Polaroid contest aims to revive art world link
Company seeks to inspire artists to use Swing app Technology makes images that move when touched
During the 20th century, Polaroid was associated with artists including Ansel Adams, Andy Warhol and David Hockney. Now the rebooted brand is hoping to inspire a new generation of creatives.
The Silicon Valley startup Polaroid Swing will this week offer equipment, exhibition space and possible commissions to more than 200 photographers in its new artist support programme.
“Our purpose as a company is to inspire artistic expression,” said the company’s British co-founder, Tommy Stadlen. “We exist to champion artists and we take that really seriously.”
The company, which launched its Polaroid Swing app last summer, has taken the name and spirit of Polaroid and repackaged it with a mission, it says, to create a “living photograph”, a step towards something you might see in the Harry Potter movies.
“Photographs should be alive,” said Stadlen. “Why can’t you have the composition of a still and be able to see it move?”
The concept was based on humans seeing the world in “short moments, not photos or videos”. So, with a Swing photograph, you will see the wave crashing, or the eye blinking. The motion is triggered by dragging your mouse pointer across the image, or your finger across it in the case of a touchscreen.
The artist support programme is inspired by the one created by Edwin Land, Polaroid’s founder, in the mid-20th century, which gave important support to artists such as Warhol, Hockney, Robert Mapplethorpe and Robert Rauschenberg.
It was also an arrangement that was mutually beneficial, something Stadlen hopes to replicate. “Artists helped to make Polaroid a ubiquitous brand and, if we can inspire a whole generation of artists to use this medium, then it is going to be great for us, great for them,” Stadlen added.
The idea is that applicants will use the Polaroid Swing app to take pictures which they then submit through social media. The best submissions will be whittled down to a shortlist judged by a diverse panel which will include the photographer Paolo Roversi, Lord Browne, the chairman of Tate, and the supermodel Natalia Vodianova.
About 100 people in the UK, 100 in the US and more around the world will then be invited on to the programme which will involve getting a free iPhone, taking part of digital and physical exhibitions, and the possibility of brand commission work.
It is open to anyone and, of course, not every one will like it. “Some brilliant photographers totally suck at Polaroid Swing and then you get a kid who has never picked up a camera in his life and they are creating incredible art,” said Stadlen.
Others will ask whether there are not already enough photo and video apps. Stadlen said the company’s ambitions were not restricted to the digital sphere – it eventually hopes to create hardware that will bring moving photographs into the physical world.
Lord Browne, the chairman of the Tate galleries, is among judges who will chose the winning entrants in the Swing competition