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The Polaroid Project

At the Intersection of Art and Technology

William A. Ewing, Barbara Hitchcock, Rebekka Reuter, Debbie Douglas, Gary Van Zante


The definitive illustrated publication on the art and science of Polaroid

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In 1943 the American inventor and scientist Edwin H. Land was asked by his daughter why she couldn’t see immediately the photograph he had just taken. Within an hour, Land had conceived of the technology required to make this seemingly impossible demand a reality. So begins the story of Polaroid instant photography, an invention that revolutionized the taking and making of pictures. But Land’s creation was more than a groundbreaking scientific accomplishment; it also heralded an exciting new chapter of artistic expression. Through the efforts of thousands of photographers the world over, as well as the corporation’s own artist support programme, which provided many with materials, Polaroid would help shape the artistic landscape of the late twentieth century – and, indeed, up to the present day.

Published to accompany a major travelling exhibition, The Polaroid Project is a creative exploration of the relationship between Polaroid’s many technological innovations and the art that was produced with their help. A wealth of illustrations showcases not only the myriad and often idiosyncratic approaches taken by such photographers as Ansel Adams, Robert Mapplethorpe, Ellen Carey and Chuck Close, but also a fascinating selection of the technical objects and artefacts that speak of the sheer ingenuity that lay behind the art. With essays by the exhibition’s curators and leading photographic writers and historians, The Polaroid Project provides a unique perspective on the Polaroid phenomenon – a technology, an art form, a convergence of both – and its enduring cultural legacy.

An Amateur Photographer Book of the Year

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'If ever there was testament to the global affection for the remarkable visionary, artistic and technological triumph that is the Polaroid, The Polaroid Project is surely it'

'Navigates gracefully between the art and science of Polaroid, and it’s absolutely thorough in its scope. This is a great book, not only for those with a love of Polaroid, but also for anyone with a keen interest in the history of photography'
Amateur Photographer

'[A] comprehensive look at a type of photography that revolutionised the taking and making of pictures'
Black & White Photography

'A book where text and images are neatly balanced, and the presence of each feels as important as the other'

'The Polaroid Project itself shows us that interest in this technology and its uniquely “authentic” aesthetic is increasing.... The king is dead – long live the king!'

'If you ever wondered anything about Polaroid photography, the science or the art, then all of your questions will no doubt be answered here … you’ll probably not be able to go away from this book without feeling uplifted and inspired'

'A great book, not just for those who love Polaroid, but anyone interested in the history of photography'
Amateur Photography

'Exceptional … a triumph. Buy it!'

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 27.5 x 23.0 cm

Extent: 288 pp

Publication date: 8 June 2017

ISBN: 9780500544730

About the Author

William A. Ewing has been an author, lecturer, curator of photography and museum director for more than forty years. His many publications on photography include The Body, Landmark and Edward Burtynsky: Essential Elements, all published by Thames & Hudson.

Barbara Hitchcock is a writer, curator and the former director of Cultural Affairs at Polaroid and curator of the Polaroid Collections, Massachusetts.

List of Contributors

Rebekka Reuter, Deborah G. Douglas, Gary Van Zante, Christopher Bonanos, Todd Brandow, Peter Buse, Dennis Jelonnek, John Rohrbach

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