Polaroid in the Attic

Polaroid in the Attic2

300,000,000 Polaroid cameras exist globally.

Yes, that many! It’s not a typo. Three hundred million. Edwin Land, an American Harvard dropout, first developed the camera. He was a physicist and inventor. He discovered a one-step process to develop and print photographs instantly. Land founded the Polaroid Corporation in 1937, which manufactured his new camera and with it, he revolutionised instant photography.

But around 2006, Polaroid Corporation announced it was to discontinue Polaroid film, typically SX-70, type 665, and type 85 films. They explained that they were “exiting the film business and closing plants in the U.S., Mexico and Enschede, in the Netherlands, to focus on digital photography and flat-panel televisions”. They ceased production totally in February 2008.

So where were the owners of the 300,000,000 Polaroid cameras to get their film?

In October, that same year, a small team from the Enschede branch bought the filmmaking machines and leased the factory building to continue production of Polaroid film. The IMPOSSIBLE Project was born.

Owners of Polaroid cameras could once again acquire film. The original Polaroid colour dyes were no longer available, so they had to create them from scratch. They focused on instant film for vintage Polaroid SX-70, 600 and Spectra cameras. They created black & white film and colour film. Their aim was to ‘keep the magic of analog instant photography alive by inventing and producing new instant film’.

“The project is more than a business plan; it’s a fight against the idea that everything has to die when it doesn’t create turnover” explains Florian Kaps, who is one of the founding members of The IMPOSSIBLE Project. And they have succeeded. Because Polaroid images became quite rare, this created an aura around them, due to the materiality and the tangibility of the finished image. Polaroids then became very hip and in-style. Now they are often used in advertising, which is always an indication of how popular a trend is.

Although you can buy Polaroid film on eBay, it is so rare prices are high. Also the film may not have been stored properly (i.e. not in a fridge) and you may get disappointing results. Though then again, you may get some exceptionally unusual images.

The IMPOSSIBLE Project: http://the-impossible-project.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theimpossibleproject

By Tracy O’Brien