In 1943 the American inventor and scientist Edwin H. Land was asked by his daughter why she couldn’t see immediately the photograph he had just taken. Within an hour, Land had conceived of the technology required to make this seemingly impossible demand a reality. So begins the story of Polaroid instant photography, an invention that revolutionized the taking and making of pictures. But Land’s creation was more than a groundbreaking scientific accomplishment; it also heralded an exciting new chapter of artistic expression. Through the efforts of thousands of photographers the world over, as well as the corporation’s own artist support programme, which provided many with materials, Polaroid would help shape the artistic landscape of the late twentieth century – and, indeed, up to the present day.
Published to accompany a major travelling exhibition, The Polaroid Project is a creative exploration of the relationship between Polaroid’s many technological innovations and the art that was produced with their help. A wealth of illustrations showcases not only the myriad and often idiosyncratic approaches taken by such photographers as Ansel Adams, Robert Mapplethorpe, Ellen Carey and Chuck Close, but also a fascinating selection of the technical objects and artefacts that speak of the sheer ingenuity that lay behind the art. With essays by the exhibition’s curators and leading photographic writers and historians, The Polaroid Project provides a unique perspective on the Polaroid phenomenon – a technology, an art form, a convergence of both – and its enduring cultural legacy.
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