REVIEW: Proof by Tomasz Gudzowaty
By Elana Kates
Polish photographer Tomasz Gudzowaty explores the nature of Polaroid’s now discontinued Type 55 P/N film in his recent publication, Proof. This book is a departure for the artist—Gudzowaty is known for his dramatic and dynamically composed black and white documentary photographs (see our review of Gudzowaty’s Closer). Proof reveals something more atypical: images that engage the “aesthetic of chance.”
Type 55 P/N was Polaroid’s beloved large-format, fine art film, phased out when the company announced its 2001 bankruptcy. A history of the film, written by Manfred Heiting, is included with the book. This short essay explains the film’s conception—developed by Ansel Adams and Polaroid’s founder and director of research, Dr. Edwin Land—as well as its function. Type 55 produced outstandingly high quality negatives as well as instant positive prints. The positive prints were rougher, unpolished.
Proof is composed entirely of these imperfect images, usually discarded by artists who consider them inconsequential byproducts of their artistic process. Gudzowaty reclaims these artifacts, embracing their cuts and scratches, overexposure and distortion. The effect is abstract and atmospheric. In the artist’s view: “I… realized that imperfection is an essential part of photography, a price for faithfulness to the nature of the medium.” These flaws are woven into the fabric of each image, all printed in sepia tones with arresting full bleeds. Gudzowaty champions the coincidental nature of the medium itself. Although this is an unexpected turn for the artist, it is certainly appreciated: Proof is a striking exploration into the minutiae of fine art photography.
Book courtesy of Steidl
Article © Elana Kates