Ruined Polaroids

These pictures are taken with a camera that is, by most definitions, broken: an old Polaroid SX-70 camera that I rescued from a yard sale last year. I’ve always loved this camera. It is an ingeniously conceived, complicated bundle of gears and switches with dozens of moving parts packed in tight like a chrome and leather pistol.

 With its first use I realized the camera wasn’t functioning properly. It sometimes spills out 2 pictures at a time and the film often gets stuck in the gears, exposing and mangling them in unpredictable ways. The image as it is exposed within the camera becomes pulled and stressed by these violent mechanisms, often to abstraction. Before long I was participating in its process, collaborating with it. I've figured out how to control and accentuate aspects of the camera's flaws but the images themselves are always a surprise. Each one is determined by the idiosyncrasies of the film and the camera.

 I am impressed with the old technology’s resilience. This Polaroid camera is broken, by chance, in a way that is productive but the flaw that has given it that extra dimension has also robbed it of its initial purpose. When the narrative and depictive elements are nearly removed from the photographs one can concentrate on the details of its abstraction. Any representational remnants of the original image as well as any hint of the will of the photographer become recontextualized inside this new dynamic.

 Instantaneous, cheap and ubiquitous digital photography has long since replaced Polaroid film. In doing so it’s rendered the old technology antiquated for conventional image making. What Ruined Polaroids offers is a picture of the Polaroid process itself frozen in time and plucked out of the camera mid-gesture.