Presentation

Polanoir


Using a Polaroid camera will afford every photography aficionado with endless sensual fiestas and the ever-so vivid magic moments in photography that go along.

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Issue 17 (3/2006) • december 31, 2006


Polanoir

The Polaroid Story
In the first half of the 20th century,

a certain Edwin Land had a groundbreaking idea which already then paved the way for one important aspect of digital photography: the instant image!

What has become a matter of routine to those of us who know what to look for on a digital display is something Polaroid already made possible decades ago. Even more than that. Not only could Polaroid photographers witness the development of their pictures straight away - they could instantly hold them in their hands. They could feel and smell their pictures, immediately present them to those around and - the very next moment - give them away to their hearts' content. Polaroid is still synonymous with the noble art of spontaneity, immediacy and intimacy.

Using a Polaroid camera will afford every photography aficionado with endless sensual fiestas and the ever-so vivid magic moments in photography that go along.

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The genesis of Polaroid

1928: Edwin Land creates the first synthetic sheet polarizer.

1929: Edwin Land files his first patent for the sheet polarizer that will be used for photographic filters, sunglasses, and glare-reducing airplane and car windows.

1935: The trademark Polaroid and the trademark logo of intersecting polarizing disks are adopted

1937: The sheet polarizer will be sold as the first product of the Polaroid Corporation

1938: Polaroid produces Drafting Table Lamps, Desk Lamps, Dermatology Lamps and Polariscopes

1939: Sunglasses represent the company's first substantial commercial market and more than a million pairs of Polaroid glasses are sold to the public

1944: While on vacation, Land's daughter asks why she has to wait to see the picture he has just taken of her. During a solitary walk around Santa Fe, he undertakes the task of solving the problem his daughter has introduced. Within an hour he has visualized most requirements for the camera, the film, and the physical chemistry.

Land writes: It was as if all that we had done in learning to make polarizers... had been a school and a preperation both for the first day in which I suddenly knew how to make a one-step dry photographic process and for the following three years in which we made the very vivid dream into reality.

1946: Just before Christmas several hundred employees of Polaroid assemble in a motion picture theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts. On the screen appears a scene from The Horn Blows at Midnight. An angle poses in front of an camera and another angle snaps the picture. The finished portrait emerges from the camera instantly. When the theater lights go back on, Land tells the employees, Now you know what SX-70 is No further explanation is given. (SX-70 was the code name for the Land one-step developing process)

1947: Instant Photography is born. On February 21, Land astonishes the audience at the Optical Society of America with the announcement of the one-step process for producing finished photographs in just sixty seconds.

1948: The first Polaroid Land camera, the Model 95, is sold in Boston on November 26th for USD 89,75

1956: The one-millionth camera, a Modell 95A is sold in South Orange, New Jersey, on December 31.

1963: With the Type 48 and Type 38 Polacolor Land roll film Polaroid introduces instant color film

1972: The revolutionary SX-70 system is introduced. The camera is fully automatic, motorized, folding, single lens reflex, which ejects self developing, self timing color prints.

1973: SX-70 cameras are assembled at a rate of 5000 a day and sx-70 film at a rate of 50.000 packs a day.

1974: Polaroid estimates that well over a billion instant prints will be made this year, and over half will be made in color.

1978: Polavision, a new instant color motion picture system that makes 2,5 minute films in self-developing cassettes, is introduced.

1991: Edwin H. Land dies at 81. Born May 7, 1909, he held U.S. patents second in number only to Thomas Edison.

2007: Together with Unverkaeuflich Handels Gmbh, initiators of various Polaroid-centered projects, Polaroid began to produce a film which is optimized for all SX-70 cameras. The SX-70 Blend Film is based on the Polaroid 600 Film and has become the follow-up product to the original SX-70 Film which was discontinued in late 2006. This product is Polaroid's first reaction to the growing demand for analog instant films among a very art-inclined and youthful community.


The Founders

Florian Kaps (pseudonym: doc)

communities : Polanoir

1969: Born in Vienna

1998: Graduated from university as Doctor of Sciences.

The diploma and doctoral theses dealt with electrophysiological research and behavioral analyses of the visual system in an eight-eyed South American hunting spider (Cupiennius salei).

1999-2001: Self-employed work in the area of presentations and marketing of eccentric scientific content, using modern and traditional methods of popular science. Developed and produced the Wissenschaftskalender (web-based science timeline) in cooperation with Austrian Broadcasting ORF, Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) and the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Science and Culture. Entered a path of excessive professional collaboration with Andreas Höller.

