Bellevue Arts Museum
510 Bellevue Way Northeast, West Bellevue, Bellevue

  • Polaroid 01

In the age of 20th century chemical photography, mass image-making required exposed negative film to be developed and printed, and thus seen, by a professional developer. Instant photography changed the game, allowing for image-making away from prying eyes and creating a special bond between the photographer and their subject—often one-and-the-same. The technology to engineer an optical camera that could produce an instant physical photograph was developed by the Polaroid Corporation in 1972. Marketing emphasized ease of use, but, implicitly, the unique selling point of the Polaroids camera was privacy.

Today we live in the digital age of the ‘selfie’, where image-making (and destruction) is almost unlimited. Our photographs can be intensely private and instantly disposable or they can be disseminated to millions via social media. Sometimes, they are both. The polaroid images in this exhibition, images that are personal, private, painterly, and mostly anonymous, become a window not only into a lost world of personal contemplation, but reveal contemporary insight into our own digital culture of public self-reflection.


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