Happy Birthday Dr Edwin Land

Maison Bleue, Edinburgh, SX70 Polaroid PaintingMaison Bleue, Edinburgh, SX70 Polaroid Painting

Maison Bleue, Edinburgh,
SX70 Polaroid Painting

(This image was taken soon after I started using this technnique.)

As I was about to sit down and write a post this morning I happened to glance through my emails first – and promptly abandoned my previous subject. Today is Dr Edwin Land’s birthday ( Thank you, Impossible folks, for the reminder.) He is the inventor behind all things Polaroid, but most importantly in my book, created the SX70 camera and the film it used.

If I were to compile a top ten list of people who have influenced my creative life then he would have to be on it. From the day I discovered what could be achieved with his materials I was hooked. The person I have to thank for this introduction is a Hungarian photographer, Turi Geza who was working in Edinburgh at the time. Around 2002 He had an exhibition of his photographs,referred to as from a Polaroid Land camera. At the time I had no idea what the “Land” referred to and was rather mystified. As soon as I got home I set about finding out what I needed to try my hand at the technique.

An SX70 camera and TimeZero film was the answer. Ebay came up with the former , and in those days the film was still readily available in high street camema shops. There followed a steep learning curve, with lots of images falling by the wayside – but soon there were more hits than misses.

Why was this combination of film and camera so special ? The camera itself was such a lovely object to work with , transforming itself with a slight tug from a rectangular block into a recognisable camera. The magic of the film was that for a short period – perhaps an hour or so – the film emulsion remained fluid and could be manipulated. So the resulting images were not from computer manipulation , but rather created on the actual image.

This is a little video I made a few years ago showing how it works.

From that time until the film went out of production (sob ) this was my principal medium. Of course I bought up as much of the film as I could ( and I still have a tiny bit left – but probably it will not function properly after all this time.) but I hit a huge block. What had previously been quite a carefree process became rather gloomy. In an effort to move past this obstacle I launched into my “12 City Project” which saw me travel to a different city every month for a year , using my remaining film. In the end it turned into a wonderful adventure. ( As I searched through my archive for a post that neatly summed up the whole idea behind this project, I realised I hadn’t written one – so keep a look out for that in the next few days if you’d like to know more.)

There are two consolations for me – one – I have a huge archive of images shot with the film and I continue to work with them to this day ( for example in my cushion collection) and secondly The Impossible Project have worked hard to create new films ( completely new formulations of film) so that those amazing SX70 cameras still have a future.

So Happy Birthday Dr Edwin Land and Thank You !

Other resources – The Impossible Project’s Blog today.

The image at the top of the post is of Maison Bleue restaurant on Edinburgh’s Victoria Street – highly recommended.

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