2001-2005: Executive with the Lomographic Society in Vienna, in charge of the development, realization and management of one of the globally more popular websites (www.lomography.com), focusing on:

  1. Building an international online community around snapshot photography.
  2. Integrating a quality online store for worldwide shipping of toy cameras. Initial and close contact with the fascinating phenomenon of an analog comeback in the age of the digital.

Since 2005: Founder and managing director of UNVERKAEUFLICH Handels GmbH, a company specialized in trading goods and services of all kinds. From the beginning, the main focus has been on high-end, design-driven creative niche products. In the meantime, the emphasis is definitely on analog instant photography, which has resulted in three major projects.

June 05: Launch of the first project: The international online store platform www.unsaleable.com specializes in a rapidly growing collection of various Polaroid cameras and films, above all the legendary SX-70 model and a choice of specialist film types. This store is where many avid photographers get the opportunity to finally get hold of Polaroid films again.

Sept. 05: Launch of the second project, the worldwide online Polaroid community: www.polanoid.net. Here is where Polaroid lovers from all around the world come together to share thoughts and pictures, all driven by their fascination for analog instant photography. Regular competitions, exhibitions, ... have become a standard feature of this project.

April 06: Launch of the third project: World premiere for the first gallery exclusively dedicated to Polaroid: POLANOIR! An international jury selected 17 Polaroid artists from a huge number of candidates. Their best works are being published in limited, large-format Polanoir editions (47 hand-signed copies per set). In addition, the artwork originals are sold during weekly online auctions.

Andreas Höller (pseudonym: WebMeister)

communities : Polanoir

1967: Born in Vienna

1995: Graduated from university in biology studies, diploma thesis on a mechanical sensory organ of a South American hunting spider (Cupiennius salei).

Freelance programmer during university studies.

1996: Civilian service (in lieu of military service) with the Austrian Red Cross.

While there, programmer of the freeware utility RUNit which received many awards.

1997-1999: Tech director and chief programmer with the Black and Blue design agency. Implemented a number of international websites (Philips, among others) and discovered the fascination with art content and its presentation. One of the first major projects: realization of interactive CD-ROMs for Austrian artists Oliver Feistmantl and Johannes Deutsch (for IBM).

2000: Entered a path of excessive professional collaboration with Florian Kaps. Implemented Florian's brain child, the Wissenschaftskalender (web-based science timeline), as commissioned by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Science and Culture. Final decision to soldier on in Internet programming.

2001-2005: Programmer with the Lomographic Society. Initially freelance, implemented the legendary Pension Elf developed by Florian Kaps (programmed the so-far most powerful Shockwave 3D engine which caused a stir in expert circles). Later, employed as chief programmer and tech director of the Internet department. Solely responsible for the complete re-programming of the online store and the community platform www.lomography.com which boasts over ten thousand members. At the same time, completed a total system conversion from proprietary Java/Oracle to a more powerful, modular, open, easy to maintain and to expand php/MySQL system.

Since 2005: In collaboration with Florian Kaps, founder and managing director of UNVERKAEUFLICH Handels GmbH. Chief programmer and tech director.

First, implemented the online store platform www.unsaleable.com (based on self-developed online store software which integrates with warehouse management and interfaces with accounting). Immediately followed by the steadily growing Polaroid community platform www.polanoid.net and most recently, in spring 2006, by the launch of the online gallery www.polanoir.com.

Always adhering to a principle of commitment to provide powerful, functional websites which draw on the latest technology and which ensure maximum browser compatibility.


Florian Kaps, Andreas Höller

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Polanoir online:

The magic of Polaroid


Polanoir


It all began in the autumn of 2004, when we happened to get hold of this peculiar and mysterious toy. Charmingly bulky and emitting a strange odor, it came with a lettering which somehow made us reminisce of times when we were permanently haunted by tight-fitting turtlenecks made of flashy, yellow, scratchy plastic fiber. The label read POLAROID - and it instantly made us view these past times in an entirely different light.

Love at first shot!

The more of the various knobs we would turn with our curious fingers, cautiously trying to figure out how this plastic cabinet - oddly named SUPERSHOOTER - was meant to function as a camera, the more we became certain that we would leave no stone unturned before we managed to draw its secrets, its pictures! from it.

And this is how we delved deeply into Polaroid for the first time: An intriguing number of different film types and formats, along with the most inconsistent information as to their availability. With courage born of despair, we finally got in touch with a US store and ordered 2 absurdly expensive packages of film cryptically labeled 669. 2 weeks went by until our doorbell rang and our mailwoman - cheerful as ever - would hand us the much-longed-for material.

