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arkady n.
4-Nov-2015, 12:38
"From inside the lens of a delivery truck converted into a camera, Ruhter becomes the machine’s very manual settings: the shutter and the processor, and also the “film,” which he makes from scratch on sheets of aluminum up to five feet wide. "

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/04/t-magazine/photographs-american-west-ian-ruhter-danziger.html

http://www.danzigergallery.com/exhibition/ian-ruhter

bob carnie
4-Nov-2015, 14:03
So how do you feel about the development errors?

For me they are very distracting to the point of why bother showing them. To others these images may the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Please do not take this the wrong way, as I completely understand how difficult this may be to produce, but the artifacts actually take away potential for me.

adelorenzo
4-Nov-2015, 14:10
Any flaws or errors in the plates don't bother me one bit. I've been following his work since the beginning and I've always liked it. He started out doing a lot of portraits which I liked even more than the landscapes.

Most people probably saw this three years ago but for those who haven't:


https://vimeo.com/39578584

vinny
4-Nov-2015, 15:07
meh. bigger ain't always better. some guys just can't stop at 8x10.

rbultman
4-Nov-2015, 16:51
The video that adelorenzo linked to is in itself fascinating. It is very well done. The work as presented in the video is inspirational and thrilling. I'd like to see the plates in person. The "flaws" don't bother me as the content is fantastic.

bhagatwebcreation
5-Nov-2015, 02:52
Quite fascinating video

A_Tabor
5-Nov-2015, 06:36
I'm a fan of very large format work. Minor flaws really aren't that distracting to me, anymore than being able to see the imprint of a chisel's mark on a stone statue is a distraction.

When you are getting up above 8x10, and especially when using wet plate, I start to see the process of simply taking the image as part of the art itself. The minor flaws and such that go along with it aren't a terrible thing, but part of the record of the act as a whole. Getting a flawless image is impressive and all that, but a few blemishes along the way don't really ruin anything.

goamules
5-Nov-2015, 07:38
Are you saying because it's ultra large, it cannot be free from flaws? I agree, it's hard to shoot flawless plates, big or small. In the 1800s, they just worked harder at it. Today, you do big, you are famous, even if the shots have major problems. In the 1800s, practitioners would never show a flawed plate.

Ruhter's plates are ok, some are pretty good, but most do have a lot of common mistakes. I wonder why he didn't just learn to fix those, before going for the gallery scene? http://images.exhibit-e.com/www_danzigerprojects_com/042.jpg is an example, decent, but poor exposure, developer lines, and it looks like some chemistry problems. But hey, he's in the NY Times now. There are much better wetplate lanscape photographers shooting the West the past few years, including Dunniway, Jacobson, and even Coffer.

Watkins, 1865 and 1861:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/21/Carleton_Watkins%2C_Yosemite_Valley%2C_California%2C_ca._1865.jpg/779px-Carleton_Watkins%2C_Yosemite_Valley%2C_California%2C_ca._1865.jpg

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/69/Carleton_E._Watkins_-_View_from_Camp_Grove%2C_Yosemite_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg/800px-Carleton_E._Watkins_-_View_from_Camp_Grove%2C_Yosemite_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

A_Tabor
5-Nov-2015, 09:14
Of course any sized format can be free of technical flaws, and if given the choice between the same image with and without flaws I am going to choose the flawless option in the vast majority of cases. (In some cases the stories that go with the flaws of an image make it that much more interesting. There is more to art than just pretty looking pictures after all.)

But just because every last detail is not perfect, that there were some flaw in methodology or theory during the practice of the craft, does not mean that what is produced is wholly without merit or any redeeming value.

goamules
5-Nov-2015, 09:21
I didn't say it was wholly without merit, though maybe other posters implied that. What I said is it exhibits flaws in technique and knowledge. People are given a pass for those problems in wetplate, because "wetplate is so hardddd"....(it's not)....and "that's the old timey look of the 1800s"....(it isn't). Now you are approaching the final misconception: that the artist "places these artifacts on purpose, for the effect..." Very, very seldom is that the case. Maybe with Sally Mann, who purposely slops chemistry around just for the flaws.

