i c h a e l . G o i n g Altered Polaroid
the process and artist statement
The process of altering a Polaroid takes an instant film medium, the Polaroid
and its companion Time Zero film beyond it's original purpose
of party and event snapshots.
I take the photograph with the Polaroid SX-70
Camera. The images are all actual instant photographs taken on location or in
the studio. They are not copies of other works/photographs. Anything that a photographer
might do in making a 'traditional' photograph from lighting, filtration, production,
etc., I do as well. The Time Zero film is a single sheet that is ejected by the
camera upon exposure and is a completely self-contained and fully develops in
about ten minutes. The emulsion, containing the image is sealed in a clear acetate
top sheet and paper backing.
After the film completely develops, I use various
tools to press on the clear acetate sheet covering the emulsion giving the image
its painterly brush like appearance. The alteration is quite time intensive to
complete the alteration before the film sets. I do the alteration wherever I am
taking the photo: on the streets, in a stadium, on the beach or my studio. The
time I have to alter varies depending on the ambient temperature. So the entire
process gets down to keeping the film warm and an adventure in getting it done
before the film sets. I've resorted to hot water bottles, a small Igloo chest
to carry them combined with always being on the look out for hot water.
it is cold outside I go into a cafe and set up or if that is not possible a heated
car. It seems my entire Polaroid life was a quest to always have hot water and
find a place to alter film. I've often worked backwards by first finding a cafe
and a hot water source close by and then shooting.
My work is instant and
this is before digital. I see the fully developed photograph minutes after I expose
the film. If I have several similiar images I need to make decisions immediately
as to which image to work because it is impossible to alter them all since it
can take up to a hour to alter just one image
To make prints of the original,
I make a 4x5 inch transparency and print from that or scan and then make a print.
before and after sample of unaltered and altered similar Polaroid-Polaroid frame
always had a relationship with the camera. First, as a child model in front of
the camera and then behind it starting with a memorable photography class in Junior
High School which eventually lead to what is now almost 40 years of image making.
My Polaroid work strikes both strong emotional chords as well as physical
responses that all go into the creation of the work. Emotional chords involving
fantasies, beauty, aloneness, nostalgia and physical responses concerning the
tactile, textural and transformation. I think there are often little back stories,
mostly just fragments, behind the photographs. I am drawn to the feel
of things. The process of manipulating the film is a very tactile process.The
emotional and the physical propel concerns with form, shape, space, light and
the ongoing pursuit of the perfect composition
The physical process
of creating my work has a particular appeal beyond the sensual textural and tactile
level of working with the film. My work is rather instant. I see the fully developed
photograph minutes after I expose the film. I then need to make decisions immediately
as to which image to alter since there is only a short period of time to complete
the alteration process. If there are several variations of the same image, I cant
alter them all so intuitive decision making is important.
Although my work
is technique driven, technique alone cant make a good photograph. The technique
cant make a weak image into a good one. I truly feel that I need to start
with a strongly composed and interesting image to transform it into an arresting
Often my photographs are literal candid documents-albeit with alteration.
I call them Impressionistic Documents I think that the emotional and
physical elements combine to create an image that on first pass has a sense of
beauty and on second pass a sense of mystery.