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Had the film not fitted the camera, our lives probably would have taken an entirely different course. For sure we, too, would have lost all sense of the analog and would have gone on to buy the latest make of an even flatter, mega-pixel, anti-blur, steady-shot digital camera every other six months. The SUPERSHOOTER would have ended up among all our other dusty toys and we may even have returned to our careers in neurophysiology. Sheer madness!

But the films went in smoothly. And all that followed took our hearts by storm and had us discovering our passion for the analog.

We were enthusiastic from the first moment. The mechanical noise produced by the shutter release, the sight of our own hands while pulling each picture - numbered in tiny print - out of the camera, the small and charming egg timer on the back of the device counting down the processing time for every picture, the nearly unbearable tension when cautiously pulling apart the layers, the slightly acidic smell of the mysterious paste which seemed to be magnetically attracted to our hands, and the picture itself, analog beyond description, with its own colors, its grain and its characteristic margin, and even being aware that each and every one of these pictures cost us a small fortune, all that instantly made us realize: Analog instant imaging is alive and kicking! And somewhat later, with all the 20 pictures in front of us, half of which we had tenderly developed in our armpits at body temperature, using the so-called COLDCLIP tool (two metal plates which Polaroid ships with its cameras), our minds were set: It was high time Polaroid made a comeback.

The magic of Polaroid

Today, almost 2 years later, the initial appeal has turned into a committed relationship full of passion and reverence. What we revere most is Edwin Land's brilliant inventive talent, his visions, and his masterpiece, the SX-70 - to us, still the most beautiful and revolutionary camera of all times. We also revere the love and care which for over 30 years has gone into the development, testing and presentations of Polaroid products, and also Paul Giambarba, brand and packaging designer with Polaroid and winner of many awards, who, during the 70s, turned Polaroid into a design-driven cult product for the masses, perhaps setting the scene for today's Apple products.

But it took some time to realize something else: Today as then, the true reason why Polaroid has remained a cult with an enormous potential to put a spell on people is the mysterious, almost magical power the pictures radiate.

It almost seems as though Polaroids manage to capture the mood of a moment and preserve it in a highly sensitive and authentic way. Since the photograph becomes part of the captured moment by instantly appearing from within the camera, the picture and the scene merge in a way. Additionally, the individual elegance of the photograph underpins what gives the impression of a seemingly effortless and transparent perception and perpetuation of moods and hardly noticeable nuances, which in real life remain hidden from the eye of the beholder.

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Polaroids tell stories in a unique way. Stories so intense and intimate, that they trigger a sensation of "being there" (again) in the photographer and in others who may be viewing the picture. Led by coincidence. Unpredictable. Quite often they are like memories of a dream perhaps never dreamt, confusingly real and at the same time intriguingly unsettling.

But above all, Polaroids are alluring, enigmatic and - stirringly erotic. They are the true historic pioneers of private erotic photography: sensual intuition, safely sheltered, without delay or annoying technical hassle. A secret, in part almost exhibitionistic visual door to hidden realms of the ego which has opened up and which remains unlocked.

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Polaroids are originals; just as unique as paintings. This characteristic makes them different from all other products of photography. It also makes them sincere, incorruptible and authentic.

Polaroids epitomize the essence of analog photography. By being what they are, they may also be considered a materialization all the drawbacks involved. Yet Polaroids ultimately manage to convert such handicaps into a mixture of breathtaking attractants, familiar and tangible, beyond comparison with anything else. Each picture is an original: unique and genuine, and threatened by the prophecy of extinction by the pixeled threat of an ever more digitalized world.

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Polaroid comes in a wonderful multitude of shapes and faces. Countless cameras and films were developed in the course of years. A zillion of creative techniques has been devised. The spectrum spans from small colorful photo decals, hardly larger than a fingernail, to the world-famous 60x80 cm Polaroids produced by a huge, hand-crafted wooden camera. Polaroid stands both for professional photography for the most demanding of artists, and for the coarse-grained snapshot of the much-loved in-laws' golden wedding.

Therefore it is hardly surprising that analog instant photography has so easily managed to retain and - during the last months in particular! - regain much of its appeal and charm, even after all these years, in a world of relentless digital craze.

The mission

We admit to being driven by an ever-growing love for the Polaroid medium and the possibilities it opens up. That said, we wish nothing more than to achieve one thing with all our activities: spark curiosity!

Curiosity for pictures, the sight of which conveys all their merits and their mystic magic in a much more direct and intense way than our words ever will.

