Impossible 8X10 Test Film by Thom Jackson, 2012

The discontinuation of Polaroid film in 2008 led to much despair among its fans. Adherents missed the instant gratification and the immediate one-of-a-kind appeal of what since its introduction in the 1940s had become a classic medium. The Impossible Project, Founded in 2008, set out to recreate the out-of-production films that Polaroid users had come to depend on. Initially they focused on consumer-oriented films for the most popular Polaroid cameras, but recently they branched out into a new stock for professional users who yearned to use their large format 8x10 cameras with an instant film.

In advance of this film becoming available to the wider public, The Impossible Project shared it with some of their test users - photographers they call their 'Pioneers.' From the work of these Pioneers, the company aimed to create an exhibition illustrating what beautiful results are possible with their film. 

This engaging and charming show at the Impossible Project’s gallery space in New York City showcases the talents of 13 photographers. With each photographer displaying between 2 and 4 images, the exhibition presents work exclusively done using a newly engineered monochrome film that is designed to approximate the 8x10 Polaroid emulsions of days gone by. 

Impossible 8X10 Test Film by Bill Phelps, 2012 Impossible 8X10 Test Film by Chloe Aftel, 2012

The varied work within the gallery, all 8x10 monochromes, contains a variety of genres and artistic vision. For me, highlights include Chloe Aftel’s ethereal portraits, Bill Phelp's formal and pleasingly arranged still-lifes, Tim Mantoani’s studies of what seems to be the interior of a surf-shop, Alan Marcheselli's theatrical nudes, and Thom Jackson’s classic studio portraiture with a stunning model.

The show is unified by film itself - its timeless effect achieved through its particular density, texture, and level of detail. The output ranges from the silvery to the sepia, with the same film yielding different results depending on variations of the environment in which the film’s chemicals air dry. Because of its nature, the process necessarily involves surprising results.

Impossible 8X10 Test Film by Alan Marcheselli, 2012

To get a sense of what this show offers, try to imagine pictures that are a wonderful hybrid of the sensibility often associated large format photography (with its deliberate and careful composition) mixed with the look of lomography or toy cameras, (full of unpredictability and whimsy). This quirky and fascinating exhibition is well worth a visit for people in and around New York. For everyone else - you'll have to wait for the (inevitable) book. 

8x10 By Impossible is open from August 23rd - September 11 (entrance free), Hours:  Monday-Friday 11am-7pm, Saturday-Sunday 12pm-6pm. The exhibition is located at the Impossible Project NYC, Space 425 Broadway, 5th Floor, New York City


Adam Koplan is head of the Performance Department at the Dreamyard Project which brings arts programs to NYC schools. He is also Artistic Director of The Flying Carpet Theatre Co. Follow him on Twitter @FlyingCarpetNYC