Natalia Vodianova


IN AN INSTANT: To help rev up interest in the new iPhone app Polaroid Swing, the company is trying to help groom talent through its Polaroid Swing Artist Support Program.

Established and up-and-coming photographers will be given equipment, commissions from brand partners, exhibitions and media coverage. Selecting the winners will be a 12-person panel of judges including Natalia Vodianova, Paolo Roversi, the Tate’s chairman Lord Browne, artist Rolf Sachs and Twitter cofounder Biz Stone. Polaroid has a long history of helping artists due to its founder Edwin Land. Through the years, Ansel Adams, Robert Rauschenberg, David Hockney, Robert Mapplethorpe and Andy Warhol have been among the beneficiaries.

Other jurors include Arianna Huffington, The Wall Street Journal’s Christina Binkley, Gigaom founder Om Malik, photographer Dylan Don, Instagram filter creator Cole Rise, Getty’s Hugh Pinney, The Art Newspaper’s Ermanno Rivetti and “Instant: The Story of Polaroid” author Christopher Bonanos.

Polaroid Swing app cocreator Tommy Stadlen said, “Natalia Vodianova has spent a career in fashion working with the world’s leading Polaroid photographers, including Paolo Roversi.”

Aside from giving movement to an image, Swing allows users to reverse the sequence by swiping left or to advance it by swiping right. Stadlen said, “We had a very simple insight: people see the world in short moments, not in stills or videos. We wanted to create a new visual medium with the compositional quality of photography and the vitality of a world which is always moving.”

The selected artists and photographers will have their work displayed through exhibitions and installations in established museums throughout the world.

Unrelated to the PSASP, visitors to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Museum will find the rare Polaroid 20×24 camera and portraits by an earlier beneficiary of Polaroid Artist Support Program Elsa Dorfman. She first used the 240-lb. camera on subjects like Allen Ginsberg in 1980. Dorfman described her approach to photography in the show notes as, “I have a frank eye. It is open, makes contact, and doesn’t THREATEN.”

Dorfman said via e-mail that the Errol Morris film about her work “The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography” will hit theaters June 2.

Traces of the Polaroid story can be found at the MIT Museum’s “Polaroid’s Invention of Instant Photography.” The museum acquired more than 9,000 items from Polaroid’s 73-year archive in 1990. Aside from holding 500-plus patents (second to Thomas Edison) Land got his idea for the instant camera from his three-year-old daughter Jennifer, who asked, “Why can’t I see the picture right now?”

“By the end of that walk,” Land would later observe, “the solution to the problem had been pretty well. I would say that everything had been, except those few details that took from 1943 to 1973.” He first demonstrated the instant Polaroid Land camera in 1947 and Polaroid’s color version was released in 1973.

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