20×24 Studio bio picture
  • 20×24 Studio, the Home of Large Format Instant Photography

    The 20×24 Studio announced in June of 2016 that it will be ending production operations near 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 info@20x24studio.com.

Caroline Chiu: Polaroids as Chinese Ink Painting
An installation from A Chinese Wunderkammer
Snite Museum of Art
Milly and Fritz Kaeser Mestrovic Studio Gallery
March 14 to April 25, 2010


These photographs are taken from Hong Kong artist Caroline Chiu’s larger series entitled Dreaming: A Chinese Wunderkammer. Wunderkammer were 17th- and 18th-century European “wonder rooms” or “cabinets of curiosity”––some of the earliest known “museums”––which contained specimens reflecting the natural world, anthropology, archaeology, relics, and art. The late Qing emperor Qianlong, known for his passion for the arts, also pursued this type of collecting.
In Chiu’s case, she collects, by photography, objects representing the material culture of traditional China: bonsai, scholar’s rocks, flowers, artworks depicting the animal zodiac, and, here, goldfish. Her choice of subjects makes reference to historical Chinese culture; her graphic photographic images of goldfish suggest the brushstrokes of traditional Chinese ink painting and the sweeping abstract shapes of Chinese writing.
Because the images were taken with a rare 20 x 24 inch Polaroid camera—for which film is no longer manufactured––the exhibition is also an elegy to the era of Polaroid cameras and film. See the review in the South Bend Tribune.

In 2007 we were introduced to Dr. Florian Kaps by Jan Hnizdo, the owner of the 20×24 Studio in Prague, the Czech Republic. Doc, as he prefers to be known was very interested in preserving Polaroid films as it became apparent that Polaroid would be ceasing all film production by 2008. Our focus was of course the 20×24 format while Doc was interested in just about everything else. As the months proceeded and the shutdown drew near we met several times and agreed that instant materials had a future. We worked from the inside and he from the outside, and our plans were set to acquire the materials that Polaroid was abandoning. Key people within Polaroid assisted both of us and we are extremely grateful for their guidance and assistance. It was in a true Polaroid spirit. As Polaroid wound down in early 2008 we went our separate ways to work on building our separate dreams, ours to continue 20×24 production and his to take over an existing but former Polaroid factory in Enschede, the Netherlands and recreate Polaroid films with contemporary components.
Two years have passed with twists and turns that might deter all but the most determined enthusiasts.
In March of 2010 the 20×24 Film production is fully in place and producing new reagent to go with its film stock and Impossible Project releases the first of their new integral films to use with legacy SX-70 and 600 cameras. Our dreams of 2007 have now been realized. Instant imagery lives on in classic SX-70 and the monumental 20×24. We salute the Impossible Project for their creativity, determination and perseverance. The Impossible Team are: Florian Kaps, Marwan Saba, André Bosman, David Bias, Anne Bowerman, Andreas Hentschel, Lia Sáile, and Marlene Kelnreiter. Visit the Impossible Project.

Here are some of Jennifer Trausch’s personal recollections from her days on location in the South:
“It was the hottest day of our trip and we were quite run down having driven some three thousand miles in the last couple weeks. The night before my assistant, Kim, and I had worked at a Zydeco dance hall outside of Opelousas, Louisiana. We had shot late into the night until the dancers had worn themselves out. We were covered in bug bites from loading the equipment into the truck in the pitch black near railroad tracks we had only heard signs of. The day before the truck had broken down for the second time. It is hard enough to haul around a 235 pound camera, but having to move it in and out of a broken truck was yet another test of our determination. We had to get back to New York soon, and were driving northbound in Mississippi when we saw a handwritten sign for a fair and followed it, intrigued. The fairground was so small that you could walk through it in a couple of minutes. It was the middle of the afternoon and the air was heavy and the old rides were still. The location was perfect for our way of shooting; It was small enough that we could negotiate our way around with the camera but big enough that we would have a good selection of subjects to work with. I immediately gravitated toward the dunking booth; It was a simple box of water with a splintered board to sit on. Life preservers were hanging on a fence nearby just in case. I used my digital camera to make notes, circling the booth to find the best vantage point. One could only imagine who would be sitting up there later.
Read the whole story and view location photos by Kimberlee Venable
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Jennifer Trausch has been Director of Photography at the 20×24 Studio since 2003. In that time she has worked with dozens of artists, both in the studio and on location. No one knows the possibilities and limitations of the medium as well as Trausch. Known primarily as an indoor studio camera that uses high powered electronic strobes as its light source, the 20×24 camera is capable of location work. It requires a very large truck, substantial support equipment to protect and stabilize the machine outdoors, but more importantly an understanding of the camera’s capabilities and even more crucial understanding of the film’s response to rapidly changing light conditions. Trausch’s experience with the camera put her in a unique position to exploit the potential of ultra large format photography on location and minimize the disasters always awaiting the inexperienced. Leaving the powerful strobe lighting behind in the studio, Trausch instead exposed with available light, often requiring long exposures, even with the more sensitive Black and White Polaroid emulsion. One must work quickly and confidently to calculate the considerable bellows extension and stay on top of ever-changing light conditions. The technical tour de force alone makes this body of work noteworthy. More impressive are the relationships Trausch develops with her subjects, making connections that few photographers attempt to make.
Here are some of Trausch’s own words describing her project; “In my current body of work shot in the American South, I chose to put the 20×24 Polaroid Camera in active and unpredictable circumstances on the road. In doing this I am filtering out all of the traditional notions of 20×24 shooting, defining my own vision for it. Having operated the camera for seven years, I am very familiar with this handmade machine and understand how colors and light render on its film.  I am one of the few people who are not intimidated by its mass, the sheer physicality of shooting on it, and its cumbersome and awkward nature in the field. I have chosen to eschew structure in favor of a looser, more intuitive approach of finding my subject. I depict the subtle progression of a subject or environment over a long exposure. During these long exposures a subject may move, the light may change and embracing these details rather than avoiding them is how my own work differs from the typical approach to the medium.”

One of the more unique artists working with Polaroid 20×24 technology today is Ellen Carey. Ellen first began using the 20×24 in 1982 while it was housed at the Museum of Fine Arts School in Boston. Ellen’s first work was a series of self portraits, lit with colored gels and later painted with enamel paint. These evolved into another series of self portraits made in New York that combined close up portraits lit with colored gels with intricate collages of black and white graphic images.
These multiple exposures blended the abstract and narrative in compelling complexity. In the 1990s Carey moved on to produce the series of “Pulls” and “Rollbacks”. Eliminating the figure altogether, Carey created these abstract images taking full advantage of the camera as a printmaking machine. Exploiting the roll film nature of the system, Carey produced pieces sometimes seven to ten feet in length by letting the camera run beyond its usual stopping point. At times, the positive would be cut away from the negative and “rolled back” into the camera for additional exposures and developing.

Click here to see more of Ellen’s work and excerpts from the essay “Ellen Carey, Matrix to Monumental”, by Ben Lifson.
Ellen Carey, 20×24 Pulls and Rollbacks, Part 1
Ellen Carey, 20×24 Pulls and Rollbacks, Part 2
You can see more of Ellen’s work at her website: Ellen Carey Photography

You can see more of Ben Lifson’s works and writings at: Ben Lifson

Ellen Carey, 20x24 Polaroid Pulls