THE IMPOSSIBLE BECOMES POSSIBLE


Polaroid by Chloe Aftel from the New York Show.

Eight by Ten Polaroid lives! I may be a bit behind in the press release stakes, but the news from The Impossible Project that instant 8″ x 10″ film is now available is  real news.

Polaroid 8″ x 10″ is as analogue as it is possible to get, and to photographers used to bright, crisp colours and sharpness of modern digital prints, it may not appeal.

I’ve never used 8″ x 10″ outside of a Polaroid press launch, but I have used quite a lot of 4″ x 5″ film – both colour and black and white, (with Type 55 [neg + pos] film one of my favourite large format emulsions) and I like the look of it. If 4 x 5 were to return to the market, I’d look seriously at selling my 6cm x 9cm view camera and moving back to 4″ x 5″  just to use Polaroid film again.

The film was first introduced in 1973 along with a special processor (the prices of which have under gone a recent sharp rise on eBay) and while Polaroid probably saw it as a film for advertising use, it soon became one of the films to use for art photography … with all that implies. When Polaroid abandoned film the 8 x 10 production machines were acquired by the Impossible Project against the day it would be able to go into production again.

In late August the company presented the first photographs taken on test film at the Impossible Project Space in New York City with works by a dozen photographers.

At the end of the month it announced that the film would be available from the company’s web site (www.the-impossible-project.com) and its project spaces in New York, Paris, Vienna, Tokyo and world wide through dealers. One pack contains 10 sheets of film and costs $US189 (A$185). At $18.50 a shot that seems a lot, but remember this is the finished print (and it is possible to use the transfer technique)  in hand without any fuss and bother other than running through the processor … a quick and painless process. However, it does mean that every wasted shot costs a bomb.

Polaroid photography is never going to challenge digital photography, but it adds to the options available to photographers, and I hope that The Impossible Project team succeed in their aims of keeping Polaroid instant film alive. Now, if they would just bring back Type 55 …

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