details and furtive glances always seem to catch the lens’ focus, the way nothing looks
accidental? Is it the
those first pale colors appear, arriving both fresh and old before deepening,
tunneling backwards? Is it the shaking—pointless, by the way—to make the picture
dry faster, develop more fully? The way life inside a Polaroid looks unaccountably warm and safe, in a way no one could ever reasonably expect?
Polaroid’s brush with extinction started in 2001 when, nearing bankruptcy, the company was restructured by various investment firms known for selling off valuable assets from failed brands. Curiously, the instant film didn’t count as one of those assets and was consigned to the scrap-heap. In 2004, the company stopped producing the negatives needed to create its instant film, and four years later, the company’s materials supply was running dangerously short of demand. Undeterred, the company continued with plans to dismantle its chief instant-film plant in Enschede, Holland.
Bosman and Kaps sensed the truth Polaroid management had missed: Sales may have declined with the rise of digital cameras, but the antiquated film sold steadily to a cultishly devoted base that, the two men argued, more than justified the manufacturing costs. In 2008 alone, 24 million instant-film packets were sold around the globe, feeding an estimated one billion working Polaroid cameras worldwide. A living anachronism, maybe, but certainly living.
focus. It’s a built-in caption site that takes Sharpie ink particularly
well. Even the frame’s milky color suggests a sustaining, wholesome
thing, like baby teeth. There’s simply a different kind of seeing taking place. Applications like Poladroid or dozens of Photoshop tutorials make it easy to re-create the act of slipping a white frame on any picture, and industrial designers have paid winking homage in “Polaroid-frame” products, from potted plants to picture frames to hand mirrors from Atypyk and Colin O’Dowd.
Polapremium clearly understands Polaroid’s fascinating relationship to time. Their site describes Fade to Black’s allure like this: “It is almost as if TIME tears at the picture’s existence in FAST FORWARD…the precious moment of time becomes a VISUAL SECRET.”
Wakeup Call; Screenshot from The Impossible Project; Polanoid user …cave; Polaroid Flower Vase by Jung Hwajin; an example of Face to Black’s demise, via Polapremium; Photo-transformation,
8/16/76 by Lucas Samaras, taken with Polaroid
SX-70 camera, via Pace/Macgill Gallery; Polanoid user chikapop]