Instant Frustration

Three weeks ago I was in Vienna visiting friends, and I seized the opportunity to purchase a used Polaroid 1000 camera, a single-use flash and some film.

The first picture I ever took with a Polaroid turned out ok.

I continued my trip, spending 10 days in Spital am Pyhrn (don’t worry, nobody knows where it is) with 27 amazing Baha’i youth (ages 11-15) from all over the country. Their potential, comprehension and sense of justice is deeply inspiring. But it was at night, trying to get them to go to sleep, when our creative juices really got to flow. We tried singing, threatening, bribing with candy and even Varani*. So when I heard them talking after curfew, I thought it would be fun to enter one of the hotel rooms the Junior Youth were sharing and then use the flash of my Polaroid to scare them.

The camera made the loud sound, and I do believe there was some sort of flash, and it was scary all right. But no foto came out this time.

With 6 fotos left in the film, I didn’t want to open the camera and expose it to sunlight, so I kept it for another two weeks. I spent one of those weeks in Barcelona, which is pretty much the best place on earth, and returned some days ago. When I saw the camera sitting where I’d left it, I decided it was time to open it and see if it could be fixed.

It turned out that the foto had been jammed into the wheels of the mechanism inside, so I ripped it out. Some sorts of chemicals had formed an interesting looking pattern on one side.

Picture number three was the one that was on top when I opened the camera, so it is all exposed.

Picture number four I took at the zoo (but no, it’s not an animal). It came out all blue and I thought the whole film had been damaged. So I put it in my pocket and it wasn’t until hours later that I found out something had developed. It’s very light, but the camera seems to be working properly again.

My memory of the origins of picture number five is as fuzzy as the picture itself. It might have been our garden, or dinner, or a spaceship taking off.

The last picture I have no idea what happened. I don’t know whether light is good or bad for the outcome, anyways I kept this one because it looks artsy.

Maybe someday I’ll be able to present Polaroids that actually look good.

*Varani, n.: procedure originally designed to wake people. It involves two or more individuals walking up to a sleeping person, then pushing that person into the matress repeatedly while yelling “Varani” over and over as loud as they can. Best results are yielded when the frequency of repeated pushes matches the matress’ natural resonance, thus building up greater momentum and a more lasting impression on the third person’s subjective experience of the Varanization. Future trends in applied Varani technique include a rolling motion.

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