Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The "Impossible" is about to become possible

When Polaroid announced several years ago that it would be hanging up film products for good, the world responded with a resounding "I though you were already dead?" There were a few folks, like myself, who were still using Polaroid and buying up stashes of Polaroid, but most people weren't too alarmed. Those that were alarmed wiped away the tears and immediately jumped online, started blogs, Flickr groups and even companies devoted to satiating Polaroid fanatics.

Sites like "Save Polaroid" led to sites like "" where you could buy all those crazy film fantasies in the form of Lomo and Holga cameras, Polaroid films and more.

Then something interesting happened. Unsaleable magically became This new Polapremium company specialized in only Polaroid, but not only that, they offered films unavailable and even unknown to the majority of Polaroid fans like myself. "Blue" Type 100 Polaroid film? "Soft focus" Spectra? Even "Chocolate" Polaroid, previously only available to those wealthy enough to afford the 8x10 positives and negatives which ran about $200 a box, but now available for less than $20 a box for your Type 80 or Type 100 camera.

Around the same time, a story came out about some Dutch Polaroid ex-employees who got together to buy up Polaroid's equipment and lease their factory to do what seemed the impossible: bring back Polaroid. This endeavor became known as the Impossible Project, a name coined from a phrase said by Dr. Edwin Land, founder of Polaroid, who said "don't undertake a project unless it is manifestly important and nearly impossible. This group at the Impossible Project decided they were going to make new Polaroid film and even try to make it easier to manufacture since the old Polaroid films used dozens of resources just to make one print. The folks at either company didn't make a big deal about it, but a lot of people noticed that the people with the Impossible Project were connected to Polapremium. Not only that, but Ilford was involved.

Today, we see that this wasn't just talk. Polapremium has changed its name once again, and this time it's "Impossible", a clear connection to The Impossible Project (even the URL gives it away). While much of its stock is depleted, it is clear that Impossible (Project) is serious about an announcement they'll be making in late March, apparently about some new developments they've made for future Polaroid films. 

All I can say is if they announce new large format peel apart film -- especially my beloved Type 55 -- it'll be a great birthday present! Otherwise, I'll be content with some new film for my Onestep.

Imagining Past and Present: a Photo Retrospective by Jeffrey Engel

Not too pretentious a title hopefully! I'll have a solo show from March 3 through 28 at the Loading Dock Gallery in Lowell, MA. An opening reception will be held on Friday March 5th from 6 to 9pm. Some of the work that will be in the show will cover a wide range in terms of age as well as media. I'll have photos from the early '90s, and I'll have recent Polaroid emulsion lift pieces. There is no over-arching theme other than most of the pieces tend to be landscapes or environmental photos.

I'll also have a few hand-made silver-gelatin prints available. I made these at Bill LaPete's lab in South Boston. Bill is a master printer, a genius at his craft, and he'll impart some secrets you never learn in art school if you use his darkroom.