The lovely thing about expired film is its unpredictability and inconsistency, which in some circumstances isn't necessarily such a lovely thing. But paired with a mystical, remote location like Iceland, the textures and color variations become a strength. Oakland, CA-based photographer Paul Hoi finds that the variations in expired Polaroid film, amounting to what is essentially decay of the chemicals, work well for shooting in otherworldly locations.
Psychedelia: Polaroids from Iceland, from which ten of the series' sixteen images are shown above, portray an eerie dreamland. He describes stylistically, he aspires "toward the strange grounds between psychedelia and neon-soaked noir," working with both analog and digital processes. In September 2014, Hoi set out on a two-week journey around Iceland's Ring Road, which connects the entire country. I'll let his statement explain the process:
I traveled alone with a 4x4, and would often wake up in the morning to surroundings that, due to the immensely diverse microclimates, looked and felt unrecognizable from the day before. This echoed and compounded from one day into another, and my sense of space and time felt increasingly disjointed and suspended. Without company and in unfamiliar surroundings, each morning felt as though I’d woken up into a strange, uncanny dream sequence. Psychedelia: Expired Polaroids from Iceland is a series that explores this process of dissolution.
Hoi lived in Hong Kong until he was nine years old, then moving to the United States with his family and facing the challenges of such a drastic change. The feelings toward and associations with what is familiar were challenged as well, and he explains that the camera became a tool to examine and document his surroundings:
That feeling and understanding stuck with me as I picked up my first camera, and it grew alongside a curiosity of people’s complicated relationship to their transient surroundings - a relationship colored by both grief and awe.
In my own experience viewing as well as using decades-old film technology, especially of the instant variety is its ability to evoke timelessness. The images above could have just as easily been taken forty years ago and we would be none the wiser. Forget Instagram filters; every image comes with its unique flaws, even fingerprints--so we can count in the human element here. It's refreshing to know that a person made these, producing each one individually. There is an instant authenticity to film images that, at least in Hoi's hands, invite the viewer to imagine that these unusual, blurred, occasionally obscure images are what a dream or a memory looks like on paper.