Instant Art and the Polaroid Revival

Polaroid is attempting to stage a comeback after the supposed death of instant photography due to increased use of digital cameras. In June 2008 Polaroid stopped production of Polaroid film which caused some artists like Mark Roberts and Denise Rouleau to hold their own “Last Polaroid Show.” However there is hope of a rebirth as The Impossible Project, a team of people who have purchased the old Polaroid factory in the Netherlands, are attempting to develop a cheaper version of the instant film that will work in Polaroid cameras. The project aims to release a limited amount of instant film in the middle of this year.

At the Berlin Fashion Week photographer Stefan Milev used Polaroid film and camera (supplied by the Impossible Project) to capture some impressive shots for the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin daily newspaper.

The Impossible Project is not the only group interested in analog photography. A series of Lomography stores serve to satisfy the desire for instant (and other analog) photography. Lomographers live by a set of 10 golden rules that promote the capturing of spontaneous shots. The Lomography website seeks to develop an online community of instant photography fans and allows members to share their photos. These stores stock a range of Fuji instant cameras and film.

With the Impossible Project and Lomography reviving instant photography it is clear that the medium will still be available for future photographic artists. One debate in the philosophy of photography is the extent to which analog photographs can be considered artworks. It would seem that the photographer uses the instant camera to record some real event at some time. Given the mechanical nature of the photographic process some explanation is required of what aesthetic properties an instant photograph has. For more information on the debates surrounding the philosophy of photography see the Philosophy Compass article by Diarmuid Costello and Dawn M. Phillips here.

The Impossible Project website can be found here. Check this site on February 22 for a project update.
The Lomography website is here.

Related articles:
Automatism, Causality and Realism: Foundational Problems in the Philosophy of Photography
Diarmuid Costello and Dawn M. Phillips, University of Warwick
(Vol. 3, December 2008)
Philosophy Compass

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