Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Experimenting With Polaroid Transfers, and The End Of Polaroid?

I spent the last couple days of spring break trying some different ideas with Polaroid transfers. I don’t think anything turned out that great, but I do see potential in some of it.

First up, I made a transfer of an image, and then put a Polaroid lift of the same image on top of it.

OK, it’s pretty uninteresting, but at least I tried something different!

Next are a couple of panoramic pieces made by putting three transfers in a row. These are both made from images I shot in the Field Museum.

The same panoramas were also both done as Polaroid lift panoramas last summer, with less success. Here is my post from last summer on the lift panoramas. You can compare both of these panoramas, made from Polaroid transfers, with the ones I made from Polaroid lifts if you click on the link.

These came out ok, but didn’t thrill me that much either. As I wrote about the lift panoramas last summer, I think the geometry and perspective present in the original photos gets lost when treating them in this manner. The transfers don’t suffer from this as much as the lifts do, but the visual noise that the transfer process brings to the panoramas (one of the desired results of the transfer process) is a little distracting here.

One more try. This one, instead of a panoramic image, is more a mosaic made from four separate photos I shot at Fairyland in Oakland, CA last October.

I like this one, even though it’s honestly not that great. It works much better than the panoramic images shot in the Field Museum. I like it because out of everything I tried, this seems to nave the most potential. I’m considering shooting some more mosaic scenes to try a few more of these. Polaroid images are always going to be much lower in quality than other photo processes, but I like the look of this and think some interesting work could be done with it.

Speaking of Polaroid, you may have heard that they are discontinuing the manufacture of most of their films at the end of 2008. That means no more lifts or transfers, unless someone decides to buy the patents from Polaroid and continue manufacturing the film. While Polaroid processes can be a little gimmicky and predictable, there has also been a lot of interesting work made with them. Check out the work of Lucas Samaras to see manipulated SX-70 prints (Time Zero film for SX-70 cameras was discontinued by Polaroid a couple of years ago).

There’s a website, Save Polaroid, for people trying to convince another company to begin producing the film after Polaroid stops producing it. I personally think these processes are worth saving, although I don’t know how effective the campaign to save the film will be. We’ll have to wait and see.

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