Would you listen to music on a Walkman? Today? Seems unlikely. But maybe if you found the Walkman way in the back of your closet, next to that Bangles or Alice in Chains cassette tape you once loved.
There's a nostalgia factor that keeps us from shunning even the most antiquated of mediums, and that nostalgia is pervasive in photographer Patrick Hoelck's latest work “Polaroid Hotel,” currently exhibiting at LeadApron and also available as a book. In the show, Hoelck captures life moments from the past 17 years in an attempt to show that just because Polaroid is out of vogue doesn't mean it's dead.
In the video after the jump, shot by Emma Jones, and in our interview with him that follows, Hoelck provides some insight into what inspired the project.
What inspired you to use Polaroid as a medium for this project?
I love the unpredictability of it.
I read that you feel Polaroid hasn't lost its appeal. Why do you think that is? What do you think it gives us that nothing else quite can?
A woman I'm sitting with just responded “vanity.” Laughing, she said, “you always look good in a Polaroid.” I think the appeal is in its mystery and unpredictability, much like the world today and before my day, you never know what to expect.
Why, in general, do you think people gravitate to the nostalgic?
Nostalgic memories bring back so many emotions, like those of my first car, my first pair of jeans, or my first love…those were special moments.
In today's world, where the hottest new gadget becomes practically obsolete as soon as its 2.0 version comes out, do you think we're wrong to be so disposable with technology? Should we be fighting to save Polaroid, vinyl, cassette tapes, etc.?
I think old school items will last as long as like minded people desire them. I was listening to a record playing through an old guitar amp the other day and I have to say digital didn't remotely capture the raw soul coming off the phonograph, it was unreal.
Despite the antiquated medium, the images that make up this project are described as “modern and now.” How is that?
When I see the Polaroids I see 17 years of visual diaries, a collection of random moments that meant everything to me when they were taken. When I see the large prints in the gallery at 30 [inches] by 40, I see America: pop culture, sexuality, good friends, love, light, confusion and resolve, as well as the monochromatic colors of the 60s and 70s.
What do you hope people discover in your exhibit?
If I had one hope it would be that they recall their own memories and create their own diaries when sitting alone with the work.
Update: The exhibit ended it's run at LeadApron early but is available for private viewing. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for an appointment.
“Polaroid Hotel” runs through May 21 at LeadApron, and is also available in book form.