At the Fort Point Art Walk this spring (May 11-13) artist Ryuji Suzuki is snapping photos, not all that unusual giving this is an artist open studios event… or is it? Ryuji has it, yes he does! The camera we all know and love, the Polaroid! Oh how those instant photos that you can hold in your hand make us warm and fuzzy inside!
“A picture is exposed on a piece of instant film. After a bit of waiting, you peel it apart and get a 3 by 3-inch print. That's the original and the only copy of the image, small and not very sharp; it won't show wrinkles... the reason why people smiled better in 1990s” – Ryuji Suzuki
The Polaroid Portrait Project during FPAC's Art Walk is a photo collaboration between Ryuji and Fort Point residents and visitors. An installation of tiny lovely squares, Ryuji takes photos from his studio (Midway Studio, 15 Channel Center, #218) to include as part of the photo montage on his wall.
The first 100 visitors to Studio 218 will experience the portrait process and get to take their photo home! (While supplies last.) Stop in during Artwalk or contact Ryuji today to be part of this collaboration. Contact information: E. firstname.lastname@example.org P. 617 326 7770
SNAPSHOT - FPAC catches up with the artist to get the inside scoop of the Polaroid Portrait Project:
FPAC: Why a Polaroid Portrait Project? What is it about tangible and instant photos that appeal to the public?
RS: It will be shocking to some people that a Polaroid picture took two minutes before you could actually see the image. Of course, regular photography took hours or days back then, but pictures were also something special. With iPhone and Instagram, people can snap a picture of all sorts of random things to post on facebook and it can be viewed world-wide in a few seconds. But, because of the convenience, cheap camera phones and saturated communication channels they are addicted to, pictures lost all of the special meaning. You actually had to have an actual print, whether a Polaroid or a drugstore 4x6 from Kodacolor Royal Gold 400 negative film with ugly orange date code, and sit next to someone to share the exciting experience. Those days aren't coming back... but we can still experience a bit of that, and see if people find a new meaning in one picture that can't be deleted
FPAC: Your work often tells a story of your subjects. Is the story fashioned by you or do you let your surroundings influence how the tale unfolds?
RS: For my commercial work, it really depends on how the assignment is defined. But most of the time, it is a mix of deliberate planning and happy accidents. But when I can shoot at a leisurely pace like some of my fine art work, I tend to take time to look for something specific or set up the scene deliberately. Either way, I do believe in telling a story, conveying an idea or showing a character in each photograph. These are the things that make people react and think.
FPAC: What story are you hoping to tell about Fort Point and the Polaroid portraits?
RS: This is not about my story, but more about their story. I'm being a catalyst, where I'm disrupting the brain reaction a bit, and encouraging people to think and tell their own story. Fort Point locals get to do this in advance, so that their stories can be told with the picture during Art Walk. Someone already told me that she remembered one Polaroid photo taken at her fifth birthday party. I'm actually looking forward to finding people sharing their stories on facebook, twitter or blogosphere after Art Walk.
FPAC: Your reference the 1960’s and pop culture from both that time period and your own youth in the 80’s and 90’s as influences on your work. Tell us more!
RS: When I talk to people older than me, they seem trying hard to forget about the time after Jimmy Carter but before Bill Clinton, together with everything else from that era. But when I talk to people younger than myself, people don't care who the 40th president was but they like the pop culture from 1980s. I grew up in Japan in 1980s, and people paid attention to Bon Jovi and Aerosmith not Dow Jones average or Reagan's jokes. I was bored with color TV, VHS tapes and Madonna back then and found music and b&w video from 1960s very fresh. Finally in 2012 I appreciate 1980s and 1990s and I actually listen to music that I used to ignore or ridicule.