Gary Blackman - In The Hand - Polaroid SX70's, 1978 - 2004
In 1972 the Polaroid Corporation released its SX-70 camera and integral print film which, within a few minutes of pressing the button and without further intervention by the photographer, created a colour print in full daylight. This astonishing process not only captured the public imagination, it also attracted seriously inclined photographers and artists who saw its potential as a means of expression. The 8cm square image, framed within a white plastic surround, and with its enamel-like surface and distinct colour quality, was in the hand a unique object to be treasured like a small icon or magically coloured daguerreotype. And curious photographers soon discovered and exploited the initial susceptibility of the image to manual manipulation.
SX-70 cameras arrived in New Zealand in 1973–4. I bought a used camera in 1978 and relished the experience of seeing a full colour image emerge within minutes before my eyes, potentially a work of art in miniature. The square format suited me. The challenge was to create imaginative images within a small compass. By 1977 SX-70 photos were being shown in photo galleries in New Zealand, and soon in one or two public galleries — in 1982 the National Art Gallery invited Janet Bayly, Zane Zusters and me to show SX-70s under the title Polaroids. Instant photography had been established as a niche medium of photography. At the end of 2003 McNamara Gallery surveyed the Polaroid SX-70 in New Zealand by exhibiting work dating from 1977 by 13 photographers in a show entitled Tracing Polaroid SX-70. This survey did not foresee the obsolescence of this form of instant photography when in 2008 Polaroid ceased making SX-70 print film 36 years after its introduction. Thus, as with other innovations in photographic technology, an era of photography has ended: the era of Polaroid SX-70 instant photography. - Gary Blackman
In The Hand - Polaroid SX70's 1978 - 2004, is Gary Blackman's sixth exhibition at Brett McDowell Gallery.