The Impossible Project: Firing up an old Polaroid instant film factory
"Don't undertake a project unless it is manifestly important and nearly impossible." – Edwin Land, Inventor of Instant Photography
That's the quote that opens "The Impossible Project
", a group of obdurate men who have purchased the old Polaroid factory in Enschede, Netherlands, with the aim to restart production of instant film.
Producing instant film for a ratty old camera, no matter how charming it may be, is hardly "manifestly important", especially considering the environmental toll of instant film. (Which is not to draw a distinction between instant and traditional film, but instead to point out that there is the need for plastic, metals, and chemicals to produce a photo at all
. [Besides the camera, but don't you dare...])
The "nearly impossible" part of their endeavor seems at first overwrought: can't they just turn the machines back on? Not exactly. Presuming they could secure the same reagents used by Polaroid, the exact process used is still entwined in patents like good ol' 6,227,729
, which gives Polaroid the rights to a "film cassette for housing and dispensing film units of the self-developing type" until 2019.
But that's not what The Impossible Project claims to want to do. Their stated aim is to "develop a new product with new characteristics, consisting of new optimised components, produced with a streamlined modern setup. An innovative and fresh analog material, sold under a new brand name that perfectly will match the global re-positioning of Integral Films."
I understand that film for Polaroids is getting insultingly expensive
. I understand that these guys miss shooting with their Polaroids. It just seems like an awful lot of effort to go through to recreate something that is not just antiquated, but practically obviated by modern technology. See that photo above? I shot it with my iPhone and processed it on the phone with Camera Bag
before uploading it to Flickr with Mobile Photos
. If I wanted to, I could print out a copy on a home printer or have one of Flickr's parters send me a copy. But instead I can show it instantly to my friends on my phone as well as anyone else in the world online. I find it nearly impossible to understand how that isn't better than shooting with a Polaroid instant in nearly every way.
[via this supremely interesting Metafilter thread]
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