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Urban Outfitters + The Impossible Project

  • LEARN MORE ABOUT THE IMPOSSIBLE PROJECT
  • EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE: THE BOOK
  • EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE: A POLAROID GROUP SHOW
  • THE HISTORY OF POLAROID

We've partnered with The Impossible Project to help them on their mission to bring instant film photography back to life. When Polaroid ended instant film production in 2008, The Impossible Project picked up where they left off—purchasing a Polaroid factory and equipment in Holland. Now they're on track to start producing their own instant film in early 2010. We're proud to support them with exclusive Polaroid product and an exhibiton of Polaroid photography.



BUY DEADSTOCK FILM AND CAMERAS TO SUPPORT THE IMPOSSIBLE PROJECT

When Polaroid Announced They Were Ceasing Production of Instant Film in 2008...

How did you get involved with the Impossible Project?
Dave Bias: I founded SavePolaroid.com with a friend in February of 2008. At the same time, I had started emailing Doc [Dr. Florian Kaps, Impossible Project founder] because I felt like he was one of the few people on the planet who was positioned to do something about Polaroid. He had started Unsaleable, which sold Polaroid film and equipment, and he had been talking with people at Polaroid for years for various reasons—for the SX-70 Blend film and the TZ Artistic film, which were both made by Polaroid but only because Doc had lobbied to have them made. He actually visited each of the factories as they were closing down.

A BIG PART OF WHAT WAS IMPOSSIBLE ABOUT THE IMPOSSIBLE PROJECT WAS...

When you started SavePolaroid, did you think you would end up playing a part in bringing this kind of technology back?
I obviously hoped so, or I wouldn't have done it. I was serious about it. For me it was a challenge to try to figure out what was happening, how Polaroid film was made. It was an enormous amount of learning and as I got more and more into it I realized that, if necessary, I would pursue it all the way. Concurrently, I was emailing people who I felt were in a better position then me to do this—because I don't have any money and I don't really have contacts to that world—and Doc was one of them. Then last November, he came to New York to meet me, and we just went from there. My obsession and his obsession sort of mirrored one another. He re-discovered Polaroid at an older age, like I did, and he fell back in love with it and he had started Unsaleable in an effort to support Polaroid. He was ahead of me in the learning curve, and he essentially bought the last Polaroid factory and hired some of the staff, and its task is to make new film that will work in Polaroid cameras. But the jury is still out on whether it is going to be called Polaroid film or if we're going to come up with some other name. Do you know the whole backstory?

Some, but please elaborate.
Polaroid made negatives. Every Polaroid has a negative and a positive. The negative material was actually made in Boston and that equipment was de-comissioned years ago, but before they did that, they ran out miles and miles of negative and put it in cold storage. So once that negative was gone, there really wasn't anybody to make more of it. A big part of what was impossible about the Impossible Project was trying to figure out how to make this new negative. It's a matter of sourcing the materials and figuring out the machinery to actually make these things. Edwin Land was a scientist and chemist, but a lot of his genius was in building the stuff to make the stuff. Process engineering, I think, is the official name for it—he would not only invent a film, but invent a process to make it. The problem we have is not that that information was lost, it's that we don't have an endless amount of money to throw at it. If we did, we would already be making film, but the film would cost $100 a pack.

It seems like with the Impossible Project, you're not just trying to make film, but also continue Polaroid's legacy.
My girlfriend and I had the opportunity to go to Boston and essentially meet the last US employees of Polaroid. So we meet these three people and between the three of them, they had worked for Polaroid for 93 years. Two of them, their mothers had worked for Polaroid, one as a film assembler under Edwin Land directly back in the '40s. One of the guys we talked to, who worked in security said, "I work for Dr. Land. I don't work for the people who run Polaroid today, I work for Dr. Land." Dr. Land was that kind of person, he was an inspirational figure and people wanted to work for him, they loved working for him, and even after he left the company, some of the people who stayed, worked for him still. They have people who sign their paycheck, but they work for Dr. Land. You don't really hear stuff like that anymore. We're hoping that in some way we can carry that on.

