why faux polaroids?

It all began with a project for Utata. The project was to create a narrative using no more than six photographs and limiting the accompanying text to 35 words or less for each photo. I chose to use faux polaroids to relate the story of After the Bombs Dropped because I thought the medium would enhance the sort of paranoid ambience I was after.

It’s a wee bit silly, I suppose, to shoot photographs using a digital SLR then manipulate them with a computer application into looking like Polaroid images. It would be easier—though more expensive—to shoot real Polaroids. But there’s something I find strangely compelling about the conversion process. Sometimes something unexpected happens in the interstitial area between what’s conceived in the mind and what appears in the image.

It’s not just a matter of re-visualizing the oblong image in the viewfinder and interpreting it into a square. It also requires one to consider the contrast and color arrangement of the scene being photographed. The “Poladroid” application that transfigures the digital image tends toward the radical weirdification of some hues. One has to consider the color balance of the scene being photographed. A scene having too much of the wrong shade of green could result in other parts of the image turning a queasy magenta. An incorrect bit of blue could spark strange greens to crawl across the surface of the faux Polaroid like some alien bacterium growing in a Petrie dish.

Sometimes, in order to get the final image you want–or think you want–the original has to be manipulated into a sort of mutant color scheme. Even then, odd things happen. The algorithm by which the “Poladroid” application selects a color scheme isn’t always consistent or reliable. I like that.

Then—as with a real Polaroid—you push the button and wait to see how it’ll turn out. Whatever the result, the short period of waiting for the image to appear and stabilize is deliciously aggravating.

That’s why I make faux Polaroids. I like that uncertain balance between control and serendipity.

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