Thursday, 7 June 2012

David Hockney and the Polaroid

Some 30 years ago David Hockney experimented with his Polaroid camera creating a photographic art form which at the time was revolutionary and on the whole ignored by Photo artists of the time though emulated since.

The instant image nature of the Polaroid allowed him to bypass the traditional and less available developing processes and to work at a speed akin to painting and thereby inject a high level of creativity into the process.

As Hockney says himself “In 1981 I started to play with the Polaroid camera and began making collages. Within a week, very quickly. I made them quite complex. This intrigued me and I became obsessed with it. I made about 150 collages with Polaroids….This very strongly kindled my interest in Cubism and in Picasso’s idea, so that in a sense it was photography that got me into thinking again about Cubist ways of seeing’

I remember seeing an exhibition of this work when I was about twenty years old and quite frankly my attempts to emulate the process was thwarted by cost and the painful slowness of developing processes of the time.

Thereafter I simply forgot about it until in recent times Hockney has engaged with new technologies and similar multi point photography which featured in his recent Royal Academy exhibition.

To me it proves that the camera can emulate the techniques of the traditional artist and I wonder if the advent of high quality easy to use and process camera technology has rendered representational art using traditional media obsolete.

If the main commercial market for art is in reproduction prints does it matter what the original source is?

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