Monday, December 31, 2018

In an Instant: Polaroid At the Intersection of Art and Technology

I recently met up with a good friend whose boyfriend was very into polaroids. I always had the impression that polaroids were the same as instaxes but had this misconception roundly thrown into the bin. He showed us his polaroid cameras (and how to use them) and they were fascinating.

To learn more about polaroids, we headed to the National Museum. It costs $12.50 for adults (Singapore citizens and PRs)- more price categories available at the link above.

1. Edwin Land- Scientist, Inventor, Visionary

The first part of the exhibition introduced Edwin Land, an American scientist and inventor, who is best known as the co-founder of the Polaroid Corporation.

As to how the Polaroid came about, the story goes that he was on vacation with his family in Santa Fe, when he took along his camera to take a few pictures. His 3-year-old daughter asked, "Why can't I see the picture now?" And that was the inspiration behind Land's invention.

You would also come across the Polaroid Cinema: The Fishbowl Experiment.

When you first enter the room, you will see that the screen is white. However, once you put on a pair of Polaroid sunglasses, the images on the screen magically appear. The Fishbowl is a short movie about how Edwin Land fine tunes his invention, the polarizing filter.

2. Polaroid: Art and Technology at Play

Besides exhibiting a range of Polaroid cameras (and some prototypes as well), you will also get to see Polaroid artworks produced during the height of the Polaroid's popularity.

3. The New Instant

The last part of the exhibition is where the curator tries to tie in the Polaroid theme with something relatable- that of the experience of Singapore social influencers navigating through this digital world of instant feeds, uploads and hashtags.

Thoughts about the exhibition 

While the premise of the exhibition is interesting, I felt that it did not live up to its full potential. Granted that there were polaroids taken by superstars like Andy Warhol, I didn't feel like I got much information out of most of the polaroids.

While the last part of the exhibition involves interviews with social influencers, I felt that the link was rather tenuous. Yes, I see the link between the two- the instantaneous factor. But I wished the interviews could be with people who had a closer connection to Polaroids.

At the end of the exhibition, you can go into a photobooth where you get to take pictures with Polaroid sunglasses and send these pictures to your email. You can also get a physical picture taken at a token sum. If you are interested in the Polaroid eyewear or wish to buy a book about Polaroids, they are also available at the museum shop.

In an Instant: Polaroid at the Intersection of Art and Technology 
National Museum of Singapore
93 Stamford Road
Singapore 178897