The original context for this project was as part of an exhibition that explored the tactility of Polaroids as objects and a medium that is on the verge of extinction. All of the images are taken using SX-70 Polaroid film that has a very unique quality due to it’s chromatic range and high level of contrast. The project assembles a range of Polaroids that I have taken for several years, up to the point that Polaroid ceased production of their SX-70 film in 2006.
Polaroids have a peculiar relationship with the world. They are both image (a window or frame which we lay onto the world) and object which is recognizable as a three dimensional form in its own right. Polaroids represent a sign of something and are signs in themselves, indicating vernacular forms of photography, which documents an act or event of significance, or (as before the advent of digital photography) the artist/photographer’s ‘proof’ of an idea yet to be fully realized. Polaroid’s render the photographic surface visible, and lend themselves to labelling and classification.
These Polaroids document small events that act as a sign or message to passers by in the street – the promise of a ‘good hair cut’ offered in the hand rendered sign of the Chinese barbershop in San Francisco. A street side mattress suggests mobility – moving house, or a spring clean perhaps; whilst the careful arrangement of road cones is a sign from the local council warning of the possibility of a hazard. In short these are trade, domestic and institutional signs that communicate micro gestures available for decoding yet are undetermined, tentative and dependent on context for resolution.
Polaroids themselves are not made to last, they fade, marking the passage of time. Like the Daguerreotype in the 19th century, this type of instant photograph might in the future become a rare artefact, representing a chromatic memory of a more tangible analogue past.
Installation at PS Mirabel