09 April 2010

Why Stop Time

William GIbson noted that humans are the only animal who creates prosthetic forms of memory that survive their creator: writing, music, dance, art, photography ...shadows on cave walls.

In counterpoint, Tonino Guerra, in his forward for a book of Andrei Tarkovsky's Polaroid photographs, recounted a story about traveling with the film maker Michelangelo Antonioni. In Uzbekistan, Antonioni offered three elderly men an instant photograph he'd taken of them with his SX-70. After looking over the image, the eldest handed back the gift and asked "why stop time?".

Why indeed.

Photographs stop time, though always imperfectly. And no camera accomplishes this feat of imperfection quite like the Polaroid SX-70 cameras and their decendants. Even when integral film and cameras were first introduced by Polaroid in the early 1970s, contemporary analog photography easily outperformed them --if accuracy and detail are alone the metric for a desirable photograph. But Polaroids produced images that were more often than not far from technically accurate but approached something oddly closer to emotional truth. Maybe that's why so many people cling to this magical, frustrating and peculiar technology despite the exponential ease and ubiquity of digital cameras. And why so many people have worked so hard to restore instant photography to the market.

I'm happy it's back in my life.


creampuff said...

nice black t-shirt you have there...

Jeanette said...

I've always been intrigued by Polaroids, unfortunately they were before my time.