Now that the semester is over, it’s time for me to get back to work. Artwork, that is. The project I’ve been working on the last two years seems finished to me, or close to being finished, anyways. I don’t know how other artists work, but I tend to have wide swings in medium. This last project, the Abandoned Series, was digital. Considering the environment and the speed with which I had to photograph (unauthorized entrance? Not me, ever ever) digital was the practical choice. But I grew up on film. I like the physical nature of film. I’m feeling the need for that hands-on experience.
And guess what I found, while going through random bins in my studio? A polaroid back! Many of them, actually. I have a 545 back that I love and mourn instantaneously. I mourn because I no longer have my 4×5 camera, and because my beloved polaroid positive/negative film is no more. I loved having a positive image and a workable negative. :( So I’ve started hunting alternatives. Mostly, looking at fuji 100c film. They have 4×5 and 3×4 polaroid-compatible pack film, (which takes a different back which I also have in my closet, yippee) and The Impossible Project film. This is where I’ve spent the most of my online hours this week. They have film for a different format, and the sx70 film types. What they have done is reclaimed an old polaroid processing machine and have started experimenting with the process.
The film isn’t cheap, but they keep producing new styles of film. Some of the results are quite interesting, and they’ve been sure to keep what a lot of us polaroid lovers crave–the ability to manipulate the polaroid surface. Well, I love emulsion manipulation and transfer, so I was all set to buy the sx70…and realized I can’t find my old sx70 camera. MASS CLEANING SPREE!
I can’t find it. Forget the fact that it folds into something the size of a vcr tape that could hide virtually anywhere. Because I emptied every frickin box in my house and can’t find it. I loved that camera. And every ebay bidding war gets way out of hand quick. Some places are selling them for 300+ bucks. Ouch, especially when I remember paying 12 bucks for mine. Sigh.
This is what mine looked like. There were many versions, too. They had a sonar version, which actually is what it sounds like: a camera that focuses via sonar. Cool, eh? They also had other differences, like split image vs plain optics viewfinders, different colors, etc in about 6 different models. I did find another old land camera in my closet, a 95 Land Camera. You can actually take a hacksaw to it and modify it to fit pack film…I spent a good day researching how to do that and make sure it will properly fit newer pack film without creating light leaks. But I can’t do it. The camera is just too pretty, with its bellows and leather. Just. Can’t. Do. It. Sigh. On to the next research idea.
So. My 4×5 back isn’t terribly compatible with the new fuji film. My very newly usable sx70 has been stolen by some evil dust bunny. My 95a is too pretty and pristine to reconfigure. Which leaves me with my other back, which is hoisted on a Mamiya 600se.
It’s a huge, clunky camera, about 8×10 inches. So large that it needs a shutter trigger on the side. Of course, the holder on back doesn’t fit pack film that size. Wouldn’t that be awesome? The Impossible project also had larger 8×10 polaroid film, if I had a camera or back that could fit it. Sigh. But I just went on amazon and bought some film (for half the retail price, sweeeeet) and I will start to play with the 600SE camera again once it gets here. I’m not sure where this will lead my artwork, but I’ve decided to play with process first, then concept, for a change of pace. More updates when I start messing around with it all!