Those looking to have their ideas about contemporary photography turned upside down will not be disappointed by the groundbreaking exhibit of Ian Ruhter’s work opening this week at the Palo Alto-based Art Ventures Gallery.
The show, Perfect Imperfections, run February 1 through March 18, 2018. It will feature a range of one-of-a-kind art works using the wet plate collodion process, a technique first discovered in the 19th century, which utilizes collodion, silver nitrate, and other chemicals to produce hand-made photographs. Ruhter has taken this process further, by using a truck as a camera and producing the only large-format ambrotypes ranging in size from 24 x 30 to 48 x 60.
Ian engineered the world’s largest wet plate collodion camera using a delivery truck. The vehicle serves as both a camera and a mobile dark room. The image is projected onto metal (for a tintype) or glass (for an ambrotype) that Ian and his wet plate technician Will Eichelberger then expose to light, processes, and fixes with chemicals outside the truck. In this way, he has found that he can actually enact the functions of a camera from within. “I realized I could actually work in a way that made my brain the computer while my arms and legs would work together with the mechanical components,” says Ruhter.
The show will include the largest wet plate collodion photograph in the world: a 66 x 90 image that was taken using a dilapidated home in Bombay Beach, California, as a camera.
“Ian Ruhter’s hand-made plates are deaccelerating and disrupting today’s snap shot photography,” says Katharina Bernau, founder of Art Ventures Gallery. “By using the most labor intensive way to produce a photographic image. The results are deeply beautiful, imperfect pieces of art that function essentially as wall sculptures.”