The most innovative technological developments in the scope of photography may not be in the foresight of the digital age, but rather in the hindsight of the analog methods of instant film.
Many questions have surrounded the Polaroid Company as of June of 2008, when they announced the ceasing of instant film production, followed by their bankruptcy and their subsequent change of owners. The future of Polaroid and their products remain uncertain, but it appears that they are going to focus exclusively on digital products.
Rising from the vexation of instant Polaroid enthusiasts world-wide was the IMPOSSIBLE PROJECT. This company’s mission is “to re-invent and restart production of analog INTEGRAL FILM for vintage Polaroid Cameras.
I had a chance to correspond with the Impossible Project’s media representative, Marlene Kelnreiter, and to ask her a few questions about this project:
JG - What were the reasons for Polaroid to cease production? Was it purely financial, the perceived lack of a market for instant film, or the inefficiencies of the production aspects? Other reasons?
MK - Instant photography used to be a mass product for Polaroid for years. With the digital revolution, their sales in instant photography decreased comparatively dramatically - and instant products no longer seemed profitable for them. They decided to concentrate purely on digital products and shut down the production of instant cameras in 2007 and of instant film in 2008.
JG - Where did the idea come about to re-continue production of a similar instant film? How did this project get started ?
MK - Florian Kaps, the founder of Impossible, is passionate about instant photography and has been running three instant film projects since 2005 www.polanoid.net www.polanoir.com and www.polapremium.com When hearing that Polaroid was ceasing production, he was shocked at first, but then his vision emerged - this was not the end but the start of a new beginning. He called and wrote Polaroid many times asking them to sell him their production machines, etc, but they were not interested. It was then, not before the closing of the factory in Enschede (NL), when he met André Bosman, former Polaroid production manager, and now his business partner, that he got the concrete chance to stop the destruction, lease the factory and start The Impossible Project.
JG - At what status is The Impossible Project? What successes in both business and in the production process have recently occurred? Also, what, as a former Polaroid consumer, can I be hoping for from the Impossible Project? What can the photographic public see or will be able to see from TIP in their own communities?
MK - TIP is shortly before starting test production of the new film on the machines. So far only film examples from the lab exist.
In 2010 TIP will introduce 6 different kinds of NEW IMPOSSIBLE INSTANT integral films in the course of 2010. We'll start with monochrome film with both 100 and 400+ ASA (for all Polaroid 600 and SX-70 type
cameras) in the beginning of the year. In summer the first IMPOSSIBLE COLOR INSTANT FILMS will follow, as well as the monochrome Type 1200 film (compatible with all Polaroid Image and Spectra cameras). Last, but not least, we will introduce 400+ ASA COLOR material in two formats: in September: The square format IMPOSSIBLE INSTANT FILM for all 600 cameras as well as the larger version to be used in all Image cameras.
all images ©2009 IMPOSSIBLE B.V.