The Lost Art of Polaroid Transfers
In today’s digitally obsessed world I have chosen to go back to old-school analogue photography. Instead of using a digital camera and Photoshop, I’ve chosen to use rely on vintage cameras and expired Polaroid film. With these I use the almost extinct Polaroid Transfer process to create unique works of art. During the 1980s the avant-garde process was very popular, and used for album covers, and magazines like Rolling Stone; but with the bankruptcy of Polaroid in 2009 it became almost a lost art.
To utilise this almost-lost process I take images using a Polaroid 180 camera (c. 1969), or 35mm slide film on a Minolta X-700 camera (c. 1981). The resulting images are transferred onto expired Polaroid 669 film. After exposing an image the developing Polaroid film is pulled apart before complete development, and I hand-press the dye-laden negative onto French watercolour paper. The dyes develop onto the paper and the image is "transferred." The process takes less than 60 seconds, but is difficult to master because it is extremely sensitive to temperature, timing, the type and degree of wetness of the paper, and the amount of pressure used. While I can duplicate transfers multiple times, the flaws that are inherent in this process such as pull lines, fading, mottling and imperfections make each Polaroid Transfer unique. Although frustrating at times, it’s a very artisanal process far removed from digital photography, and when the right balance is achieved the results are magical.
The Polaroid Transfer process creates a soft, grainy, and dreamlike image surrounded by Polaroid’s wonderfully distinctive borders which can only be achieved by using extinct Polaroid film. The images resemble a cross between an impressionist painting and a photograph, but the best transfers transcend either definition, and could best be described as “painterly” photographs. No digital editing is used, each image is purely analogue, and hand crafted.
To see the process click here … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2EIr4yd2Rg
The defining element of my method is the use of the now extinct, and long-expired Polaroid 669 film, which is a very volatile and unpredictable medium. 669 film was cherished by photographers for its odd colour tonality, and suitability for the transfer process; to that can be added the fact that due to its age it now produces dreamy, muted colours with a distinct vintage feel. Sadly the last batch film was produced in 2009, so even the most recent film is already nearly 7 years old, and although the film can be found on eBay and other places prices have reached astronomical levels. All Polaroid film is now expired, extinct and so my Polaroid Transfers are made with a vanishing resource, something which makes them all the more poignant.
Kickin It: Kick Arts Gallery Cairns, November 20, 2015 - 18 January, 2016
Polaroid Resurrection: 90 Degrees Café & Art, Malaysia, 24th – 30th of July 2015
Polaroid Resurrection/Ex Polaroid: Photonet Gallery, Melbourne, 4th - 22nd of April, 2015
Pryme Magazine (USA): March 21, 2015
Enchantress Magazine (USA): February, 2015
Snap It See It (USA): January 21, 2015
Ink 361 (USA): October 17, 2014
Instead of using a digital camera and Photoshop I have chosen to use rely on vintage cameras and expired Polaroid film.