Polaroid ID-2

Polaroid ID-2

Polaroid ID-2

Creator
Polaroid
Date(s)
1966

Polaroid ID-2

The ID-2 was a full color system introduced by Polaroid in 1966. The camera was able to process an ID “nearly instantaneously” with its patented photographic technology. The device was actually comprised of two cameras; one photographed the subject while the other photographed a copy of the surrounding ID; after the picture is taken, the machine composites the two images under a laminate with five hundred pounds of pressure per square inch. After 45 seconds, the ID would be completed and forgery was almost impossible because of the sealed-to-the-back, pressurized lamination. Because this camera was designed as an official “passport camera” and was used strictly for professional use, it had a metal body that did not fold (unlike other Polaroid cameras), and had a very high build quality and excellent optics. (Morgan 2006; "Polaroid" Camera Wiki).

One of the Polaroid ID-2’s most important design features was a “boost” button that when pressed would boost the flash exactly 42%. Polaroid advertised this spectial feature for general lighting pruposes. However, researchers and artists assert that the ID-2 camera was actually created for and catering specifically to South Africa’s policies of Apartheid., and boost button, The white minority South African government largely used this camera for dompas, or the passbooks, which helped to sustain the Apartheid regime via surveillance. This was partially because the device was portable, fast at taking and developing photos, and created difficult to forge images because of its powerful lamination. But the most compelling feature was that the boost button increased the flash’s intensity by the exact amount it took to account for the extra light absorbed by black skin: 42%.

Polaroid claimed only 20% of the film they sold in South Africa ended up being used for passports and according to Polaroid in 191, only 65 systems were sold before sales were stopped, and none of those systems were sold to government agencies. However, the Polaroid Revolutionary Workers Movement countered that sales were still going through indirect channels. Polaroid continued lying from 1971 to 1978, claiming that they had ceased supplying materials to the regime, when in fact there was an elaborate shell game which allowed them to sell through a third party (Caulfield 2015).

Sources
Bonanos, Christopher. "Polaroid and Apartheid." Polaroidland. Polaroidland, 06 Apr. 2013. Web. 02 Dec. 2015. http://www.polaroidland.net/2013/04/06/polaroid-and-apartheid/.
Caulfield, Mike. "Polaroid Revolutionary Workers Movement." Wordpress. October 31, 2015. Accessed December 16, 2015. https://hapgoodflp.wordpress.com/2015/10/31/polaroid-revolutionary-workers-movement/.
Foster, Grant. "Green Card vs Dompas Explained." Sapromo. March 1, 2015. Accessed December 11, 2015. https://www.sapromo.com/green-card-vs-dompas-explained/7783.
Knight, Cameron. "Going Instant: A Guide to Instant Cameras, Film and Photography." Envato Tuts. May 21, 2011. Accessed December 11, 2015. http://photography.tutsplus.com/articles/going-instant-a-guide-to-instant-cameras-film-and-photography--photo-6597.
Morgan, Eric J.. 2006. “The World Is Watching: Polaroid and South Africa”. Enterprise & Society 7 (3). Cambridge University Press: 521. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23700835.
"Polaroid." Camera Wiki. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2015. http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Polaroid.
Turnley, David. "David Turnley." Reframing Photography. Accessed December 11, 2015. http://www.reframingphotography.com/resources/david-turnley.
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