This is why a year ago we began to collect as many Polaroids as we could, which we went on to present and make available around the globe. Obviously, the Internet is the perfect platform for such an undertaking, and day after day, hundreds of new instant images were uploaded and presented on POLANOID by hundreds of established and amateur photographers from all around the world.

At regular intervals, an international jury browsed this rapidly growing universe of images to select but a few of the best Polaroids which then became part of our POLANOIR project, a range of small and select editions. Collectors from all over the world who, like ourselves, have fallen for their fascination with Polaroids now have the opportunity to discover images which will stir their blood and make their analog hearts beat faster than ever.

Last but not least we offer a broad range of the finest Polaroid cameras and film in our UNSALEABLE online shop.

The Essence:

Polanoid.net - bringing back the instant fun

It does not come as a surprise that, as of present, many glossy magazines, advertising agencies and photography aficionados cannot elude the distinctive aesthetics of a Polaroid picture. The flood of millions upon millions of digital images, abandoned on all sorts of storage media, permanently accused of manipulation and prone to instant oblivion, make us yearn for those spontaneous, immediate and intimate images still magically produced by traditional Polaroid cameras.

Many of us still - or more than ever - love the sensual experience of being presented with a genuine picture immediately after the shutter release has been pressed; to smell it, to almost taste it, and above all, to be able to hold it in one's hands right away. It is simply something you can feel.

The big moment for this ever-growing fan base came in September 2005: www.polanoid.net went online. A website exclusively dedicated to becoming the new and modern home of this world's Polaroid photography. It is meant to be a space for Polanoids (= Polaroid enthusiasts) to share their ideas, their latest works, techniques and projects and, above all, to get involved in all the fun of instant photography together with other birds of a feather.

By now, the site is home to almost 2,000 Polanoids, more than 25,000 Polaroid pictures, and tons of projects, which has made it an inspiring symbol of the unique and lasting power of worldwide instant photography.

It is most probably the biggest comeback that the world of photography has ever witnessed.

Polanoir.com - the most instant gallery ever

In the past years, various galleries adopted a new concept and quickly established themselves in the art scene. This concept no longer centers on large-format unique prints or micro-editions of works, some of which go for horrendous prices. Rather than that, this approach focuses on editions which make the works affordable for amateur collectors and art enthusiasts.

Polanoir has embraced this idea and developed an own concept, which goes even a bit further. On the one hand, limited editions of 47 prints are produced, based on an artist's original (the Polaroid) and on offer for sale at a fixed price in the form of hand-signed original photographs. On the other hand - and this is where Polanoir is different from above-mentioned galleries - selected originals are offered for sale in the form of one-off auctions as well. In such cases the buyer not only receives the original, but also one edition copy.

Finally, the 6th of April 2006 was to become the birth-hour of polanoir.com, and from this point on, the site not only began offering exquisite prints of Polaroid originals - the so called Polaroid Limited Editions - but also many Polaroid originals, all attractively priced.

Unsaleable.com - carefully selected Polaroid tools

Simply everything for your instant satisfaction. We carefully selected and collected the most slamming Polaroid products of the past and present and maybe most important of all we are offering a wide range of Polaroid films at prices that are re-introducing the fun factor.

Refurbished Sx-70 cameras, original SX-70 film, hard-to-get limited editions and collector items, Worldwide delivery.

Polanoir

The idea

The community site polanoid.net has given the Polaroid phenomenon the fresh kick start it has long been waiting for. This revival has been imminent for years, not least because of the lasting popularity of Polaroids in contemporary art. All those established photographers and Polaroid enthusiasts, who (being registered users of polanoid.net) keep recreating this overwhelming flush of images time and again, are a living proof of a truly vibrant scene.

Seeing what was happening, we considered it almost an obligation on our part to offer these artist a small, yet sleek platform where they could publicly offer their best works for sale.

Finally, the 6th of April 2006 was to become the birth-hour of polanoir.com, and from this point on, the site not only began offering exquisite prints of Polaroid originals - the so called Polaroid Limited Editions - but also many Polaroid originals, all attractively priced.

Polanoir Limited Editions

During the last years in particular, a few galleries from all over the world (both offline and online) have proved that presenting contemporary art in an attractive way to a broad public, and offering it for sale at moderate prices, while promoting the overall fun of collecting art, is something that can be done.

Driven by their fascination with instant photography and their unique pool of resources, Polanoir now adopted this exciting art trade concept and brought it in line with the amazing universe of Polaroid photography. In simple terms, Polanoir represents the first innovative gallery concept which centers exclusively around the art of Polaroid.

