The Polaroid Wall: A Look Back at IPA, The Editing House

IPA was founded in 1982 and for the next 18 years served as a creative home for the Chicago area video community. On the wall in its kitchen was a collection of 2,620 Polaroid photos taken over the years of production shoots, late night editing sessions, new equipment installations – remember your excitement over 8” floppy disks? –and its legendary parties.

Now The Polaroid Wall is available as an app for iPhones and iPads you can swipe, zoom or search by name, year or themes to see the exhilaration that fueled those early days of video. It is part history and part graphic novel inspired by the whimsical captions on each photo, but mostly fun.

The 380 people listed in the search directory include video artists Skip Blumberg, Bill Viola, Shigeko Kubota, Annette Barbier, John Manning, Janice Tanaka, and Starr Sutherland; documentary producers Scott Craig, Bill Kurtis, Chuck Olin, Gordon Quinn, and Tom Weinberg; and hundreds of other artists and filmmakers who have gone on to become leaders in their field, including two foundation heads and two university presidents.

IPA founder Scott Jacobs calls The Polaroid Wall the video equivalent of Middlemarch, George Eliot’s classic novel about 19th century life in a small English mill town. “Eliot was writing about the start of the industrial revolution. What you see in the IPA wall is the start of a media revolution, when television was moving from analog to digital,” he says. “By clicking through the photo strings of different people or themes, you get different angles on the forces that were changing the media landscape.”

Here is the 30-second video that accompanied the app release. You can view a free non-searchable version on or download the interactive app ($3.99) from The Apple Store. (Sorry, no Android version – yet.)





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