What kind of temporal-spatio-rhetoric does a polaroid afford? How does the slow afterlife of exposure agitate against the so-called instantaneousness of the film? Although digital photography challenges the indexical bond of the image, film also troubles the actuality of space and time by underscoring the relationship between chemical memory and the slow fossilization of an image.
These photographs of Philadelphian architecture and empty lots build upon my poetic engagement with the weighted industrial and agricultural histories of the city as an enclave of agrarian modernity. Focusing on buildings and zones that have undergone reclamation, transformation, or erasure, I explore the variegated public contestations fought over urban real estate and the shifting functions of contemporary architectures. To this end, these polaroids interrogate difficult geologies that evoke either transitory urban pastorals such as cemeteries, empty lots, and train terminals, or the cultural histories of buildings that have undergone urban renewal such as the former slaughterhouse at 3000 Market Street.
The polaroid also implies the burden of exclusion. While digital photography permits the user to capture rapid successions of stills over a wider frame, the polaroid photograph is limited to a surface area of 7.5cms x 8cms. Coupled with the cost of the film and its unrecyclability, the photographer must choose her subject deliberately and carefully. In other words, the polaroid picture is as much about what is outside the frame as the image itself. This tension between documentation and exclusion dovetails into the problematic history of Philadelphia’s urban architecture in which gentrification, economic development, and the industrial collapse are reshaping local geological narratives.
These photographs are not digitally treated (aside from being scanned). The colour variances are the result of the type and age of film (duochrome, colour, and black and white. The choice of film is dependent on what is affordable and/or available at the time). Although I prefer to use expired polaroid film (original polaroid 600 as produced by the Polaroid Corporation) due to the erosion of chemical paper, this product is increasingly difficult to find in any viable form. The title of each image describes the location and date of capture (date-month-year). The camera used is an original Polaroid Sun 600.