a technical drawing, architectural plan or other image rendered as white lines on a blue background. Also called cyanotype

2. A process invented by Sir John Herschel in 1842, nephew of Caroline Herschel and an English polymath, mathematician, astronomer, chemist and experimental photographer. In his life, he named the seven moons of Saturn and four moons of Uranus. His investigations included the Comet Halley, colour blindness, the flora of southern Africa and the chemical power of ultraviolet rays

3. A now obsolete process that produces a negative of an original. Paper is impregnated with a solution of ammonium ferric citrate and dried. When the paper is illuminated, a photoreaction turns the trivalent ferric iron into divalent ferrous iron. The image is then developed using a solution of potassium ferricyanide forming insoluble ferroferricyanide (Prussian blue or Turnbull’s blue) with the divalent iron. Excess ammonium ferric citrate and potassium ferricyanide are then washed away

4. A detailed plan of action

5. A model or prototype
Blueprint definitions

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