A handy guide to the distinctions of the integral photograph.

(The astute will notice that this is ongoing...)

While the following modes can overlap (because of its immediacy it possess temporal authority), gain or retreat in importance depending on a specific use, or depending upon whether they are looked at in relation to analogue and/or digital practices, such distinctions function as as a means of investigating - of specifying - the integral photograph. 

The vanishing mediator 

vanishing mediator is a concept that exists to mediate between two opposing ideas, as a transition occurs between them. At the point where one idea has been replaced by the other, and the concept is no longer required, the mediator vanishes.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanishing_mediator (Page was last modified: 30 June 2013).





There is only one integral photograph: a contradiction of photography (yet referencing the first photograph. The medium incorporates the histories of photography.)

(To what degree is the unexposed Polaroid singular? A latent physicality...)


This term relates not only to the way in which the image is exposed, but also to its development. To reiterate once again, this text is concerned with the user's experience of the medium not the production of the medium and its supporting technologies (the camera, the close-up lens, etc.) As an analogy, it is concerned with turning the television on, now how the television comes to be on; it is concerned with driving the car, not how the combustion engine is manufactured, or how it actually works.  This notion of simplicity for the user is directly engaged with by Land and his associates as a means of promoting and selling the product.


This is important in two main ways: the proximity of the photographer to the camera and the developing image which highlights a lack of mediating stages; and  the proximity of the photographer to the subject. While, of course, proximity relates to all photographies (Virillio, for instance, has well documented the relationship between photographic technology and military surveillance) the integral Polaroid affects a closeness, or what Buse terms 'intimacy.'  This closeness is manifest in a number of fictional novels, as well as as non-fictional criminal accounts and reports


While the term is both broad and contestable, the relationship between what is photographed and the photograph itself is a central function.  That such a theoretical application to the photograph has become more pronounced recently is no-doubt due to the very rupturing of such a function engendered by the abilities of the digital where by no physical 'causality or connection' is necessarily required. Perhaps however, a more neutral term, and one that reflects common (social) usage is  'evidential'.


The time in which it takes the Polaroid to be ejected from the camera from the moment of exposing the film, and the time it takes for the ejected image to develop: a fluid process heralded by the whirl of the ejecting Polaroid.

Temporal authority

(The limitations of the) film pack.

The children's novel... has as its conceit a boy marooned on an island. Apart from the clothes he stands in, the only other possession he has is a Polaroid camera: it it the taking of the ten shots that punctuate the narrative, that help him negotiate the problems he encounters and finally, with the tenth shot, lead to his rescue.

The limited number of shots in the pack, 10, 12 and more recently, with respect to The Impossible Project, 8.

In addition, a number of common themes concerning discussions of integral photography can also be identified:





  • Postcards from the North. Horus & Deloris Contemporary Art Space. Sydney, Australia. 17/02/2010.
  • The Instant: Firehouse. New York. USA. 26/07/08 (theinstant.org/).
  • Untitled: Centre for Contemporary Art. Preston. UK. 12/03/08 - 19/03/08.
  • Polarama (an eclectic mix of international Polaroid artists): Folly. Lancaster. UK. 02/07/02 –10/08/02.
  • Shadow: An excellent cafe / record shop / gallery space in Bristol (UK). Back in 1998 or '99...


  • Bridges: Maritime Museum, Lancaster. UK, 24/01/04 – 24/04/04.
  • Bridges: Folly. Lancaster. UK. 21/03/03 – 15/04/03.
  • Polarama (an eclectic mix of international Polaroid artists): Folly. Lancaster. UK. 02/07/02 –10/08/02.


related education:

  • Masters by research: Pentimento: A (re)evaluation of the integral Polaroid. University of Central Lancashire. UK. 2008.
  • City & Guilds 7307 – Certificate in Teaching Adult Learners. Lancaster and Morecambe College. UK. 2003.
  • BA (Hons). Photographic Art: 2:1. University of Wales College, Newport. UK. 1999.