SUPERSENSE–Home of Analog Delicacies–Now Offers 20x24 Polaroid Prints

The charm and community of a local coffee shop beckons to creatives as a place where literature, art, and music are freely discussed by patrons in hushed passionate conversation while huddled over their favorite cup of coffee.

One such coffee house–or, kaffee bar—is SUPERSENSE. It's located on the ground floor of a Venetian Palazzo hidden in the heart of Vienna, Austria. The building is a unique historic landmark built by Maximilian Haas with the help of architect Carl Caufal in 1898. I’m already in love with the place and have never even seen it with my own eyes.

Actually, SUPERSENSE is much more than a coffee house. It’s much more than just a retail store. It’s a place of artistic exploration and discovery. It’s a place where the creative method is alive. They are, in a sense, a manufacturer of analog sensations.

It’s a place to let your curiosity roam and to stir the embers of inspiration deep in your creative soul. One such example of this found inside SUPERSENSE is "a kind of living room equipped with simply the ultimate all-analog studio gear rescued worldwide. Including a professionally restored Neumann AM 32 B master stereo disc recording lathe. With this magic machine and setup, SUPERSENSE hand-cuts lovely smelling master records, and is one of the very last places globally that offers highest quality "Direct-To-Disc" live recordings.” Ah, the glorious renaissance of analog vinyl in the heart of Vienna is alive and well.

SUPERSENSE is also a workshop. Not just any workshop. You are not merely a passive spectator nor detached observer. You can become part of the experience. According to SUPERSENSE: "We love to create our products in front of your weary eyes. In the best case, we even produce them not only FOR but WITH you. Following the old tradition of retail, it is essential for us to reveal the production process and to meet the manufacturer whenever possible. For us, this is not only the past but also the future of retail in a more and more globalised world."

SUPERSENSE founder Florian Kaps

SUPERSENSE founder Florian Kaps

SUPERSENSE founder Florian Kaps previously served as the leading manager of the Lomographic Society. That should give you a clue that Florian is driven towards the analog. Running in the opposite direction is a trait Florian has had since his early childhood. So it’s no surprise that as digital media became mainstream, he would react by founding a distinctly analog endeavor called the The Impossible Project in 2009. The purpose of this was to keep Polaroid photography alive. Then, in 2014, Florian–along with his partners Nina Ugrinovich and Andreas Eduard Hoeller–founded SUPERSENSE. It was a dream come true for Florian–creating what he calls, "a perfect analog delicatessen store, dedicated to analog things with an authentic story and passionate artisans behind." With lots of care and love Florian is now sourcing, selecting and presenting analog treasures that touch all senses.

One such treasure added to SUPERSENSE's shop of analog curiosities is the legendary Polaroid 20x24 camera.

You may remember the fascinating discussion about the history of the Polaroid 20x24 project with John Reuter in episode 171 of the Digital Convergence Podcast. In an age of ephemeral digital media, analog media appears to be making a resurgence of sorts. For me, the physicality of analog art provides a deep connection with the artist. I can touch the art. I can see the brush strokes of the artist. I can see the slight smudges of fingerprints of the artist. I can see their hand-written signature upon their creation. No two works of art are the same. The lack of physical connection often leaves me feeling dissatisfied with digital art. Of course, there certainly is a place for both the digital and analog. However, my heart is more deeply moved by the analog. Hence, my fascination with the Polaroid 20x24 camera that led to the interview with the ever gracious John Reuter.

Access to the 20x24 Polaroid camera is limited by its shear size. You, as the artist, have to go where these behemoth cameras live in their studio sanctuaries. Fortunately, Florian Kaps has developed an extremely clever way to bring access of the Polaroid 20x24 camera to artists and photographers around the world.

Marlene Kelnreiter of SUPERSENSE wrote to me and explained: "At the click of a mouse everybody can now expose personal, digital images with the legendary 20x24 camera. Customers simply send their digital photographs to SUPERSENSE, where one of the seven worldwide available 20x24 camera giants is located. Through a hand-built tool invented by Henny Waanders, a former Polaroid camera developer, the SUPERSENSE 20x24 experts expose digital images from an iPad Mini's retina display through the 20x24 camera onto 20x24 film. Not being a digital print-service but a unique analog exposure-service on instant film, the results depend on a highly complex chemical reaction, being neither predictable nor reproducible."

Your digital image is displayed full-screen on a retina iPad Mini.

Your digital image is displayed full-screen on a retina iPad Mini.

The iPad Mini is placed in a special custom made mount onto the Polaroid 20x24 camera and the exposure is made.

The iPad Mini is placed in a special custom made mount onto the Polaroid 20x24 camera and the exposure is made.

Marlene continues, "As the only place on earth SUPERSENSE transforms digital images into real high quality 20x24 instant photographs. Upon appointment, customers can even watch the transformation of their digital photos via the SUPERSENSE livestream."

The beautifully finished one-of-a-kind 20x24 Polaroid image. I would be smiling, too!

The beautifully finished one-of-a-kind 20x24 Polaroid image. I would be smiling, too!

I love this idea! You can send your digital image to SUPERSENSE, and actually watch them through live streaming as they transform your image into a 20x24 print. The idea of watching them create a Polaroid 20x24 image of my work remotely keeps me as the artist connected with the process. Each print is a unique production because of the unpredictable results of the analog process of creating a Polaroid print. Sweet! Of course, you can go to Vienna and participate in the creation of your work right there in the SUPERSENSE workshop (and perhaps smell the aroma of coffee in the air of the shop). Come to think of it I owe my dear wife a trip back to Europe. Vienna, Austria sounds like the perfect place to take her. I’m sure the accountant in her (after all, she is my company’s CFO) will appreciate my clever idea to expense the business side of the trip. But, I digress...

So how much does the service cost? The cost of the 20x24 print is EUR 250 (or at the time of writing about $268). This is comparable with many high end giclee (fine art ink jet) printing services. They ship the developed 20x24 photo to you from Vienna in an art edition roll. It’s the perfect marriage of digital and analog media.

I will always enjoy soaking in the aroma of brewing coffee and the culture of the traditional coffee house as a lair of artists and creatives. One day soon I hope to take in that wonderful aroma in person in Vienna at SUPERSENSE where the creative method is flourishing in Florian Kaps' curious shop of analog wonders.

SUPERSENSE main website
SUPERSENSE large format Polaroid prints

Article, Photography, ArtCarl Olson