Everything Is Possible: A Polaroid Group Show

Self-Portraits

CLICK PHOTO FOR MORE INFORMATION



WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN YOU HEARD POLAROID WAS GOING TO BE DISCONTINUED?

"Heartbroken. It signaled not only the end of instant film, but also the slow death of analog photography."


WHAT'S AN IMPORTANT MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE THAT YOU'VE CAPTURED ON POLAROID?

I never have.


WHAT'S AN IMPORTANT MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE THAT YOU'VE CAPTURED ON POLAROID?

"I think Polaroid film has helped me remember the small details of certain moments/memories more than anything else. Being able to look at a place, object or person, and capture them instantly on a print seems to lend itself to the nuances that wouldn't come across with a different type of film."


WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN YOU HEARD POLAROID WAS GOING TO BE DISCONTINUED?

"Melancholy."


WHY DO YOU THINK POLAROID PHOTOS ARE SPECIAL?

"Polaroid is on to its own because of the emulsion. It always feels like a collaboration with the medium. The color palette is very specific and recognizable."


WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN YOU HEARD POLAROID WAS GOING TO BE DISCONTINUED?

"My serious interest in photography post-dates the discontinuation of Polaroids, so The Impossible Project gave me an important opportunity to discover it. The week I shot for the show coincided with my return to America after four years. My amateur relationship to the Polaroids I took mirrors well the new feelings I had about the transition."


WHAT'S AN IMPORTANT MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE THAT YOU'VE CAPTURED ON POLAROID?

"Actually, there's one photo in the set that is the most important Polaroid of my life. I sneakily put in the series. You should guess which one that is."


WHAT'S AN IMPORTANT MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE THAT YOU'VE CAPTURED ON POLAROID?

"We once had a house-warming party and the day of the party my house-mate bought a whole lot of expired film from the pastor having a garage sale next door. We took a photo of everyone at the party and put them up on the wall as the night went on. It was a rockin' party and everyone remembered the Polaroid wall."


WHAT'S AN IMPORTANT MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE THAT YOU'VE CAPTURED ON POLAROID?

"Cat on the windowsill. Drunk in the park. Family vacation."


WHAT'S AN IMPORTANT MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE THAT YOU'VE CAPTURED ON POLAROID?

"When I was 20, a friend of mine asked me to punch him in the face at a party. Hesistant, but never to turn down a challenge, I did. I thought I actually hit him pretty lightly but immediately there was a crack and I had broken his nose. As he was bleeding profusely I struggled to help him with towels. While I was doing this, someone took a Polaroid of us."


WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN YOU HEARD POLAROID WAS GOING TO BE DISCONTINUED?

"At first not surprised but having used them I think it's a shame. If they made a digital camera that printed a photo then deleted it from the camera's memory it still wouldn't be the same. I hope it sticks around."


WHAT'S AN IMPORTANT MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE THAT YOU'VE CAPTURED ON POLAROID?

"5 Polaroids we had at home of my newborn sister. They were taken by my dad at the hospital. The nurses lent him a Polaroid camera so he could take some pictures of my little sister in an incubator to show my mum, who was in intensive care. The pictures are blurry with a completely white or red looking baby—depending on which photo you look at—and they kind of scared me."


WHY DO YOU THINK POLAROID PHOTOS ARE SPECIAL?

"'Clear plastic, acid layer, timing layer, image layer, reagent layer, base layer (black). Light sensitive layer, yellow dye developer, spacer, light sensitive layer (green), magenta dye developer, spacer, light sensitive layer (red), Cyan dye developer, base (black).' Developing chemicals present in the film itself."


WHY DO YOU THINK POLAROID PHOTOS ARE SPECIAL?

"They're so damn milky!! And nostalgic and dreamy like little angels!!"


WHY DO YOU THINK POLAROID PHOTOS ARE SPECIAL?

"Because they bring out the stitching of my Margiela sweater."


WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN YOU HEARD POLAROID WAS GOING TO BE DISCONTINUED?

