Pentimento: Revealing the integral polaroid in a digital age. Singular, physical, sculptural

Cousin, Sean (2007) Pentimento: Revealing the integral polaroid in a digital age. Singular, physical, sculptural. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Interest in the physicality of the photograph, and at the very moment photographic images are increasingly dematerialised and infinitely reproduced due to the impact of digital technologies, has thus far failed to address the integral Polaroid - a curious oversight considering its unique and physical presence. By integral Polaroid, I include all such photographic products that require of the user no other input than the ability to point the camera and press a button. Ejection of the photograph is automatic and the means of development are contained within the packet of the photograph itself, a concept initially introduced with the Polaroid SX70 camera in 1972.
This paper then, will uncover the Polaroid as a distinct medium within photography through an exploration of these two interconnected areas: singularity and physicality. Drawing on Polaroid use in film, fiction, its descriptions on eBay, within fine art, as well as my own practical investigations, I will reinstate the singularity of the medium, physical presence, its location in time and space, and address its material durability. This will lead to an articulation of the Polaroid as a sculptural material in distinction to the location of an image. Representations of the Polaroid on the page and the screen will be investigated throughout, cumulating with the representation of the Polaroid by notation only.
By tracing such connections and representations— in contrast to analogue and digital processes - I will reveal the Polaroid as a specific and unique medium within the domain of photography, one that both the analogue and digital can be measured
In conclusion I will trace how my own body of work has changed as a result of the research; argue that photography, as it has been understood since its invention, should now be equated with the medium from which it was initially measured: namely
painting; address notions of the indexical in relation to the Polaroid as object rather than image surface, and close with an articulation of Polaroid use as an nostalgia act, as, indeed, all photography may soon be.

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