He Said/She Said: 8 x 8


Impossible are bringing the Polaroid instant picture back into fashion, and showcased their new technology at the 8 × 8 exhibition in Hoxton Gallery from Thursday February 19th to Saturday, February 21st.

Eight instant photographers such as Elegia, Paulina Surys and Andrew Millar featured with two sets of four images each. Mike Barnard and Laura Jones rubbed shoulders with exhibition photographers Scout Willis and Alison Mosshart along with guests such as Pixie Geldof and Tiger Lilly Hutchins at the launch to give their views on the Polaroid-style revival.

Reminding us of the inventiveness of photography without an Instagram filter.

He Said: There’s still so much to love about the instant photograph. The retro look with the white border that encourages a penned-on caption, and the romance attached to the process of developing a physical picture without the need to visit a shop or post a film in a Tru Print envelope (can you even still do that?). Smart phones and social media combined means there’s even less reason to need a photograph we can hold in our hands, and the art of developing a photograph is all but lost with printers at home. However, this exhibition reminded the instant photograph still resonates as a playful format by its very style and the scenes captured played up to this nostalgic look.

All artist had two sets of four instant photographs hanging on the gallery walls. The most sublime was the pair by the nomadic Kate Bellm whose work celebrating the youth and sexual freedom was evident in a glossy fashion shoot and hazy gap year travels. Berlin-based fashion and portrait photographer Oliver Blohm’s had four striking sci-fi gothic snaps contrasting with girl-next-door Dissolves and dowdy, fading colours. Andrew Millar’s eclectic selection was the pick of the exhibition, a Tiger head on a man offering an expressionist blur of fantasy and reality.

The showbiz artists such as Scout Willis and Chuck Grant couldn’t quite match the originality of the others, yet had a certain charm. The feminism of Willis was brought to the fore with nude symmetry recalling classy 70s porn while Chuck’s dishevelled compositions belied the celebrity subjects of sister Lana Del Ray and a bearded James Franco. Meanwhile The Kills’ Alison Mosshart opted to capture the all-American road trip – a grubby motel mattress featured alongside scenes from the road. There was plenty more to admire with Paulina Surys’ jarring selections with hand-written notes over washed-out scenes of pain next to a blend supernatural horror and Elegia offered private personal moments of quiet reflection.

When we got the chance to make our own instant picture, it wasn’t so much about the posing for the picture, but watching it pop out the machine and develop in my pocket. 10 minutes later we eagerly fished it out to see the result – a simple process but one we forget in the digital age. This exhibition was ideal for capturing the retro fun of not just making a physical picture, but also reminding us of the inventiveness of the medium without an Instagram filter.

Bringing back some of the analogue to digital photography.

She Said: To launch Impossible Project’s new Instant Lab Universal technology, that gives the feeling of home-processing your favourite phone snaps, eight photographers were invited to create eight works that played with and pushed the instant format at the Hoxton Gallery on Thursday night.

I liked the look of the Lab, reminiscent of a retro folding box camera. Download the app, chose your photo, and by exposing the film using your phone’s inbuilt torch you have your IRL photo. There is something satisfying about this “slow tech” – you have to think about which images to select, and are limited by your film pack size of eight. And that is what Impossible are trying to do – bring back some of the analogue to digital photography, believing that one doesn’t have to exist without the other.

In the same way Impossible brings together the old and the new, the photography styles and subject matter exhibited for 8 × 8 also spanned this divide.

Chuck Grant’s subject matter evoked a classic sleazy LA underbelly, while Alison Mosshart’s photographs are a dreamy account of life on the road for a rock star. Scout Willis’ work was unflinchingly real, exploring youthful sexuality in her nudes. Elegia’s portraits looked through a softer lens, one image drenched in sex-kittenish nostalgia.

Pushing the limits of the medium and technology was Kate Bellm, whose fashion images were hyper-saturated in colour and gloss. Paulina Surys used collage and physical manipulation of the film to create her fine art vision, her compositions and subject matter making her like a modern day old master. Delving deeper into the fantasy realm was artist Oliver Blohm who had scorched and distressed his dystopian scenes creating a melted, Dali-esque landscape. Disconcerting and uncanny were the photos of Andrew Millar, double exposures and layering creating strange chimera beasts and hallucinogenic still frames.

Walking around the gallery, the great photographs on display were enough to spur the crowd into trying out their photography using the technology, and we duly obliged for zap! bang! Magazine.

She Said by Laura Jones.

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