When The Impossible Project launched the new i-1 instant camera, Oskar Smolokowski, the company’s new 26-year-old CEO mentioned: “We didn’t want to rely on nostalgia – we believe that an instant camera rightfully belongs in 2016” (Huffington Post 13/05/16), which seems to be in line with the path other photographic companies are taking right now, with Lomo and Leica launching new instant cameras.
We might want to believe that this has to do only with market strategies, with companies seeing a phenomenon in the rise (with the revival of Polaroid and analogue media in general) and wanting a bite of it, but I believe we should also be thinking beyond this. Not because the market puts something ‘out there’ it means that it is going to sell (naive, maybe). There has to be a bigger reason why instant photography is appealing younger generations, digital generations.
My guess, instant photography has an important resemblance with digital photography: they are both instant (instantaneously satisfactory), and they both allow for the picture to be circulated around, let it be on social media or in people’s hands. Thus, instant photography seems to be the perfect combination for a generation that its used to having instant results (and never really knew the wait behind sending film rolls to the lab), and immediate peer response (seen in social media).
Having this in mind, Polaroid photography (Edwin Land’s ahead-of-its time-invention) seems perfectly appropriate and appealing for a generation that is mostly impatient and socially engaged (via social media), too impatient to use negative-based formats, but materially engaged enough to use instant film.
The bigger picture is, what questions does this rise both to analogue revivals and to media temporality and obsolescence. Can analogue technologies rightfully belong in the digital era? and if so, what do this tells us about the unfulfilled promise of the digital turn?