Visual Artist Works | Opal Ecker DeRuvo

  Gaze (self portrait)

Digital Image, 2022

Gaze is an inverted long exposure image illuminated by a grid of laser light. The laser is a low powered linear laser beam like you might find a laser level. I built a PMW (pulse width modulation) circuit to create an adjustable strobe effect, and the grid is created by moving the laser horizontally and then vertically across my body while the shutter stays open.  I have been interested in the ability of the body to influence its environment, and thoughts about identity as a surface condition. 

Touch and Recognition I-VI, 2022.

Drywall, wood, construction adhesive, hinges, screws; giclée transfer prints; 96” x 152” x 38”, 2022.

Touch and Recognition took shape as part of my thesis and was made out of 6 hinged panels in sets of three. Each panel was 8′ by 2.5′ and consisted of an inkjet print transferred directly onto drywall, smaller fragmentary images were tucked into the nooks behind each piece. The images include both candid moments photographing my partner while he showered, studio shots illuminated by lasers and taken within a constructed bathroom I built in my studio, and an image of a laser interfering with itself creating bands of constructive and destructive interference (a phenomenon that exhibits some of light’s wave like qualities) 

Touch and Recognition I-VI (Detail 1);  

Drywall, wood, construction adhesive, hinges, screws; giclée transfer prints; 96” x 152” x 38”, 2022

The angles and arrangement of the panels gave rise to interesting parallax shifts and unexpected combinations of images, reordering themselves into new pairings while you circled them. 

Touch and Recognition I-VI (Detail 2);  

Drywall, wood, construction adhesive, hinges, screws; giclée transfer prints; 96” x 152” x 38”, 2022

Ultimately they led you to quiet corners and enclosures within the work and apart from the sense of exposure often found while standing in the emptiness of a gallery. I wanted these fragments to encourage a few moments of pause in the safety of a hidden alcove.

Projection I

Kallitype, palladium toned;  29.5” x 41”, 2021

The resulting images I then printed as large scale kallitypes, a similar process to palladium printing invented in 1889. The process involves mixing a light sensitive solution of Silver Nitrate and Ferric Oxalate, which is then hand coated onto a rag printmaking paper. The paper is then exposed to UV light in close contact with a digitally printed negative, and then developed through several more chemical baths to fix and stabilize the image. 

Projection II;

Kallitype, palladium toned; 29.5” x 41”, 2021

The projection series is made up of inverted long exposure images of light projections taken in the same constructed bathroom. These long exposures allowed me to photograph myself entering and leaving the frame, and investigated the way my body’s presence became visible through its distortions. of the grid projected onto it. 

Projection III;

Kallitype, palladium toned; Negative image of light projection; 29.5” x 41”, 2021

Untoned Kallitypes produce a variety of tones from warm brown to nearly black depending on the developer used, or instead they can be toned with a noble metal like platinum, gold, or palladium. By toning the print with palladium, the silver from the sensitizer is completely replaced by palladium and the print takes on a rich neutral black. 

Fractions Diptych;

Palladium toned; 35 images exposed at once per sheet; 41” x 60”, 2021

The Fractions Diptych is made with the same process but the sensitizer was only brushed under the 70 squares where the images would be aligned. Each sheet was then exposed a single time like a contact sheet. The images alternate between a body of images focusing on moments of touch and intimacy and a collection of experimental images exploring the unexpected behavior of light. 


Kallitype, palladium toned; Self portrait printed on two sheets hand seamed; 41” x 60”, 2021

This self portrait documents the complicated emotions brought up by a diy bang trim in my bathroom mirror. The intensity born out of my desire for linearity and perfection, the refusal of our mammal bodies to humor so many of our wishes, and the fragility of our sense of self when we scrutinize our reflection a little bit too long. 

Beshouy I; 

Gelatin sized salted paper print, palladium toned and waxed; 10” x 8”, 2022

This portrait of my friend and collaborator Beshouy, was printed as a salted paper print. Salted paper is the oldest permanent photographic process to be fixed on paper. It was invented by William Henry Fox Talbot in 1839, and uses an initial coating of Sodium Chloride (table salt) followed by a coating of Silver Nitrate to form the light sensitive Silver Chloride directly on the fibers of the paper. 

Collective Vision

2022; giclée transfer on drywall; 58” x 48”

This last image was again taken with the pulse width modulated laser. This technique for scanning surfaces through the deformation of light is used in 3d scanning and machine vision technology.  Here I am most drawn to it for the areas where it breaks down, where translucency obfuscates and disperses the light, but reveals something unique about the mechanics of photography and the mediation of lenses. Each strobe of the laser traces just a bit of a familiar scene, in a way that reminds me of the passing of days. Each impression of a familiar space stacks up on the last, barely noticed  like a layer of dust or sediment but crucial to our understanding of the space. 

About Opal Ecker DeRuvo:

Opal Ecker DeRuvo is a transfeminine transdisciplinary artist and collaborative printmaker. Using historic photo-processes, large scale image transfers onto architectural substrates, and laser imaging techniques (re-engineered from machine vision technology), their practice connects the materiality of photography with experiences of trans-embodiment.

They began printmaking as an apprentice to a master printmaker at the age of 14 and received their BFA in printmaking from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. For 6 years following their BFA they worked as a collaborative printmaker at the Center for Contemporary Printmaking in Norwalk CT. They grew up in a family of darkroom photographers, during their MFA at Yale in the painting and printmaking department their work has come to investigate the origins of photography within the materials and history of printmaking.

They are interested in the role of images in the formation of identity. Incorporating fundamental physics of light and the intricacy of our perception, their cross-disciplinary research looks to expand trans representation beyond the ways in which we are seen and toward new ways of seeing.

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