Eight years ago, The Impossible Project took over the former Polaroid factory in the Netherlands. A successful resurrection of analog photography by any measure, the company is about to release its first instant camera, the I-1. The idea is to reinvent the analog instant photograph for the digital age with a companion iOS app.
Coinciding with this release is Project 8, which The Impossible Project describes as, "the biggest analog photo swap in history." Anyone who has their hands on an I-1 camera can join in the exchange of photos with the likes of Jack White, Ellen von Unwerth, fashion designer Anthony Vaccarello, and others.
“Project 8 showcases what you can do with the Impossible I-1 camera, which gives instant photographers more control over their exposures than ever before,” The Impossible Project announced last week. “The I-1’s uniquely designed ring flash is perfect for portraits, while its companion iOS App allows access to manual controls and creative techniques to experiment with.”
“In an age of endless digital reproductions, Project 8 celebrates what makes analog special,” they added. “Each photo is a unique physical object that creates a tangible connection between strangers, brought together by their love of instant photography.”
The launch of Project 8 took place this spring, with The Impossible Project inviting makers from different fields—renowned photographers, artists, musicians, and designers—to take photos with the I-1. These makers could choose from eight themes for inspiration.
New York-based photographer Jake Chessum shot his photos on vacation in Barbados. While he took photos of the trip on his phone, he also used the I-1 to create a physical manifestation of his images.
“Pictures on a phone are great but they don't have the same charm or physicality,” he tells The Creators Project. “Pictures taken on a film camera can't be developed until later. So that's why I love having instant film in the mix when I am out taking pictures.”
Photographer and collage artist Andrew Millar, who has taken some beautiful gold leaf Polaroids, had a completely different approach.
“I selected images from magazines dating from the 60s and 70s to form collages and overlays using halftone layers normally used for screen printing,” says Millar. “Using old techniques with modern day materials inspired by the past, this combination seemed to fit well.”
Project 8 is now opening this opportunity to anyone with an I-1 camera. Participants work off of the same eight prompts, then send the photos to Impossible’s Berlin creative headquarters. All submissions will join a global gallery show alongside the commissioned makers. After the exhibition, Impossible will physically swap all the photos between all participants. Each person will give away a photo they made, and in return they will get someone else’s photo via mail.
“In an age of endless digital reproductions, Project 8 celebrates what makes analog special,” Project 9 lead Oskar Smolokowski tells The Creators Project. “It’s a creative collaboration on a global scale—each unique photo creates a tangible connection between strangers, brought together by their love of instant photography.”
“Photography using mechanical means is a beautiful art form,” says Jack White, who helped design a special run of Impossible black-and-yellow film stock. “Digital pictures are very portable and easy to make happen, but you can’t hold the photo in your hand, or put it in a family album. There’s a romantic feeling of pulling a photograph out of a polaroid camera, holding it your hands and showing it to others. It can’t be replaced or replicated.”
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