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.netwww.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.
The world’s oldest profession is one of the oldest and most reoccurring subject matters in the field of portrait photography. What is it about prostitutes that continue to inspire talented photographers? Perhaps it is to capture the soul of someone, who in many societies is considered soulless. Perhaps its because those who live on the edge, the extremes of society, are always more interesting to those of whom consider themselves “normal”. Survival and morality are universal human themes, and if a society feels that a certain group of its members are more depraved and/or deprived than its whole, it can produce a car crash type of attraction. That and, of course, Sex always seems to sell.
In a subject matter that creates a wide range of controversial responses, photographers present their equally diverse responses on that of a photograph, a permanent “proof of purchase” of sorts, giving validity to their perceptions of prostitution.
Thierry Le Gouès is a fashion photographer whose photographic focus is to make women look beautiful. He did just that when he traveled to Cuba, and photographed prostitutes for his book POPULAR.
It may seem farfetched, but one could dare say his exposure to prostitution may have effected his commercial advertising work.
Another photographer who has worked intensely with the legal sex industry is that of Marc McAndrews. His book project NEVEDA ROSE explores the US’s only region to allow prostitution. He stayed at these brothels for extended periods of time, in order to capture the daily life of legal American prostitutes.
The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York is currently displaying A FEW FRAMES: PHOTOGRAPHY AND THE CONTACT SHEET until January 3, 2010. This Exhibition focuses on the contact sheet as a work of art, and features such artists as Andy Warhol, Robert Frank, Paul McCarthy, Ed Ruscha, as well as, contemporary artists Collier Schorr and Rachel Harrison.
Rachel Harrison ‘Contact Sheet (should home windows…)', 1996
Contact (or Proof) Sheets serve an important part of the photographic process. Often the first chance for an Artist to seethe outcome of a certain project and the foundation of the editing process. Contact sheets are the compilation of all the unedited images, usually printed in a grid after the a roll of film is developed, or in more modern times, the digital files processed into a batch.
Collier Schorr ‘Day Dream (Sky)’, 2007
From a photographer’s perspective, contact sheets are perhaps more intriguing, and provide insight into a certain artist’s processes. To see contact sheets alongside the final selected photograph, gives art enthusiasts a taste of what was being created moments before, and just after certain iconic moments were captured. They are photographic "director's cuts" or "out-takes" in a sense.
Andy Warhol ‘Untitled (Cyclist)’, 1976
However, this method of presentation can itself be a work of art. Especially, when the artist’s aim is not to edit these contact sheets, but rather display all the images collaged as a specific theme.
3rd Ward provides many events and resources for its members, creative professionals, and the New York artistic community at large. Having just opened a second location in Brooklyn, this organization is more active than ever, providing classes, studio space, exhibitions, parties, and more. I most recently attended an exhibition to celebrate their new space, which featured a live chicken running around amongst the guests.
On November 21st from 1-7PM, 3rd Ward will be hosting - SCORE! Pop-up Swap. This is a massive free exchange of clothes, music, art supplies, books, DVDs, etc. Entry is $3 and donations will be accepted until 5PM. Just one of many exciting cultural events being held at 3rd Ward.