Artist and photographer Deena des Rioux was contacted by researchers Polaroid Graphics Imaging in the latter part of the 1990s for help with a special project. In response to demands from printers who were frustrated by proofing technology that required constant recalibration, the Polaroid group was experimenting was experimenting with a new kind of digital printing technology they called “dryjet” which was a type of phase-change inkjet printer technology (also called solid inkjet).

The group wanted one of des Rioux’s computer generated images to work with. Des Rioux, who had begun experimenting with computer generated images in 1989, created a unique image called Wireheader that Polaroid used over and over again as part of their experiments with phase change inkjet printer technology. Polaroid introduced its first DryJet system in 1997 and the DryJet II Advanced Digital Color Proofing System in 1998.

Wireheader has been shown at a number of exhibitions around the world. The MIT Museum which is home to the Polaroid Historical Company Collection has some examples of Polaroid’s experimental printing technology. For Deborah Douglas, Curator of Science and Technology, the work is an excellent example of how Polaroid worked with artists throughout its history to help develop new technologies and a helpful corrective to the misconception that Polaroid ignored digital image technologies. But the work also fits with the museum’s Art and Photography collections.

Want to see more? In the fall of 2019, the MIT Museum will open The Polaroid Project: At the intersection of Art and Technology, a traveling exhibition organized by the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography in collaboration with the MIT Museum and the WestLicht Museum in Vienna.