The instant image: for the majority of people today this means a quick snap on a smartphone, applying aesthetically pleasing filters and exporting the image via a photo-sharing app into cyberspace. The Impossible Project, on the other hand, seeks to preserve and resurrect the original analog instant image– no re-takes, no digital copies– through instant film: inherently immediate and yet tangible, an increasingly rare commodity in today’s digital society. Nuvango Gallery is excited to present a collaborative exhibit with this fascinating company, and in preparation for this exhibition I dove deep into the history and current creative problem-solving of the Impossible Project.
Intervening just two days before the last remaining Polaroid film factory in Enschede, Holland was to close its doors and destroy millions of dollars of equipment in 2008, three enthusiasts with a vision stepped in to undertake the impossible task of recreating the lost original film formula for Polaroid cameras; the Impossible Project was born.
The title of the project was aptly appropriated from a quote by Edwin Land, the eminent founder of Polaroid: “don't undertake a project unless it's manifestly important and nearly impossible.” Impossible Project co-founder Florian Kaps and his team hired former Polaroid engineers to create chemical recipes (with some early attempts being more successful than others) while preserving the original analog charm found in Polaroid images. Today, Impossible is the only company in the world who makes original format instant film.
Most recently, Impossible has launched its own line of instant cameras. One of the project’s main objectives is to reinvent analog instant photography for the digital age; the latest Impossible offering is the I-1 model (which launched at the Museum of Modern Art Design Store in SoHo earlier in May) does just this. While there has been a resurgence of what is old is now new in the technology sphere (the recent reappearance of vinyl records and cassette tapes comes to mind), the I-1 model–which has an austere, retro Polaroid feel to it–is not a camera that belongs in the past, more nostalgic than functional; the camera’s settings can be altered via Bluetooth through a smartphone app.