Hudson Gallery - Cape Ann
Polarized: Technology and Aesthetics of Polaroid Art
June 3 - June 15, 2017, Reception June 3rd from 7-10pm
120 Main Street, Gloucester, MA  01930

 An exhibit showcasing abstractionist David Robinson and work by students of Monica Allon at The Perkins School for the Blind. Polarized: Technology and Aesthetics of Polaroid Art is a combination of original experimental Polaroid instant film prints, 20x24 large format and tactile diagrams. The photographs by David Robinson and students from Perkins reveal both decisive and pure, unfiltered and inherently conceptual, moments in time. June 3 - June 15, with a reception on Saturday, June 3rd from 7pm-10pm.

Monica Allon initiated a Polaroid project for the Lower School Extended Day Program at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts. The artists are students ages 10-15.  "I would bring in very tangible and functional objects from the past for our students to examine, including a typewriter, a record player, a rotary phone and a Polaroid camera. The students gravitated toward the camera because of its shape, which fit perfectly into their hands, the buttons to push and the sounds produced as a picture is taken and the film print comes out of the camera," Monica Allon stated. The students were aware that they were creating instant objects of art which became more apparent when the tactile diagrams were created from their pictures. Using Polaroid film cameras over the course of a year, this group of students, with the aid of Teaching Assistants, learned about and documented their environment. In viewing this collection of photographs, one will appreciate a different perspective of objects and structures, causing each of us to take another look at what we see. 

A selection of original Polaroid snapshots will be exhibited along with tactile diagram enlargements. Each Polaroid snapshot has been enlarged and, with the use of technology, tactile diagrams were created.  The method used to produce the tactile diagrams of the Polaroids is through Microcapsule or Thermal Imaging. The images were edited with the use of graphic image software. Betsey Sennott at the Perkins oversees this technology. Large print and braille identify each piece of artwork.

In 1972, Polaroid introduced the SX-70, a fully automatic, motorized unit that ejected a square print from the front. The high technology removed the barriers of speed and distribution between the photographer and the photo. Polaroid SX-70 film produced a fully developed print in about one minute. Instant gratification and simplicity were key for David Robinson who purchased the camera. The simplicity of the SX-70 system belied its technical complexity. Within the 2 millimeter thick film unit was a sandwich of thin polymer sheets, a positive image-receiving sheet, reagent, timing and light reflecting layers, and the tri-color negative -17 layers. When mechanically pushed through a roller system, the reagent housed in the iconic white frame spread evenly across the 17 separate layers of emulsion. He experimented with both SX-70 film and SX-70 Time zero film which had a strong following with artists who used it for image manipulation. 

When the image forms on an instant photo, the developer dye has the basic consistency of wet ink. "Seeing others rubbing and blurring the emulsion inspired me.  At first, I used architect's tape suspended on film or taped to the film pack and exposed. With instant film I was able to create photos that were difficult to accomplish with traditional photography," David Robinson said. Finding abstraction in the ordinary, he shot hundreds of photos of scrambled TV broadcasts and test patterns worldwide accumulating ideas. This experimentation was the catalyst for designing the album cover for The Cars, Complete First Greatest Hits. His visual acuity coupled with a penchant for sequences are evident in the works selected for this exhibition.

Polaroid inventor Edwin Land believed that aesthetic abilities were equal in importance to  scientific knowledge. He hired several art historians to work for the company, worked closely with arts professionals and challenged his staff to build films and cameras to the exacting demands of professional artists. Polaroid successfully bridged ideals in both scientific research and the arts.  In the late 1970's the Polaroid line introduced the 20x24 studio camera. Few were
made; these giant cameras shoot massive 20 inch by 24 inch exposures. Polaroid built a studio on Ames Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts that contained two studios and a gallery to exhibit the images. Initially, they invited a number of select photographers to experiment with the cameras, 
in exchange for donating images to the Polaroid Collection. These artists received free 100 film packs and studio space. David Robinson was invited and created a series of TV test patterns and portraits of musician, G.E. Smith, one which became the cover art for Smith's In the World album. The Polaroid Artists Corporate Collection grew to 16,000 prints by 120 recognized masters including Ansel Adams, William Wegman, and Andy Warhol.

David Robinson is a native of the Boston area. He is the artistic director, and drummer for the Boston-based band The Cars, responsible for logo, album cover and stage set designs.  "If music industry success had not happened, I may have become an architect, or portrait painter," David Robinson said. He resides in Rockport, Massachusetts and makes jewelry sold alongside antiques and paintings in his gallery, Windemere Art and Antiques.

Monica Allon holds a B.A. in Art Education/Art Therapy from Queens College of the City University of New York. She received a M.S. in Occupational Therapy from Boston University. Over the last 30 years, she worked as an Occupational Therapist at Perkins, with a particular interest in designing and creating adapted equipment as well as designing and creating adaptive games. Monica currently coordinates the Lower School Extended Day Program. She is an assemblage artist, with her artwork shown in various galleries. Monica's artwork encourages both visual and tactile exploration.