There was the instant analogue photograph, the Polaroid cameras, those that had framed the colours and the smiles of thousands of parties in the unforgettable seventies and eighties - who can forget the mechanics? Focus, press the button ... and the photo would appear instantly, emerging from the special film developed in 1947 by the American inventor Edwin Herbert Land.
That was once upon a time, as the advent of digital has landed the Polaroid corporation into a crisis - on 8 February 2008 they announced the end of production of all instant analogue film. In the time of the megapixel, the Polaroid corporation, having lost faith in the future of instant analogue photography, decided to change its market position as a brand of high-consumer electronics, abandoning the production of film whose components were no longer available. Today their top product is the Pogo, a small object which lets you print your digital photos from your mobile phone onto sticky labels.
Another billion Polaroids: why not?
That might have been the last word on instant analogue film if it wasn’t for André Bosman, who decided to re-start production. Having been at Polaroid since 1980, Bosman has been for years the trouble-shooting god of the production process, responsible for all technical aspects of film production, from the construction of installation systems to aspects of mechanical, chemical and electrical engineering including quality control management.
He has re-employed eleven workers fired by the Polaroid corporation, gained possession of the old plants in Enschede in Holland and given life to The Impossible Project with the aim of starting production of instant analogue film for use in vintage Polaroid cameras by 2010. Their mission is to make new films for old cameras, to re-invent instant photography and to reposition in the market a product which is being discovered by new fans every year.
According to Florian Kaps, a fan who has battled on-line against photo digitalization on sites such as polaroid.net, and who is now part of The Imposible Project team, thereis a 'new group of Polaroid enthusiasts who could be a niche market for our films. After all, there are over a billion old Polaroid cameras in existence throughout the world, and up to a couple of years ago, during the christmas period, over 50, 000 were sold in the UK alone.' It’s difficult to say whether technical glitches will be solved by 2010, or whether there is enough nostalgia to feed the dream of The Impossible Project visionaries. What’s for sure is that today, it’s thanks to the pioneers of vintage like Bosman and Knap that the words of the inventor of instant analogue photography, Edwin Land, live on: don't undertake a project, unless it is manifestly important and nearly impossible.