« OT: How the heck this works anyway | Main | Blog Notes: Base Plug and the Brain Trust »

Saturday, 04 October 2008


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Thanks for posting the Polaroid film. I enjoyed it.

I like the respect it shows for the viewer's intelligence. They start by mentioning Stieglitz! And aren't afraid to explain exactly how the optical system works (including a real image projected in space!) rather than falling back on buzzwords. I can't really picture anyone doing either of these things today.

I like that John Chiara is using this clumsy, archaic method of image making, yet he is so young he is talking in upspeak (when statements go up at the end so they sound like questions. "... kind of creating my own rules?"). A bit funny.

I think they never improved on the SX-70. I took some quite nice pictures with it.
Soft and muted, sure, but if you accept that as a style...

Thank you Mike, wonderful weekend entertainment - the power of technology and the extreme behavioural weirdness of an artist!

Cheers, Robin

Oh Mike, you made our saturday!
The Eames's film is an œuvre d'art.
Than you.


The SX70 film is fantastic, thanks for bringing it to attention.

2 brilliant films... thanks.

Um... Really? That promo film for the polaroid camera was like pulling teeth for me. I mean there was a level of daggy novelty value to it, but that was about it.
Sure there is some technical information presented, but for me, all it did was show exactly why this is the wrong medium for such information. It all comes is a big wave too fast and too sparsely punctuated to make sense of it. I'm sure it is fine if you are well versed in the workings of such a camera, but for the intended audience? This is then juxtaposed against big sections of nothingness.
Furthermore how is telling me it has '200 transistors and as many resistors' anything other than a marketing buzzword (or phrase). It's just meaningless technical jargon. Similarly, aspherical elements might sound like good important information from our position of knowledgeable photographers in the present... but i fail to see how it is any more inherently valid in a marketing context than "ultra mega dynamic range maximiser circuitry".

The other piece i thought was fine. Sure he is a young guy not wowing anyone with his concise verbal fluency, but really, maybe that has something to do with why he feels the need to climb into a cupboard with a lens to express himself. It wasn't an enthralling watch, but i found it markedly less tiresome than the first piece.

I wonder how much nostalgia or a lack thereof is affecting everyone's judgements.

I, too, am greatly appreciative for you bringing these to our attention. Both films, the Polaroid promotional piece in particular, are beautiful on many levels.

The SX-70 was wonderful. I was an early adopter and shot hundreds and hundreds of exposures in the 70's. I still have them all and they have held up well over the past 30+ years. I just couldn't resist seeing my pictures within minutes; no wonder I'm addicted to digital now!

I regret that the film is no longer available; it had a palette all its own.


Good stuff, first time I've seen either of those. John Chiara is great. Powers of Ten is another great short film by the Eames. Probably on Youtube. I'm still shooting Polaroid 600 in a SLR680, very similar to SX70.

Thanks for posting both videos, exspecially the SX-70 one. I still have two of them that were purchased used.
But alas, no film.
I used to do the manipulation thing with them (moving around the emulsion while it was still forming/drying).
I found that if I kept it warmer than the ambient temperature, you could extend the time you had to work in.

Here is another person's site about this:

I could then take a Macro of the resulting Polariod, and continue to a final image.

It is (apart from Kodachrome 25 & 200) the only film that I miss.


What a nice way to spend my Sunday AM. Enjoyed both and not sure about anybody else but the Simon Jeffes music (Penguin Cafe Orchestra in the John Chiara piece) was perfect. That music always, always motivates me and now I want to go make some photos. Maybe even bring the iPod along.


There was an excellent element of comedy in that Chiara flick.

I love this John Chiara...

I'd seen the Chiara video already, but never the SX70 one. What a brilliant piece! I never before fully appreciated what an amazing confluence of optical / mechanical/ electronic / chemical / human engineering inventiveness that camera system embodied. It's truly wonderful that in addition to the technical "wow" factor, some great art was also on display.

Thank you!

Thanks, Mike, especially for the SX-70 piece. I do miss that film. I shot my first SX-70 in 1972 at a Polaroid event. I worked with it, off and on, until the film was no longer available. I know I could modify my 3 SX-70s for the 600 film, but it does not manipulate like the older emulsion. Here's a link to some of my work of the past 10 years...
I'm still in mourning.

Charles and Ra Eames' short films were truly works of art. The SX-70 film was a masterpiece. It's a joy to watch. I actually think I saw this when it was new because it looks and sounds very familiar. (Polaroid was the ONLY camera and film I was using in 1970-1974/75...I was manic.) Sadly, that richly erudite but mild form of documentation and exposition might not be well-received today.

I also very much enjoyed the John Chiara piece. It, of course, was more of a first-person narrative. But I was very interested in his process and and seeing his work. I wanted to talk with him as the film progressed. So it was also a very well-done piece, although in a different and perhaps more contemporarily acceptable style.

An Addendum:

This evening I discovered that Charles and Ray Eames' short films are available as a compilation from Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0009S2K92/theonlinephot-20

They're also available as six separate volumes.

Also, if you've never sat in an original classic Eames chair your butt and back haven't lived. (http://www.hermanmiller.com/CDA/SSA/Product/0,1592,a4-c440-p47,00.html) It was first introduced in 1956 on NBC's Today show (YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfzLzOl795E) and quickly became an icon of modern ("mod") design. Yes, it's been surpassed in comfort and flexibility in the intervening 52 years but it's still pretty darn comfy (at least for typical 1950s physiques) and still manufactured!

Am I taking a flyer here to suggest the same Eames brothers were furniture designers? If so and you're into stamps, the Post Office currently has a set of stamps featuring their designs. The film is outstanding. And I found the techno tidbits utterly fascinating. The film also had a poignant quality which you just do not see anymore.

"Am I taking a flyer here to suggest the same Eames brothers were furniture designers?"

Yup, but they were husband and wife, not brothers.

Mike J.

"Yup, but they were husband and wife, not brothers."

And not to be confused with "Ray Charles" who was a...

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007