IAN RUHTER: Time Traveler
IAN RUHTER set out on a journey. This journey led him to an 1800’s process called wet plate collodion, which revived his love for photography. This adventure proved wildly challenging and costly, but ultimately tremendously rewarding. Ian’s extraordinary ‘silver and light’ images are one-of-a-kind masterpieces. He turned an ordinary box van into a time machine. This device allowed him to travel the way you would in a dream. Taking him backward into the future. A future where you paint with silver and light. Rebellious, visionary and passionately perseverant in the quest to achieve his creative goals, Ian elegantly reminds us of the tremendous value and incomparable reward of ‘doing what you love’.
To see how the collodion wet plate process works and learn more valuable lessons about creativity from Ian, watch his amazing short film: HERE.
See more of his other photography work, please visit: www.ianruhter.com
Interview by Melissa Unger
WHAT INITIALLY INSPIRED YOU TO BEGIN TAKING PHOTOGRAPHS?
As a child, I had a hard time communicating my thoughts and feelings to the world. My dyslexia left me feeling like I didn’t have a voice. I was treated differently than other kids. The moment I found photography I found the missing piece I was looking for my whole life. This was the moment I began sharing my feelings with the world.
WHAT SPARKED THE IDEA TO EXPERIMENT WITH/EXPLORE THE COLLODION WET PLATE PROCESS?
As my career progressed, “technological advances” in the digital image-making process replaced the “old” way of making images and I ended up spending all of my time in front of a computer editing code rather than capturing life. I began to lose all connection to the search for the most important component of the photographic art. This all changed when I began working with the wet plate collodion process. The silver used in this 19thCentury process reflects light in a way that no other film can.
I’M FASCINATED BY YOUR IDEA TO CONNECT AMERICA THROUGH IMAGES AND STORY VIA THE POWER OF SOCIAL NETWORKS. TELL US MORE ABOUT HOW THE IDEA WAS BORN:
One of the most inspiring things about this process is the photographers that used it in the 1800s. They were on the forefront of science, art and technology. Their photographs were so powerful that they became part of American history. My idea is to continue in there spirit. I don’t want to work with this process like I am in the a 19th Century. I am working with wet plate collodion as a 21st Century process; utilizing every piece of technology available. The creation of the internet, I believe, to be one of the greatest inventions of our time. It has allowed us to connect with everyone in the world instantaneously. This project will explore the power of that connection. Because this connection is so powerful, even though the photographs will be shot in America, they will connect with the entire world instantaneously.
YOU WERE ALSO A PROFESSIONAL SNOWBOARDER. HOW DO THE SKILLS YOU MASTERED AS AN ATHLETE TRANSLATE TO YOUR ART?
When I started snowboarding it was very close to its beginning. Snowboarding at that time was not considered a sport. It was actually looked down upon by most of society. It was about rebelling, doing something different from what was considered the norm. Being able to do something that had no rules gave us the ultimate creative freedom. At this time, you weren’t even allowed to snowboard at most ski resorts. This led us into the backcountry of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. In these mountains I fell in love with the landscape. I witnessed the power and beauty of mother nature.
NATURE SEEMS TO PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN YOUR CREATIVITY. PLEASE TELL US A BIT ABOUT THAT:
Mother nature is the creator of all art.
YOU’VE DRAWN PARALLELS BETWEEN YOUR PASSION AND ADDICTION. TELL US ABOUT HOW YOU FEEL WHEN YOU ARE CREATING AN IMAGE:
When I create images I create them in my dreams. Or maybe my dreams create them? These images that I see become so powerful that in a sense they become my destiny. When I awake, I spend weeks, sometimes months, searching for these scenes that I saw and felt. While I am dreaming, I explore extraordinary places and meet new people. When it happens in our reality, people call it deja vu. That is the moment that I take the picture.
YOU SUFFERED A LOT OF FRUSTRATING SETBACKS WITH THIS PARTICULAR PROJECT. CAN YOU SHARE SOME TIPS FOR OTHER ARTISTS/CREATIVES TO KEEP MOTIVATED WHEN THEY COME ACROSS MAJOR OBSTACLES IN THEIR WORK:
I believe in life we are our greatest teachers. Somewhere along the way, I have learned that every failure brings us one step closer to success.
IS THERE A PERSON OR EXPERIENCE THAT HAS BEEN CRUCIAL TO DEVELOPMENT AS AN ARTIST?
Growing up in a family that was as dysfunctional as ours was confusing as a child. I now realize I was raised by the greatest artists of all time.
TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOU THAT WOULD SURPRISE US:
I am really afraid of spiders.
ONE WORD THAT BEST DESCRIBES YOUR CURRENT STATE OF MIND:
Published: April 24th, 2012