Polaroid Type 55PN is a black-and-white peel-apart 4x5 inch photographic medium that yields both a positive print and (importantly for this project) a film negative. Most Polaroid imaging products contain only a positive print and it is the addition of the fine-grained film negative, used to create quality enlargements, which made Type 55 a favourite of photographers and artists. Each pouch, typical of Polaroid, houses not only this film but also the operations of a photo darkroom – developer, stop and fixer.
Working with film is an experience of alchemy far more subject to chance than the equally wonderful, mechanical perfection of modern digital photography. Particularly in the black and white darkroom, film’s seemingly magical transformation of light into silver and response to temperature, time, and many other variables give it an organic, living presence – and thus an appropriate medium for a series questioning humanity’s reverence for the living planet.
Production of Polaroid Type 55 ceased in 2008 and all stocks expired in 2010. The photographs in Life: As We’ve Known It were produced from 2010 to 2017.
PS: Some enterprising analogue champions have created NEW55 film, although it bounces in and out of development. Stay updated here.