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Gary Blackman – In The Hand, Polaroid SX70's, 1978–2004


Sat 31 Aug 2019, 11:00am–1:00pm
Mon 2 Sep 2019, 11:00am–5:00pm
Tue 3 Sep 2019, 11:00am–5:00pm
Wed 4 Sep 2019, 11:00am–5:00pm
Thu 5 Sep 2019, 11:00am–5:00pm

Where: Brett McDowell Gallery, 5 Dowling St, Dunedin, Otago

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free

Listed by: Brett McDowell

In 1972 the Polaroid Corporation released its SX-70 camera and integral print film which, within a few minutes of pressing the button and without further intervention by the photographer, created a colour print in full daylight. This astonishing process not only captured the public imagination, it also attracted seriously inclined photographers and artists who saw its potential as a means of expression. The 8cm square image, framed within a white plastic surround, and with its enamel-like surface and distinct colour quality, was in the hand a unique object to be treasured like a small icon or magically coloured daguerreotype. And curious photographers soon discovered and exploited the initial susceptibility of the image to manual manipulation.

SX-70 cameras arrived in New Zealand in 1973–4. I bought a used camera in 1978 and relished the experience of seeing a full colour image emerge within minutes before my eyes, potentially a work of art in miniature. The square format suited me. The challenge was to create imaginative images within a small compass. By 1977 SX-70 photos were being shown in photo galleries in New Zealand, and soon in one or two public galleries—in 1982 the National Art Gallery invited Janet Bayly, Zane Zusters and me to show SX-70s under the title Polaroids. Instant photography had been established as a niche medium of photography. At the end of 2003 McNamara Gallery surveyed the Polaroid SX-70 in New Zealand by exhibiting work dating from 1977 by 13 photographers in a show entitled Tracing Polaroid SX-70. This survey did not foresee the obsolescence of this form of instant photography when in 2008 Polaroid ceased making SX-70 print film 36 years after its introduction. Thus, as with other innovations in photographic technology, an era of photography has ended: the era of Polaroid SX-70 instant photography. - Gary Blackman.

In The Hand - Polaroids, 1978 - 2004 is Gary Blackman's sixth exhibition at Brett McDowell Gallery.

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