New Instant Film for Polaroid Cameras Unveiled

March 22, 2010
By Conor Risch

The Impossible Project
Photo Credit: © Jake Chessum/The Impossible Collection
An image made by Jake Chessum using the new PX100 integrated film pack.
The Impossible Project, the Eschede, Netherlands-based group that is reviving analog instant film for Polaroid cameras, announced at a press conference this morning in New York that their first new instant film packs will go on sale this Thursday, March 25, in their online store. The film packs, which hold 8 instant pictures, will retail for $21. The Impossible Project will start shipping its first instant film packs to customers a week from today.

The first film packs available, the PX 100 Silver Shade/First Flush, are manufactured for use with Polaroid SX-70 cameras and produce a sepia tone. The PX 600 Silver Shade/First Flush, designed for use with Polaroid 600 cameras, which produces a truer black and white image, will also be available online in the coming weeks. The films will also be available at select retailers in the U.S., Europe and Asia, and at The Impossible Project store in Berlin.

During the press conference, Dr. Florian Kaps, the group’s founder and head of marketing, noted that although the PX 100 and PX 600 were manufactured with specific Polaroid camera models in mind, the film packs use a universal cartridge that will allow photographers to mix and match films and cameras.

Kaps opened a pack of PX 100 for the audience and snapped a photograph of André Bosman, a co-founder and head of research and production, who had earlier explained the technical challenges of the group’s work. As the picture slid out of Kaps’s SX-70 he noted that the image began its development with a bright blue color—an indication that the group had produced a new film that was constructed completely differently from Polaroid instant films, and that would have completely different characteristics.

Like Polaroid instant film, however, which went out of production in mid-2008, The PX instant film can be manipulated, and artists can also use the new film to create transfers. Kaps noted that the group plans to produce films in different “flavors,” and that rather than an expiration date, the films would carry a date of production, like wine, because the film changes characteristics as it ages. The “First Flush” edition of the film borrows its name from tea terminology, the first flush of the season referring to the first picking of tealeaves.

Kaps said the group is planning to introduce their first color film packs this summer, and have a goal of producing 1 million instant film packs by the end of the year. Kaps projected they would grow total production to 3 million next year, and between 10-15 million packs per year in the near future. To put the group’s plans in perspective, Bosman noted that when Polaroid ceased production of instant film in mid-2008, they had produced nearly 30 million instant film packs in half a year.

Marwan Saba, a co-founder and head of finance and administration, said that the group had invested 2.3 million Euros ($3.1 million US) to develop the new film, which required the creation of 29 new layers and a mixture of 13 new chemicals to achieve.

Representatives of the Summit Global Group, who now own the Polaroid brand, were in attendance, and plans exist for Polaroid to produce new instant film cameras this year as well. However, Kaps noted that an estimated 300 million working Polaroid cameras still exist.

In front of a wall full of framed instant photographs and enlargements produced recently by a selection of artists from the United States and Europe, Kaps also spoke about the establishment of a new instant film art collection, dubbed “The Impossible Collection,” that would be much like The Polaroid Collections once owned by Polaroid, parts of which are now set for auction this summer at Sotheby’s as part of their bankruptcy proceedings. 40 artists were selected to test the new film, and their work will become part of the new collection. Kaps also announced that the group had submitted an offer to purchase the International Polaroid Collection, which is currently held by the Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne.

Related: The Crusade to Reinvent Polaroid

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