Invented by the English scientist Sir John Herschel in 1842 as a means for blueprinting, the cyanotype process is a simple and inexpensive printing method characterised chiefly by its cyan-blue hue. It was first popularised as a photographic printing technique in 1843 by Anna Atkins, a botanist who employed the practice to illustrate her collected herbarium specimens. Attributable to its affordability and amateur procedure, the cyanotype subsequently became a prevalent photographic process into the turn of the century.
Cyanotypes is an innovative exhibition – June 10 to 28, Roman Road, Brussels; June 14 to 26, MAD Agency, Paris – by the French multimedia artist Thomas Mailaender whose appropriation of this traditional technique serves not to comment, nor to foster a significant yet outmoded genre in the history of photography. Rather his cyanotypes challenge and satirise the clichéd legitimacy and parameters of today’s art. Imbued with humorous and bold content, Mailaender’s cyanotypes manifest images taken from the artist’s Fun Archive, a personal collection of absurd and anonymous pictures drawn from the Internet.