Polaroid is teaming up with what, at first, may seem like a strange bedfellow: Lady Gaga. While details aren't clear yet on what this budding relationship will entail, the company said the singer will be "creative director" for "a specialty line of Polaroid Imaging products." She will also be making personal appearances to promote the brand."The Haus of Gaga has been developing prototypes in the vein of fashion/technology/photography innovation--blending the iconic history of Polaroid and instant film with the digital era--and we are excited to collaborate on these ventures with the Polaroid brand," the pop singer/performance artist said in a typically cryptic statement. She went on to note that her father would be pleased because "finally, [I] have a real job."
%%DynaPub-Enhancement class="enhancement contentType-HTML Content fragmentId-1 payloadId-61603 alignment-right size-small"%%It isn't hard to see why the Gaga/Polaroid pairing is a good match. The pop star's look and her videos draw from a wide array of classic, retro styles. Her "Starstruck" and "Just Dance" videos, for example, use a combination of overexposed people and murky backgrounds to approximate the look of old Polaroid and Super 8 images.
Gaga isn't the only one who is fascinated with this old-fashioned look. In its heyday, Polaroid was popular because it offered instantaneous images when 35 millimeter -- the most common film -- could take days to develop. However, this convenience came with a price: Polaroid's pictures tended to be slightly out of focus and often had strange color shifts, rendering subjects overly greenish or strangely red-faced. People tended to be washed-out, backgrounds tended to be dark, and the inability to zoom meant that catching details was all but impossible.
With these flaws, it was hardly a surprise that the arrival of digital cameras was so devastating for Polaroid. Suddenly, amateur photographers could easily take crisp, perfect pictures, and they could instantaneously look at a photo negating that convenience that was once such a strong selling point for Polaroid. Denied its unique value, the instant film company started to look like a hopeless cause.
And then the backlash came, entering the scene at roughly the same time as Gaga. Some artists began to rhapsodize about the flaws of their old favorites. The Polaroid instant camera, which was on the brink of extinction, was given a second chance and slowly, the market began to see a whole new line of cameras that proudly duplicated the flaws of the old favorites. For example, Fujifilm's $130 Instax Camera Mini used instant film, much like Polaroid's, and produced flash-blasted, color flawed photos that evoked the look of old Polaroids. For video buffs, the $170 SuperHeadz Digital Harinezumi Camera produced silent films that imitate the low-tech, uneven look of Super 8 movies. Both cameras were quickly embraced by artists and technophiles alike.
While there is no doubt that Gaga's face will help sell Polaroid cameras, the announcement that she will be a creative director at the company is far more tantalizing. Whether her camera line comes equipped with sparking bras, halo-esque hairdos or vinyl lingerie, one thing is clear: the lady knows the power that can come from mixing new technology with classic style, a lesson that it has taken Polaroid far too long to learn.
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