So, if someone made obviously flawed large format (or 35mm) film prints, would no one say anything? Would the person be worthy of a gallery and journalistic fame? No.

The final argument is "it's the composition that matters, even if there are a few flaws." Well, I'd agree if it was a carefully constructed still life, or a Decisive Moment capture of some great action (I saw a wetplate of a guy feeding seagulls today, that IS amazing). Maybe even a carefully lit portrait. But shooting the Yosemite Valley isn't any novel composition. It's capturing what God made, as millions of other photographers have done. So, what merit is a flawed, big plate of that? That it's big?

Rank Amature
5-Nov-2015, 19:15
Garrett,
Do you know if the plates you posted were wet plate or dry plates? Just curious - masterpieces either way!
Mark

Two23
6-Nov-2015, 06:36
I actually kind of like the flaws. I 'll agree that W.H. Jackson wouldn't have been happy with the the technical quality, but I think in our times the flaws help show this isn't another souless digital capture.


Kent in SD

Kirk Gittings
7-Nov-2015, 18:38
Sometimes I like minor flaws-it's characteristic of a lot of handcrafted arts. Some of the wet plate I see though just looks just plain incompetent-and yes I have done my own incompetent wetplate. I can't imagine a fine woodworker accepting the level of flaws that I see in many wet plates. That doesn't strike me as soulful but amateurish or lazy.

StoneNYC
7-Nov-2015, 22:25
I'm happy that the guy completed it, he's been working on this a long time and he's devoted his entire life to this, he doesn't do anything else, he doesn't spend time on forums criticizing other people's work either because he's too busy actually being out there shooting, I think that in itself is admirable. Not to mention the fact that he built an entire truck that is a Camera that functions and traveled the country shooting images with it.

If you dismiss this, and haven't done it yourself, IMO you haven't really earned the right to criticize.

Good for him.

baro-nite
8-Nov-2015, 05:32
If you dismiss this, and haven't done it yourself, IMO you haven't really earned the right to criticize.

The value of criticism depends on the critic's knowledge, judgment, and ability to communicate. These things aren't necessarily tied to direct experience. There have been some critical posts in this thread by knowledgeable photographers and I find it good food for thought. I admire Ruhter's effort too, but his work, as art, isn't entitled to a critical free pass just because he's the only one shooting plates of this size. He's pushing the idea of what's technically possible, but it's legitimate to ask why.

StoneNYC
9-Nov-2015, 00:33
The value of criticism depends on the critic's knowledge, judgment, and ability to communicate. These things aren't necessarily tied to direct experience. There have been some critical posts in this thread by knowledgeable photographers and I find it good food for thought. I admire Ruhter's effort too, but his work, as art, isn't entitled to a critical free pass just because he's the only one shooting plates of this size. He's pushing the idea of what's technically possible, but it's legitimate to ask why.

Agreed

Mark Sawyer
9-Nov-2015, 10:08
...but I think in our times the flaws help show this isn't another souless digital capture.

That's why there are so many apps to put wet plate flaws into our cell phone pix. Digital souls!

goamules
9-Nov-2015, 10:49
...If you dismiss this, and haven't done it yourself, IMO you haven't really earned the right to criticize...

So I guess the converse is also true; if you fawn over something that you haven't done yourself, you haven't earned the right to commend it...?

I don't know if you've done wetplate, but a lot of people that fall all over themselves about how great a flawed plate is, usually know nothing about the process. Basically, they don't know a good plate from a bad one. Like Kirk says, this probably happens less often in other art forms, like woodwoorking or pottery (though I've seen a lot of expensive, slumped over ceramics that are claimed to be treasures). Generally, if I see poor quality work, in any genre, I just don't buy it. But in areas that I know, like wetplate collodion that I've been doing for 8 years, taught workshops on, and been published with, I call a spade a spade.

Critics of The Kramer, reminds me of this discussion:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAPbZDit5_w

brucetaylor
9-Nov-2015, 11:35
142063
Duchamp's "Fountain"
Can we open our minds up a little more? It's called "art," so I guess it is. Why not? Do you like it? Hate it? Why? Is the idea behind the object interesting or meaningful to you? Is he trying to create flawless wetplates? I don't care.

