Hugh Scott-Douglas (b. 1988) was born in Cambridge, England and moved to Toronto in his youth. He received his BFA from OCAD, Toronto in 2010 and now lives and works in Brooklyn.
Since his break-through exhibition The Cabinet of Dr Cagliari in 2013, Scott-Douglas has experimented extensively with cyanotypes, now one of the main media employed by the artist and emblematic of his oeuvre. A much simpler photographic process than darkroom printing, cyanotypes are produced using two chemicals, potassium ferricyanide and ferric ammonium citrate. Having designed a patterned motif using computer-generated algorithms (a modern step of the process added by Scott-Douglas), the chemicals are blended together in equal parts with water, and poured over the chosen textile. The film is then exposed to sunlight over said textile (canvas and linen in this instance) for fifteen minutes. The results of this unique juxtaposition of the chemical with the organic are largely unpredictable due to environmental factors which differ as time passes, such as UV shifts in the sun’s rays or the increase or decrease in cloud cover. Scott-Douglas also uses the cyanotypes for constructing slideshows. In this, he transfers the blues into photographic gels and then has these cut into slides so as to play in a slide reel. The spectrum of colour exhibited in each cyanotype can range from mildly to vastly different, leading the artist to state that “a facet of [his] work is chromatic”.
Although central to his practice, cyanotypes are not the only medium used by the artist. Hugh Scott-Douglas’ work featured in Open Source: Art at the Eclipse of Capitalism explores the limits of another semi-mechanical means of artistic production: the obsolete screentone technique. It consists of an adhesive layer dotted with small marks used by draftsmen to rapidly apply shadowing and texture in graphic novels. The artist applies this technique in a very inaccurate way – by letting particles of dust set between the support and the adhesive layer – to appropriated magnified Patek Philippe watches’ manuals. An interesting contrast arises from the use of the dated screentone procedure to Patek Philippe’s manuals, a brand associated with longevity and inheritance.