"What this whole projects starts with is a partially broken camera. Fortuitously and totally by chance it is broken in a way that’s productive but the flaw that has given it that extra dimension has also robbed it of its initial purpose. This camera won’t take pictures but it will use something that resembles a photographic process mixed with the violence of ruthless gears and rollers to make these unique images."
"Now, I’m a photojournalist so when I am looking for these Polaroids to fail that means that I want them to fail spectacularly and iconically. I know theoretically what’s happening but I want it to be visually compelling. That’s what you’re seeing here. The camera spit out 2 pictures at once and the gears ground over the center of this one. There’s no room for 2 pictures between the rollers and I had to grab the end of the picture and wrestle both of them out. At first, most of the image was blue. I was discouraged and threw it into a drawer. Polaroids used to come up in a few minutes. Now, it takes weeks for it to be fully developed. Colors darken and sometimes change, usually for the better. About 2 weeks later I pulled it out and most of the blue had turned orange with these streaks that looked like a topographic map of the desert. I must be some kind of genius, I thought."
"The camera is pretty indifferent to what I put in front of it though I insist on pointing it at things. I often think that if I traveled through time and photographed famous events throughout history, the camera would be totally apathetic to the gravity of the event. The Kennedy assassination, the French Revolution, the murder of Socrates, all rendered in broken smooshed colors that didn’t seem to be in front of you when you took the damn thing. In front of the camera: Cleopatra committing suicide. 'Oh, I’ll take a picture of this. What the? Looks like grass on the moon. Stupid camera.' "
"This is the photographic equivalent of a Rorschach test. Most people tell me this is two elephants in mis-matched espadrilles eating a pizza in the business class section of a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt but I don’t see it. The pizza, I mean."
"This picture allowed me to do a self-portrait in a way that I felt compelled to for many years but was too embarrassed, especially while my mother was still alive. A broken camera doesn’t know what it’s pointed at. It cannot detect intention. A broken camera knows nothing about our desires and transgressions. It is an unreliable traveling companion. A silent witness."
"Polaroid SX-70 is an expensive endeavor. It always has been. When I was young I had a pretty sound set of excuses that made it seem ok for me to steal it from chain stores. I lost track of those excuses years ago. Around the same time they started keeping the film behind the counter. These days I’m paying about 3 bucks a picture, so when I’m plowing through the film and I’m literally seeing dollar bills shoot out of the front of the camera and I have nothing to show for it, I get desperate. Even though I work with this camera quite a bit, every time I release the shutter, I’m in a white-hot panic like someone just dropped a baby. I’ll think to myself 'The chemicals didn’t get spread around at all. This isn’t going to work. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.' I’ll run the picture through the rollers twice or more to get some kind of image out of it. The rollers move the drying chemistry around and it bunches up with little folds - thousands of little folds. At first, it looks like a cat threw up on it. 'Is that even good? Is that what I want?' Disgusted, I throw it into a drawer. When the chemistry settles down and colors darken, I look at it a couple of weeks later I think 'I must be some kind of genius.' "
"People always say to me 'That one looks like a Rothko painting' to which I reply, 'Do you think he’ll be pissed?' "