I often find artifacts that refer back to the hand working of material interesting, both in visual art and music. There, now I'm a critic!

goamules
9-Nov-2015, 11:48
This discussion is becoming an abstraction. "Artifacts" from work, such as the chisel marks at the bottom of a marble sculpture, are one thing. Media errors due to not mastering your media are another. Jackson Pollack knew paints, and mastered splashing drops all over a canvas. My daughter was no master, when she decided to use her new finger paints on our living room carpet.

If you cannot create a basic [print, plate, sculpture, woodwork, etc] without major technical flaws done by accident [enlarger out of focus, developer lines, broken off fingers, chatter marks, etc], then by calling it "art" you cheapen those truly skilled practitioners. But you can buy The Kramer, or my daughters piece of stained carpet if you want.

I've said my peace, yall can argue until the cows come home about how a guy that hasn't learned his craft, entering a gallery, is commendable.

ndg
9-Nov-2015, 15:38
The art in wet plates is not in the flaws, not at all. Is in how clean your plate and silver bath are, how carefully you pour the collodion and sink the plate in the silver, how carefully you take it out, how good your exposure is, how gentle you develop, wash and later varnish the plate. When you do all that, there are hardly any flaws. Therein lies the artistry.

Randy Moe
9-Nov-2015, 15:55
Art is way more than good technique, but good technique never hurts.

brucetaylor
9-Nov-2015, 18:07
Art is way more than good technique, but good technique never hurts.

Nicely put, Randy.

Art and craft (good technique) don't always go together, often they do, but not always. In my day job I am a craftsman, not an artist.

bob carnie
10-Nov-2015, 06:52
I do a lot of solarization work, where there is no real rules or expectations.... I do throw out all the images with flow marks as I know I can do these types of prints without process error.

JoeV
10-Nov-2015, 18:11
The art in wet plates is not in the flaws, not at all. Is in how clean your plate and silver bath are, how carefully you pour the collodion and sink the plate in the silver, how carefully you take it out, how good your exposure is, how gentle you develop, wash and later varnish the plate. When you do all that, there are hardly any flaws. Therein lies the artistry.

I would argue that what you are describing is the craft of wetplate, being able to produce a technically clean plate. The art is in the image itself.

~Joe

ndg
10-Nov-2015, 18:55
Agree that the art is in the image but if the flaws are so much that they detract from the image or even become the art, then isn't the craftsmanship as important as the image?

ImSoNegative
10-Nov-2015, 20:51
I really don't understand how people like flaws in anything but they do, for example in some of my salt printing it seems people like to see brush strokes around the edges that actually break the image up (they say that is cool looking) than for everything to be nice and evenly covering the paper

StoneNYC
10-Nov-2015, 20:58
I really don't understand how people like flaws in anything but they do, for example in some of my salt printing it seems people like to see brush strokes around the edges that actually break the image up (they say that is cool looking) than for everything to be nice and evenly covering the paper

You can also take a technically perfect image that looks like crap because it's boring. Sometimes the beauty is in the intrigue the image evokes. A technically perfect image doesn't make you consider the medium, especially when you know nothing about the process, but one with flaws notifies you that this isn't just an ink jet digital image, it makes you wonder about how it was made, and let's you know this isn't an ordinary image.

In the sense that it surprises you when people post flawed images, it surprised me when people post boring images that look technically perfect, but have no soul.

I'm certainly guilty of that, I'm working to improve on that front, but it's something to consider.

Richard Johnson
11-Nov-2015, 07:42
No.

Ruther has been a shameless self-promoter seeking fame and fortune by being "bigger" not better. Just like the portrait photographer who did highly mediocre WP portraits of Hollywood stars at Sundance last year for Esquire (they sucked) the magazines and NYT will gush all over their bulls$it to the exclusion of really talented WP artists that actually mastered their craft.

Emphasizing the flaws and imperfections of WP is just a marketing game, an excuse, laziness. It's like the hipsters who think they deserve a medal for shooting a roll of 35mm film and then they post photos with all the dust and hairs from the scanning process as if it gives them authenticity when we all know they are just slobs.

At least Peter Lik cleans his crap up. Be brave enough to call a turd a turd.

If you feel otherwise then OK, I have a Starn Twins piece to sell you for $10 million.