Formats

2 - 6 March 2022

‘Formats’ are a series of portraits made using original recording formats. The original inspiration came from seeing a punk. His graphic multi-coloured Mohican looked like it was made out of records and I started wondering if you could make one out of vinyl? Soon I was on Ebay buying up old vinyl and then I came across vintage cassettes for sale, classic films and before I knew it, I found myself re-imagining all these iconic formats as hair.

The headpieces took hundreds of hours to make and the images were shot over 2 years in London, much of it during the lockdowns. The format used in each portrait is made from the period it originated. The costumes also reflect the era of the format. The Afro is made from Donna Summer’s Bad Girls cassettes. The Niqab from 35mm print of the Social Network film.

It was very important to me that original materials were used in the portraits. At one point I cleared out eBay internationally of Donna Summers ‘Bad Girls’ cassettes. Without eBay I couldn’t even have started, and 90% of the materials came from there. Who knew there was a thriving international market for vintage polaroid’s? Where else could you purchase 40 + copies of That’s What I Call Music CD’s (in yellow), or several Super 8 prints of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho? I even purchased 2000 Micro SD cards (the ones you get in your phones) from Ali Baba – Asia’s eBay.

I made most of the headpieces myself. The construction of some were very challenging. Imagine having to cut up CD’s into thousands of tiny spikes by hand? And one format was downright dangerous. I originally tried to cut the Mohican (made of vinyl) using a heat knife, but I soon found out to my detriment that vinyl when heated produces a toxic gas. I eventually found a company that cut all the pieces with water, underwater, much like a super charged Karcher pressure washer, except this water-jet could cut through 18 inch steel.

Many of these formats are no longer produced and I wanted to record strong, graphic, culturally diverse images that play with both form and expectation. These formats have collectively recorded and shaped our creative enjoyment for decades and the series is a visual celebration of their historic importance.

Colin Hutton




Colin Hutton is a professional photographer based in London who specialises in TV & Film publicity imagery for both the UK & International Broadcasters.

His background as a screen-writer and Fulbright scholar have influenced the artistic and narrative approach to his work. His images have been exhibited widely by the Association of Photographers & the Royal Photographic Society. Two of his portraits were selected for Portrait of Britain 2017 & 2018. He has had two previous exhibitions, his most recent being A406, Or Knock Very Loudly Please which was held at the Strand Gallery, Charing Cross in 2015.