Andrew Ault, Unleashed

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Ten years ago I stopped by an estate sale in Minneapolis. Among the many bargains on display (broken tools, stained pants, mildew ridden laddy mags) was a 1967 Polaroid 250 land camera at the can't-pass-up price of $5. Not having a clue how it worked I showed it to my pal Sally Mars who showed me a thing or two and helped me acquire a bunch of film for it.

Over the next few months I took a zillion pictures of which occasionally a couple would look OK. My inspiration was this fellow Alexander Liberman who, at the height of his powers, ran Condé Nast. He made a point of devoting his weekends to making art and taking pictures of his friends whenever possible. Being far too lazy to ever keep a diary I decided that I too would start carrying a camera on my many travels to various pizza places and house parties. And sure enough after many moons I've found myself with boxes of pictures of good times and people whose names I don't always quite recollect. And somewhere during all of this I've made two little super simple websites of the shots I think turned out - and Not the fanciest pages on the Internet by any stretch, but for the most part safe for work.

I also found myself getting sucked into the world of buying as much Polaroid stuff as I could. Turns out they made all sorts of different cameras and gadgets back in the day. One camera took square photos. Another long oddly shaped one simply took portrait shots. One did everything and was appropriately called the "SuperShooter." There were kits for close-ups and super close-ups. And then there are the flash bulbs. Before eBay, I had to pull over to every estate or garage sale I could find and see if they had the coveted old timey "Magicubes" which bathe subjects in a soft light, and also makes them go blind for a few seconds and swear a lot. The word on the street nowadays is that Polaroid is getting out of the film business. Actually, that is in fact what they've said. But there are also rumors that others are going to start making the stuff. Which would suit me fine as otherwise I'll have to convert my cameras into doorstops or buoyantless bathtub toys. That said, when I heard the news I replaced all the condiments and perishables in my fridge with what remaining Polaroid film I could find in Los Angeles. So hopefully I can look artsy at parties for at least another few months.

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