William Miller | Ruined Polaroids
I have been, for most of my career, a photojournalist. In this context, I have been interested in interpreting through photography, stories and narratives that I encounter in the world. Here the camera is the tool with which I focus outwards. That said, I find myself in the unusual position of perusing a photographic endeavor whose only narrative is the internal processes of photography itself.
These pictures are taken with a camera that is, by most definitions, broken: an old Polaroid SX-70 camera rescued from a yard sale. I’ve always loved this camera. It is an ingeniously conceived, complicated bundle of gears and switches with hundreds of moving parts packed in tight like a chrome and leather pistol.
With its first use I realized the camera wasn’t functioning properly. It sometimes spills out 2 pictures at a time and the film often gets stuck in the gears, exposing and mangling the images in unpredictable ways. Over time I've figured out how to control and accentuate aspects of the camera's flaws but the images themselves are always a surprise. Each one is determined by the idiosyncrasies of the film and the camera.
This project, Ruined Polaroids, is an unintended exploration into the 3-dimensional physical character of an antiquated photographic medium that touches on subjects from the artistic value of chance to questions of what constitutes a photograph. I say unintended because what I’m focusing on here is a technological anomaly. The failure of a process.