Monday, 8 March 2010

Croeso y Polaroid.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine attending a Polaroid seminar in Shirley Bassey's Cardiff.

But, I did. And happily so did about 50 other people. Even more surprisingly, not all of them were complete addicts or nutcases either; some just had a passing interest (of course this may well lead to full-fledged habit in the near future). This made sitting in the freezing, glass-walled room in an elegant arcade, I used to hunt for trinkets in, all the more interesting.

I don't have a lot to say. If you didn't go, you should have, but if you want to find out a bit more then read on...

It all kicked off with a bit of Polaroid cultural reference pointing from academic Peter Buse. Dam, imagine getting paid to research Polaroid?? I'm tempted to apply for a PhD studentship. I suppose many, or all, of us have attempted to answer the cultural significance of Polaroid question for themselves but it's tricky to not get wrapped in personal meaning and forget the wider cultural experience. How to define a phenomenom whose rainbow stretches all the way from bubblegum pop culture to champagne-swilling fine art? These are the questions Peter wrestles with.

Next up was Mikael Kennedy. I'm sure many of you have also trapsed all over his intriguing Passport to Trespass blog. Mikael showed a slide show from his wanderings around the US while trying to put into words why he did what he did and how he did it. No mean feat. What gets me most about Mikael's Polaroids is there's no gimickry. He never takes the cheap or the easy path to beauty. What you share is the raw experience of a person's life through hundreds of 3 inch squares.

Marc Arkless has spent the past 30 years as a serious Polaroid "user" with a particular fascination with the SX-70. He's a big guy and I particulalry enjoyed how a serious technical photographer can become so wrapped up in Polaroids that are for the large part empty vistas of blue seas and skies. True escapsim and something I can identify with.

Probably the most interesting talk per se was Colin Harding of the National Media Museum. I just didn't know there were instant cameras before Polaroid... But there fucking were. Unbelievable. Why did no one tell me this before?? Anyway, sounds like it's worth a trip to the museum to find out some more and steal a few of the cameras from the collection.

The day closed with Mic Wright, a self-confessed pale writer type, who did a brilliant article for Wired Magazine in January about the Impossible Project. Brilliant because it was at a time when so many people were spewing out the same old drivel and twisting elements of the story into a giant knotted hair ball of confusion. More power to Mic for getting to the bottom of it all.

Muchos thanks to Sam, Anne, and the crew for putting it on.

Polaroid in Time Zero.


  1. much gnashing of teeth.. why was'nt I there????

  2. I don't know... Not often there's a Roid seminar down the road! Exhibition might stil be up though?