Daily Picture Show

The Impossible Project: Reinventing Polaroid

Last February was a sad month for analog lovers. Polaroid announced that it would no longer manufacture instant film as it steered in a digital direction, and many of us dolefully put our boxy cameras back on the shelf. Then Florian Kaps and a team of Dutch scientists came to the rescue. Since February they have been reinventing a new instant film pack. Almost a year later, The Impossible Project is nearly complete.

  • The Impossible Project team has purchased the complete line of production equipment in the Polaroid factory in The Netherlands.
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    The Impossible Project team has purchased the complete line of production equipment in the Polaroid factory in The Netherlands.
  • The team also signed a 10-year lease on the Polaroid factory building.
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    The team also signed a 10-year lease on the Polaroid factory building.
  • It has had one year to reinvent the unique photographic process of Polaroid.
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    It has had one year to reinvent the unique photographic process of Polaroid.
  • The team consists of 15 people in the factory — mostly former Polaroid employees — and six people in the project's office.
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    The team consists of 15 people in the factory — mostly former Polaroid employees — and six people in the project's office.
  • Florian Kaps is the executive director of marketing and business development. An entrepreneur with an affinity for analog film, Kaps approached Andre Bosman, a Polaroid engineering manager, at the factory's close. The two developed The Impossible Project.
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    Florian Kaps is the executive director of marketing and business development. An entrepreneur with an affinity for analog film, Kaps approached Andre Bosman, a Polaroid engineering manager, at the factory's close. The two developed The Impossible Project.
  • Dick Koopmans is an engineer on the team. He started in film production in 1979.
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    Dick Koopmans is an engineer on the team. He started in film production in 1979.
  • Martin Steinmeijer is a team chemist, responsible for understanding the photo chemistry system.
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    Martin Steinmeijer is a team chemist, responsible for understanding the photo chemistry system.
  • Polaroid disposed of its unique chemicals, so the team had to reinvent the elaborate chemical process.
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    Polaroid disposed of its unique chemicals, so the team had to reinvent the elaborate chemical process.
  • One of the great hurdles was developing the "timing layer latex" — or latex used to coat a gelatin base to delay the neutralization process, or the development of the image.
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    One of the great hurdles was developing the "timing layer latex" — or latex used to coat a gelatin base to delay the neutralization process, or the development of the image.
  • The project is very nearly complete. The new line of monochrome film will be launched in February.
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    The project is very nearly complete. The new line of monochrome film will be launched in February.
  • Marwan Saba is in charge of finance and legal.
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    Marwan Saba is in charge of finance and legal.
    Philip Sinden
  • In addition to spearheading The Impossible Project, Kaps was also the leading manager of the Lomographic Society. As the world becomes digital, Kaps is determined to maintain the analog.
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    In addition to spearheading The Impossible Project, Kaps was also the leading manager of the Lomographic Society. As the world becomes digital, Kaps is determined to maintain the analog.
    Philip Sinden
  • Andre Bosman is the executive director of operation and production. He joined Polaroid in 1980 as a product and process engineer and rose to engineering manager, responsible for technical functions in the film plant.
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    Andre Bosman is the executive director of operation and production. He joined Polaroid in 1980 as a product and process engineer and rose to engineering manager, responsible for technical functions in the film plant.
    Philip Sinden
  • The Impossible Project will end this month, and film will be available in February.
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    The Impossible Project will end this month, and film will be available in February.
    Philip Sinden

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Florian Kaps is analog film's biggest advocate. His first major foray into film was as leading manager of the Lomographic Society, an online community devoted to the Russian toy Lomo camera. He also set up Polanoid.net, an online gallery, and a real gallery called Polanoir. So it was just the next logical step to single-handedly save an entire photographic process.

Well, maybe not single-handedly. He teamed up with Andre Bosman, a former manager at Polaroid, and a group of about 10 film specialists, chemists and engineers. Together they acquired the Polaroid machinery, which was doomed to be destroyed, as well as a 10-year lease on the Polaroid factory in the Netherlands.

They will be launching a monochrome film line in February and a color film pack this summer. So you can dust off your Polaroid camera; you just might have film for it in the near future. Check out their Web site to learn more, and view photos from The Impossible Project group pool on Flickr:

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