The Blackford Project

The Blackford Project is based on the historical use of the photograph as an evidential document in the defunct pseudoscience physiognomy. The title in particular refers to the use of physiognomy and photography by Katherine Blackford and Arthur Newcombe in the early 20th century. Blackford and Newcombe ran a job placement agency whose ethos was to place individuals in certain types of jobs based on their appearance and according to the guidelines set out in physiognomy. Despite the racist nature of physiognomy it was still employed by the corporation in the late 19th and early 20th century to exclude certain ethnic groups from well-paid jobs. ‘The Blackford Project’ represents not just the historical role the corporation played in facilitating and perpetuating such an ideology but also demonstrates how technology like the photograph was deployed in order to support it.