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Monday, 22 March 2021


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Edwin Land was a scientist and prolific inventor in: optics, color vision and instant photography. He earned a total of 535 Patents.

I recommend Peter C. Wensberg's book: Land's Polaroid: A Company and the Man Who Invented It. It is out-of-print but used copies are still available.

Well, Steve Jobs said meeting Edwin Land "was like visiting a Shrine"

It is not an accident that both men operated at the intersection of Art, Business, and Technology, and both were consummate showmen.
A very powerful combination.

So what happened next? Sony Beta totally killed Polavision's instant 8mm film. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtIDK1Uj5pA

We called the instant photos and the camera Polaroids or a Polaroid. Much like a generation or two earlier when cameras and photographs were called, "Kodaks". Or so I've read.

It's sad because that factory would return again to that state once Polaroid disappeared, and not just the cameras and the film but the factory and the know-how that produced them. The new Polaroid cannot replicate what Land did despite plenty of funding and some of the original hardware. Type 55, to take one example, was a kind of miracle. Yes, consumers seem to have benefitted from the digital wallet (Land's analogy is more apt since having access to the cash inside is really the whole point of the exercise) but I'm not convinced that the new substrate has been a boon to artists - and the promise of an advanced technological future has been mostly a dud (the attention economy, with its ubiquitous screens, encouraging a deeper connection with fantasy is surely a part of this narrative). Lastly, that faded film, reduced to its reds, can't help but remind one of Land's Retinex theory.

This is a great book about Edwin Land and the Polaroid Corporation--he was one of Steve Jobs idols and Polaroid was a company he clearly modeled Apple after.

Land's concept of the perfect consumer camera is still valid. It's convenience, convenience, convenience.

Only denizens of fora think that there are hordes of phone-photographers looking to step-up to ILCs. The vast majority of phoneographers are stepping-up to the next iteration of convenient smartphones.

Reminds me of Rod Serling. Genius.

There's an exceptionally pleasurable and mesmerizing film about Land, Polaroid, and some aficionados trying to keep it all alive. It's called 'Instant Dreams'. Parts of the 'Long walk' video are incorporated, too.

I watched it on Kanopy, but it's also available on prime video.



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