Po­laroid con­test aims to re­vive art world link

Com­pany seeks to in­spire artists to use Swing app Tech­nol­ogy makes images that move when touched

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Mark Brown Arts cor­re­spon­dent

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

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