"I actually had all my Polaroids on the wall and was doing some drawings from them. I thought I should go out and shoot."


WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN YOU HEARD POLAROID WAS GOING TO BE DISCONTINUED?

"I thought I would ration my film and use it for special occasions, but I think I burnt through it in a week or so. But that's how I've always been with Polaroids, when I got my hands on film, I loved it and used it up just as fast as I got it. Suppose what I'm saying is that while I love shooting Polaroids, it never really hit me that it was gone."


WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN YOU HEARD POLAROID WAS GOING TO BE DISCONTINUED?

"Oh, just another step of the globalization and formalization of photography. Tits, ass and market are our God!!"


WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN YOU HEARD POLAROID WAS GOING TO BE DISCONTINUED?

"I thought about a bad joke and immediately double-checked the information. I had remembered how I preferred my chemistry lessons to my mathematics ones in college. I feel lucky to live a period of my life where it remains possible to experience the surprise of a Polaroid being processed!"


lovemark's
hey to'day to day to'day's the day........ right now, "now now now"
is the simple joy of been in the moment
"everyday" as her light cum'z up ... ya let her in.......
no thought's never a thought,
as shes allway's here
an some'how one know'z every'thing cum'z back inna circle of life
as with the season's
exchanging light's
love engay'ges exchange's
beso
x


WHY DO YOU THINK POLAROID PHOTOS ARE SPECIAL?

"I love that instant moment when the picture develops, it's surprising and unexpected like unwrapping a present. What makes it really diferrent is that every photo is unique, and the texture and tones are so beautiful, they blend in a very special way, like no other film."


WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN YOU HEARD POLAROID WAS GOING TO BE DISCONTINUED?

"Felt bad for the future generations."


WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN YOU HEARD POLAROID WAS GOING TO BE DISCONTINUED?

"It elicited the same emotional reaction as the discontinuation of a Beanie Baby. People who had convinced themselves they needed something they didn't changed their minds and realized they really didn't need it. Photographers are, aside from painters, the most medium fetishizing types of art makers in the world."


WHY DO YOU THINK POLAROID PHOTOS ARE SPECIAL?

"It's really the one moment photo, and it can be seen asap by both the photographer and the one in the photo. They could share the moment. It's wonderful that they could enjoy the happiness of photography."


WHY DO YOU THINK POLAROID PHOTOS ARE SPECIAL?

"I think Polaroids are special because, for the person shooting it, there is very little control. Less control = more errors. More errors = MORE MAGIC! And magic is all we care about anyway, isn't it?"


WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN YOU HEARD POLAROID WAS GOING TO BE DISCONTINUED?

"I didn't really believe it, and I think I knew that it wasn't going to be the end of Polaroid forever."


WHY DO YOU THINK POLAROID PHOTOS ARE SPECIAL?

"Polaroids are very precious. They are contained in this one size, and whenever I take them, I always feel like I am really capturing a tiny moment which comes out in a cute little frame. There is also something really amazing with the quality of the image, a soft, smooth sort of a feeling."


WHAT'S AN IMPORTANT MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE THAT YOU'VE CAPTURED ON POLAROID?

"I think most of my girlfriends, or at least the ones that I loved, are somehow, naked or not, in my Polaroid files."


WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN YOU HEARD POLAROID WAS GOING TO BE DISCONTINUED?

"When I heard Polaroids were going to be discontinued, I thought about digital taking over. It seems as though photography is becoming a thing to share over the Internet, instead of holding photos in your hand and showing them to people, sharing memories in real life."


WHAT'S AN IMPORTANT MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE THAT YOU'VE CAPTURED ON POLAROID?

"The first time I met my girlfriend."

FOR MORE INFORMATION, SEE SPACE15TWENTY.COM

Photographs

An Instant History: Polaroid Past, Present, and Future

1929: Dr. Edwin Land discovers a way to polarize light without needing a large crystal... CHARLES AND RAY EAMES' FILM ABOUT THE SX-70 CAMERA

Click to See the Book

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