This is the eleventh edition of our Q&A blog series titled "The Expired Eight". Our aim is to highlight instant film photographers using expired film in a variety of formats. Today's Q&A is with Marisa Redburn. Redburn is a fine art photographer and multimedia artist, with a focus on film, darkroom and alternative process. Her works' aesthetic is recognizably cinematic-noir; dark and enigmatic, ambiguous, visceral, and evocative. Capturing icon, metaphor and archetype in surreal scenes and allegorical vignettes. Her artist's credo embraces beauty that is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. Connect with Marisa on her website and Flickr!
Tell us about when instant film came into your life and what inspired you to keep using it? Being a child of the 80’s, Polaroid was at every birthday party. I grew up with Instant Film and loved it: the sound of the charge, the blinding flash, anxiously anticipating the image. The instant photograph was magic and an artifact that embodied a moment. Leaving an instant image in a tangible form. It wasn’t until 2002 that I started shooting large format and started shooting Type 55. At this point Polaroid was still in production so I was shooting some type of Polaroid at every shoot. I’ve continued to use Polaroid because it allows me to experiment with a one of a kind tangible outcome. Something palpable, tactile, something I can hold/manipulate, something real. Evidence.
How would you describe your work?
Allegorical narrative vignettes, cinematic and poetic, noir-dark and illusory, gritty, visceral. What is revealed and what is hidden...a forgery, a mark of time, a hallucination.
How did you decide what subjects to photograph? What sorts of things capture your attention?
In terms of subjects as themes, it’s the duality of light and shadow that I’m drawn to, as well as metaphors and symbols. The contradiction is always what captures my attention, whether it takes the form of a person, object, or place...
What types of instant camera do you own? Which one is your favorite and why?
I own a Polaroid 545 Back, Polaroid Land Camera Automatic 210, Holgaroid, Polaroid Electric Eye 900, Polaroid Big Shot, Polaroid SX- 70, Polaroid Land Camera Model J66, and a Polaroid Spectra 2. As far as my favorite, I would say, I love them all. My Polaroid 545 back has had a lot of use and it is a must have for large format. I use the 545 back with a Sinar and a Crown Graphic 4x5 Press Camera and shoot all large format Polaroid with it. I also love my Land Camera Automatic 210, its perfect for 665’s. The SX-70 is another favorite. It’s classic, versatile, has focusing ability...it’s a must have!
What attracted you to Type 55? What motivates you to use it almost exclusively?
What attracted me to Type 55 and motivates me to use it is that it allowed me to experiment and to have instant gratification with large format. For me, large format is very methodical and control oriented, whereas Type 55 is very spontaneous. Another aspect that appealed to me creatively is that each shot results in a positive and a negative. I like having the option to further experiment with either the positive or negative (or both), as well as having an infinitely reproducible negative. The positive is an artifact in itself and is usually coated/fixed, but I decided to not coat my positives. This allowed natural aging and decomposition over time. The transient nature of Type 55 allowed something to happen out of my control, that indeterminacy has become a part of my work.
What are the main difficulties and hurdles obtaining and using expired film?
The main difficulty obtaining and using expired film is the limited quantity. You kind of have to take what you can get. Cross your fingers it was stored correctly. You are gambling on the film still being good, which may or may not yield favorable results. Although you can still find Type 55 and many expired Polaroid film types on Ebay, it’s expensive and it’s always a risk.
Any tips for those interested in experimenting with instant film?
I would say shoot a lot and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Throw caution to the wind, take risks, you’ll find something you couldn’t have found otherwise. Don’t listen to anyone, let go of expectations and trust your intuition. Get out of the safe zone and do something you never thought about doing. Reinvent yourself and most of all, always be a beginner.
Do you have any instant photographers that inspire you?
Simon Larbalestier is at the top of my list . He is a true inspiration for me and his work introduced me to Type 55 Polaroid. As a young photographer, I listened to a lot of music and was addicted to the work he did for the 4AD Record Label. I was in awe of his work, gritty and beautiful at the same time. Below you will find a link to his site as well as a few other instant photographers I find inspiring...