Polaroid Swing Reboots Brand To Inspire Artists and Marketers
By Mark Brown. Updated March 26, 2017.
In the 20th century, Polaroid was associated with artists who included Ansel Adams, Andy Warhol and David Hockney. Now the rebooted brand is hoping to walk a similar road and inspire a new generation.
The Silicon Valley startup Polaroid Swing will this week offer more than 200 photographers equipment, exhibition space and possible commissions in its new artist support program.
"Our purpose as a company is to inspire artistic expression," said its British co-founder Tommy Stadlen. "We exist to champion artists and we take that really seriously.'
The company, which launched its Polaroid Swing app last summer, has taken the name and spirit of Polaroid and repackaged it into a new enterprise with a mission, it says, to create a "living photograph,” a step toward something you might see in the Harry Potter movies.
"Photographs should be alive,” said Stadlen. "Every photograph in the digital world and eventually in the physical world, why can't you move it? Why can't you have the composition of a still and be able to see it move?"
The concept is based on humans seeing the world in "short moments, not photos or videos," he said. So with a Swing photo you will see the wave crash or the eye blink.
The artist support program is inspired by the one Polaroid's founder, Edwin Land, created in the mid-20th century, which gave important support to artists such as Warhol, Hockney, Robert Mapplethorpe and Robert Rauschenberg.
It was a mutually beneficial arrangement, and that is something Stadlen hopes to replicate. "Artists helped to make Polaroid a ubiquitous brand and if we can inspire a whole generation of artists to use this medium then it is going to be great for us, great for them."
The idea is that applicants will use the Polaroid Swing app to take pictures which they then submit through social media. The best submissions will be whittled down to a shortlist judged by a diverse panel which will include the photographer Paolo Roversi, the Tate chairman, Lord Browne, and the supermodel Natalia Vodianova.
Around 100 people in the UK, 100 in the US and more around the world will then be invited on to the program which will mean getting a free iPhone, being part of digital and physical exhibitions and having the possibility of brand commission work.
It is open to anyone, but of course not every one will like it. "Some brilliant photographers totally suck at Polaroid Swing and then you get a kid who has never picked up a camera in his life and they are creating incredible art with this new medium," said Stadlen.
Others will ask whether there are not already enough photo and video apps in the world. "We either get 'you're an Instagram clone' or ‘you're an Instagram killer' depending on what day you speak to someone."
Stadlen said they were new and different, and that the company's ambitions were not restricted to the digital world. It eventually hopes to create hardware that allows moving photographs in the physical world.
The company's investors include the co-founder of Twitter, Biz Stone, who is its chairman. "I am proud that Polaroid Swing is standing up for artists," he said. "This is not about charity. It's win-win and I believe that the future of marketing is philanthropy. I can't wait to judge the incredible submissions that will pour in from aspiring artists all over the world."