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Writings and Rants

Polaroid Roots


Polaroid Roots

SX-70 Polaroid Sonar

In 1978 while liv­ing in Den­ver I needed a cam­era and so I bought my first SX-70 Polaroid Sonar at Gart Broth­ers Sport­ing Goods. I quickly became entranced by the instant grat­i­fi­ca­tion and started exper­i­ment­ing with manip­u­lat­ing the images as they developed.

Over the years I began hand col­or­ing and paint­ing on the images using per­ma­nent marker pens as well as shoot­ing in the stu­dio with it. I shot thou­sands of images. SX-70 Polaroid art was really my only fine art medium for a good 20 years until about 1998.

I had some com­mer­cial and gallery suc­cess in some shows and with my work being accepted into the Inter­na­tional Polaroid Col­lec­tion, which resulted in a tour­ing show called “Amer­i­can Per­spec­tives” and included the likes of Andy Warhol, David Hock­ney, Chuck Close, and Joyce Ten­neson. But even­tu­ally I became tired of it the SX70 as I felt it was some­what lim­ited and I noticed a lot of the new­com­ers to medium were cre­at­ing work which looked too much alike for my taste. Not to men­tion the fact that film was expen­sive and even­tu­ally dis­ap­peared (the 600 film just ain’t the same!).

So I turned to photo dig­i­tal art com­bin­ing my skills as a pho­tog­ra­pher and artist result­ing in my new works which I find more entic­ing and more fun than ever, and allowed much more cre­ative con­trol and options.

Peo­ple look at my new dig­i­tal work and ask if it is “Polaroid Art”. This is very grat­i­fy­ing to me and makes me smile because Polaroid is in my roots and I’m happy that peo­ple really see the connection.

Today almost 25 years later peo­ple are re-discovering Polaroid SX70as if it is a “new” medium. Some things just never die!

Emmanuel Karabetis