Whilst we were in New York last October (gosh has it been that long already?), we took the opportunity to visit the Impossible Project. A lot of us would still have fond memories of taking Polaroids and eagerly and often impatiently waiting for the image to appear like magic on that little rectangular piece of film. And then somehow, as 35mm film took off in popularity, our Polaroid cameras fell into disuse and made way for the newer, cheaper technology. And sadly Polaroid stopped making their iconic instant film altogether in February 2008. Since then, the Impossible Project has been trying to recreate the film for those great old-school cameras which hasn’t been easy as the chemical “recipe” behind the film has essentially been lost. As they have had to almost rediscover or reinvent the process from scratch there have been a few glitches with initial batches of imperfect and unpredictable film. Persistence seems to have paid off as their last production of film has been relatively successful, producing results similar to the original Polaroid film! Having heard good reviews about this recent development and also being longtime devotees, we just had to find the store to get our eager little hands on this new and improved film. We are proud owners of two very different Polaroid cameras – an SX-70 from the 1970s and a one600 belonging to the last run of new cameras ever made by Polaroid in 2006.
So begins the hunt – the hunt for the Impossible Project New York.
Now the store is located in SoHo, one of the best shopping districts in New York (or dare I say, the world…!?!? My suitcase and wallet would certainly testify to that!) so getting to the store itself was pretty tricky, requiring one to run the gauntlet of many pretty shops singing our names like irresistible sirens. I can’t say we got through unscathed and we may or may not have made a number of retail detours until finding ourselves at the correct address. But what we found was not what we expected – it looked like a block of apartments. Dodgy-looking apartments.
Do we? Don’t we? Do we? Don’t we? We ummed and ahhed for a while outside, trying not to look too dodgy ourselves.
We finally decided, what the hey what’s the worse that could happen, besides we’ll never see these people again if we make complete fools of ourselves, and pressed the doorbell. The door clicked open and we entered a rather rickety-looking elevator. It rose slowly and we could actually see little glimpses of what looked like people’s apartments. Hmm, bad idea, we’re about to enter someone’s private abode. Should we pretend like we know them? Or just come straight out and apologise for the mistake?
We reached our destination and opened the door, somewhat gingerly.
What greeted us was one of the coolest artistic spaces in New York. Wall to wall framed art, film boxes galore, a bazillion (at least) Polaroid cameras of varying types. Dizzy with excitement at the fact of actually being in THE Impossible Project, we walked around the store several times, essentially doing victory laps, before caving in and buying 10 or so boxes of film!
You can buy Impossible Project film in Perth from the Ruck Rover General Store in Northbridge and Pigeonhole at various locations around Perth CBD. Check out The Impossible Project themselves online – they even sell refurbished Polaroid cameras!
Click here to see what happened on the other side of this Polaroid I took of Steven Chew during our photo shoot a couple of weekends ago!