Lady Gaga Feat. Polariod: "Camera Glasses" That Take "Seeing and Being Seen" to New Dimensions

Lady Gaga wearing the "Camera Glasses" she helped
design for Polaroid
This past week Polaroid launched a rebranded line of camera equipment and accessories with the help of new creative director Lady Gaga. Debuting at the largest and most important consumer electronic show on the planet—the CES in Las Vegas—the new line of products produced under Polaroid’s “Grey Label” will feature three new products: the GL10 Instant Mobile Printer, GL30 Instant Digital Camera and the GL20 Camera Glasses. Of these, the Camera Glasses have immediately captured media and public attention at the CES as a truly innovative and provocative way to merge both the act of taking and producing pictures with the function of instantaneous display and self-fashioning—the glasses as touted by the company allow users to instantly capture or upload photos with the built-in camera and then display the images on the glasses' LCD screens for others to view.

Reading Polaroid’s press releases about its partnership with Gaga, it is clear that the company is attempting to tap into its long history and recognition as a chosen medium for a range of contemporary art practices: “This collaboration between two cultural icons reflects Polaroid's long standing tradition of innovation tracing back to founder Dr. Edwin Land and Lady Gaga's mission to deliver products that enable creativity for all, celebrate artistry and make sharing instantaneous across the physical and digital. The inaugural Polaroid Grey Label line is truly expressive of Lady Gaga's artistic vision… "I consider myself to be a visionary, not just a songwriter and a singer. I am an artist," said Lady Gaga, Polaroid's Creative Director. "I brought my vision and love of fashion, technology and obsession with the future into all of my work with Polaroid."”

A close up look at the GL20 Camera Glasses set to go on sale this coming year
Lady Gaga goes on to explain that all of the new Polaroid Grey Label products communicate “three essential elements of self-expression” including:

  • Creativity: “All Polaroid Grey Label products are designed with the idea that creativity and sharing go hand in hand, in both the digital and the physical world.”

 • Instant Artistry: “All features found in Polaroid Grey Label products celebrate, express and bring an element of artistry and originality to the act of image making.”

 • Fashion: “Intended to be just as much everyday fashion accessories as innovative imaging tools, all Polaroid Grey Label products feature unexpected design elements such as leather touch points, brushed metal and exposed mechanical details.”

You know who enjoying his Polaroid camera
I am fascinated by the potential that the camera glasses offer both to the lay public and the art community at large. At the most basic level, the camera glasses set out yet another dimension of “seeing and being seen” which raise questions about increasing isolationism in today’s mediated and digitally networked culture. On the other hand, the camera glasses provide a provocative new medium through which to explore, unpack, and discuss the complex process of self-display and self-fashioning that often gets effaced in the apparently “seamless” world of digital imaging. It will be left to be determined if this is just another product to feed  a self-absorbed and image obsessed culture or a product that will help expose some of its many mechanisms. Either way, Lady Gaga (like other famed artist icons before her-- see image above) has her finger on the contemporary cultural zeitgeist. 

YouTube clip discussing the Polaroid Grey Line from this past week's CES show in Las Vegas: