by Fruzsina Eordogh
Shawnee Barton’s post “The Demise of the Photo Booth” got me thinking about artistic nostalgia and the instant Polaroid.
Artists are a finicky, strange people. When they find a process that works for them, sometimes they are too stubborn to change with the technology. It’s a sort of knee-jerk nostalgia in the arts; if it’s old and crappy, we love it, and we’ll eschew all things new.
When Polaroid decided to stop making instant film and cameras, the internet took to arms and created the website “Save the Polaroid”. The artists and hipsters rallied together and posted their photos, and their reasons, for saving the expensive, chemical using, paper wasting film. Users mentioned the vintage look, how it is impossible to screw up a picture with a Polaroid and, my personal favorite: “they are always so real!” (as opposed to any other type of photograph?)
All of these fanciful excuses for preferring the Polaroid over digital imagery don’t stack up when you compare them to reasons to NOT use Polaroids in today’s eco-conscious society. The instant photos offer nothing that cannot be done by other means. Any digital camera or picture editing software can recreate that “polaroid” look, so what is this nostalgia really about?
When a company stops making a product, does that make your memories associated with the product any less real? Do those memories suddenly disappear when the assembly line stops working? In a time when everything is changing and changing so quickly, do we need to hold on to an old technology to remember where we came from? We can’t all be Sally Manns…
For those of you with the desire to fit in with the “wacky Daguerreotype-using Luddite crowd”, rejoice: Last week, The Impossible Project (a group of former Polaroid employees from the Netherlands), began making their own instant film for old Polaroid cameras. Fuji also makes film substitutes for the old Polaroids, and their own instant rectangular film copycat called Instax.
So, don’t fret. You can still take “Polaroids” of yourself listening to your gramophone while you ride your horse to work.