Legendary artist Joyce Tenneson recounts her look back at the Polaroid 20×24 images she created from the late 80’s through the early 2000’s. Exploring her archive once again has revealed images not chosen at the time of creation but that now have special meaning to her after this passage of time. These images will be collected in a new book and in an exhibit at Dowling Walsh Gallery at 365 Main Street, Rockland, Maine in July of 2016. John Reuter, who worked with Joyce to produce the images on the 20×24 camera interviews her for this intimate look at the “Unseen Polaroids”.
The 20×24 Studio announced this week that it will be ending production operations at the end of 2017. The company has been operating with film stock purchased in 2009 from Polaroid Corporation as it exited the film business. Executive Director John Reuter, who began working for Polaroid in 1978 stated that “our original business plan was for five years with the inventory purchased and for a variety of reasons we have not worked through the material. Instant film will not last forever and despite storing the film stock in cold storage and mixing the chemical reagent only as needed the studio projects that they can maintain the quality for two more years.”
“Our hope now is that we can work on some great projects with many of our legacy clients as well as new artists who have yet to experience the ultimate in instant analog image making,” says Reuter. The Polaroid 20×24 camera stands apart from all other large format experiences because it delivers an instant finished photograph. The artist is able to react to the subject matter in a manner unlike any other photographic experience. Digital technology may rival it in resolution and instant playback but it cannot match the experience of having the final complete artwork on the wall in ninety seconds for all to see.
The team of John Reuter, Nafis Azad and Ted McLelland has worked together for nearly ten years to provide access to this venerable technology. Together the three of them are working to produce the finished product that over a dozen people once accomplished at Polaroid. Azad and Reuter are also the film crew, operating cameras and lighting in New York, Miami and on location anywhere in the US.
In addition there are cameras in San Francisco and Dusseldorf, Germany. To learn more about renting one of these cameras while the film lasts contact the 20×24 Studio at email@example.com.
In 1987 Polaroid sent John Reuter and the 20×24 camera to Miami to work with renowned multi-media artist Robert Rauschenberg. Rauschenberg had used photography extensively as collage material in his own paintings but was not known as a photographer. Rauschenberg had many ideas for location shoot images and at a pre-shoot dinner he described to Reuter what kind of situations he would like to put the camera in. Reuter would diplomatically counter with the physical restrictions and limitations of the 235 pound camera in outdoor location scenarios. After the fourth or fifth qualification from Reuter, Rauschenberg proclaimed in exasperation “why, it sounds like this camera is made out of string and cardboard!” ” Not quite”, Reuter replied and the next few days the camera travelled the streets of Miami capturing the grit and strange beauty as only Rauschenberg could see it. As they were working Reuter described a film he did not bring to Miami as it was not requested. That film was Polapan 400, a Type 52 equivalent that required a print coater and so was not suitable for outdoor location work. Reuter told Rauschenberg how this film had to have the coater painted on with a foam paint brush or the silver would bleach away. Rauschenberg immediately got the idea to partially apply coater to the image and allow the bleaching process to alter the image. They would meet again in the New York studio in 1988 and Rauschenberg brought many of his favorite black and white images to re-photograph. They decided to make some single panel enlargements and some much bigger multi panel enlargements. Rauschenberg applied the coater solution to the images in the studio in a unique Rauschenbergian way. The images were sent to his studio in Captiva, Florida and subjected to all of the elements Rauschenberg could throw at them, sun, brushes, bleach, and high pressure water. At the end of the process the images were mounted on steel panels. These images were shown recently at an exhibit at Pace MacGill gallery in New York and can be seen in a book on Rauschenberg’s art by Phaidon.
Camera Ready is a documentary film about the origins and history of the Polaroid 20×24 Studio. Directed by John Reuter the film will chronicle the artists and people inside Polaroid Corporation that made the 20×24 a legendary medium. With interviews of artists, curators, museum directors and the people inside Polaroid who made it happen this film will tell the story of this amazing project. The expected release is in early 2016.
From May of 2013 through December Chuck Close has been photographing the Hollywood elite for a special Vanity Fair issue. Chuck Close describes his working method with the Polaroid 20×24 Camera, which he has used since 1977.