The Polanoir-gallery features high-end Polaroid art created by established photographers and Polaroid enthusiasts. Limited editions of large-format original prints ensure that this type of art remains available at affordable prices.

Edition size: 47 copies

The Polanoir concept requires that an exact limit is set for each edition. Nothing would have been more obvious here than to salute the heritage of Edwin H. Land again. In 1947, he presented his invention, instant imaging, to the Optical Society of America. In view of this historical moment, we did not think twice but made an agreement with all involved artists to fix the edition size at 47. With this limit of 47 copies every buyer can rest assured that there will be a maximum of 46 other people with the same picture on their walls.

Hand-signed and numbered

Each individual edition copy is hand-signed by the artist and issued with an edition number.

Format and editions

Together with the artists, Polanoir made a decision to limit the format of the enlarged copies to one fixed size per edition. And the editions must follow the originals in every respect, which means that it will always be the entire Polaroid picture, with the margin included, to be used as the reproduction master copy.

The claim to authenticity

Time and again, and for just reasons, the artists, Polanoir and the photo lab would engage in intense discussions as to what constitutes a vital part of a picture and what is just a dust particle, an errant fingerprint or an unwanted scratch. Not once did we have to repeat scans until the artist would give his or her final approval for the production of an edition.

Genuine photo prints

Together with cyberlab, our hi-tech photo lab partner, we found a way to reproduce the Polaroid originals to top-notch quality, using photographic means. Each and every edition copy is an advanced quality photo print - a so called Lambda Print - printed on Fujicolor Crystal Archive paper.

Lambda prints

Polanoir editions are produced with a Durst Lambda printer, using the data to expose conventional photographic paper which is then chemically developed. Today, Lambda photo printers are established state-of-the-art technology which stands for quality prints at affordable prices. Among artists, this method of photographic development has been very popular for many years.

The particulars: Three precision lasers guarantee areas without a raster and smooth gradients. The files are output onto the paper with absolute sharpness and in fully saturated colors, accurate down to the last detail. This photo printer handles formats up to a width of 127 cm and a length of 50 meters.

The Fujicolor Crystal Archive paper

Upon consultations with cyberlab, Polanoir has opted for the standard-analog type of this color photographic paper. It has a glossy surface and ensures true optimum quality color prints. This paper renders brilliant, vivid colors which remain vibrant under ambient light exposure for an exceptionally long time. Accordingly, an excellent archival and color stability is guaranteed.

Singularity plus appreciation potential

Unless otherwise indicated with a presented picture, all editions are exclusively available from Polanoir.

Once an entire edition has been sold, each copy basically begins to bear a considerable appreciation potential and may create a strong demand on the market. This way, the purchase of such a piece of art has an additional and appealing element to it.

The Polanoir mounting

Polanoir offers two options of buying an edition copy. One of them is to purchase the print as-is, the other one is to opt for a laminated mount - an alternative to the traditional frame.

This second option means that the picture will be laminated onto a "Dibond" aluminum composite panel of identical size. The 3 mm Dibond composite used here consists of two aluminum layers and a polyethylene core, which makes it lightweight, highly rigid and perfectly flat. The lamination process itself is done using double-sided adhesive foil and a huge roller press which exerts perfectly balanced pressure over the entire width of the laminated material. First the adhesive foil is applied to the edition copy and after that, it is mounted longitudinally onto the panel. This process requires a lot of care and precision to prevent dust and dirt from getting caught in the mount and spoiling it.

The ready mounted picture comes with a spacer profile and a hanger, both made of aluminum as well. Once the picture has been hung up on a wall, the space between the mount and the wall will create distinctive, three-dimensional effects with appropriate lighting.

Lightning-fast order processing

Perfect cooperation between Polanoir and its partners allows shipping within 7-10 days after receipt of an order.

Polanoir originals

In agreement with the artists, and as opposed to other galleries, Polanoir is able to offer something very unique: the edition's Polaroid original. The unique artwork. Without any doubt, each and every instant image offered through this platform is something very special. It represents singularity and authenticity. To do justice to this observation, Polanoir offers these originals in special online auctions, where not only the original in an elegant frame is offered for public sale, but along with it, one edition copy as well.

The partners

Cyberlab - brilliance, with a heart

After detailed benchmarking, Polanoir knew it all. Following weeks of various tests in different labs and many reviewed questions of detail, a cooperation with cyberlab, the hi-tech photo lab in Vienna (www.cyberlab.at), came about. The reason was not just the equipment they use which is, of course, top-notch, but also their staff who take great care that every Polanoir order is processed with utmost diligence, precision and skill.

Florian Kaps, Andreas Höller