hether cooking, driving or eating we’re all familiar with the durable and non-rusting metal stainless steel. It was used in the 20’s for architecture, an example being the Chrysler Building, the Art Deco masterpiece in New York designed by architect William Van Alen. The building design echoes 1929 Chrysler vehicle ornaments such as radiator caps. Stainless steel has also been used in sculpture; and if you have visited Chicago you may have seen “the bean” a 110 ton stainless steel sculpture by artist Anish Kapoor called Cloud Gate. This sculpture is made up of 100 highly reflective stainless steel panels, however no seams are visible due to the highly polished treatment.

Nicolas Ruel, Anthology, Stockholm (8 secondes), 2009, photograph printed on stainless steel, 40 x 60 in. Ed./5 // 48 x 72 in. Ed./1

When Nicolas Ruel went looking for a medium to translate his large scale themes of cities, architecture, light and movement in photography, he found that stainless steel brought a “luminosity rendering the negative and white zones into metallic zones.” For his Projet 8 secondes, Ruel was looking for a canvas which would “interpret movement, light and depth, as if the viewer was taking part in the photographic space.” Ruel tells us, “working the light as a sculptural matter within photography becomes more tangible when printing on a highly reflective surface. The metal was relevant as an industrial material, prominent in the cities and in our daily life.” Photographs from the Projet 8 series, printed on stainless steel, reveal the feel of 3D depth and shimmer, drawing in the viewer as part of the space.

"The projet 8 secondes depicts an urban civilization in which the photographer explores daytime and nighttime settings in evocative cities such as Paris, Tokyo, New York and Sydney, captured in sustained intervals of eight seconds. This series, exclusively printed on stainless steel, benefits from the intrinsic and intense luminosity of its support material, rendering the negative and white zones into metallic tones. Based on a multitude of shifting and repositioning of the camera, the 8 secondes series bonds with the metal to create an aspect of three-dimensionality, fit for the urban subjects survey within the concept of the Monumental.

"Nicolas Ruel employs a long exposure, which evokes the aesthetics found in cinematography, capturing each scene into eight second-long “short features.” These instants are composed of key moments united into one single photographic element, which recalls, moreover, the condensed imagery of a dream. Following this, a juxtaposition of two or more pictures into a single image forms an inverted vision of the city. As a result, a famous architectural structure can be merged with cloud breaches, or a freeway with a futuristic railway station. Also, thanks to neutral density filters traditionally used in astronomy photography, the diurnal photo sessions are created within the same parameters as the nocturnal ones.

"This interconnected approach creates parallels between urbanism, architecture and the citizen, entities that become indivisible within a few tumultuous seconds. To tread the metropolis, to occupy it’s lineaments in order to ingest the anonymous masses and silhouettes, is something filmmakers such as Wong Kar-Wai and David Lynch have both captured, through emotive coloration and temporal sentience in the former, and through voluptuous and oppressive atmospheres in the latter. In this perspective, Nicolas Ruel fashions the city into a fictional motif at once anachronistic and vertiginous where, second by second, the impacts of an unencumbered gaze embed themselves."

-Annie Lafleur

Ruel’s different styles of photographs on stainless steel are attracting many collectors and the Projet 8 series is in the collection of Ashlar Urban, Canadiana Fund State Art Collection, Colart Collection, Irving, Loto-Québec, Microsoft Art Collection, MGM Grand, Ontario Power Authority, Power Corporation, Rothschild Investment Banking, SITQ, Warner Brothers, Private collections in America and in Europe.

Nicolas Ruel, Avalon, Sydney (8 secondes), 2009, photograph printed on stainless steel, 40 x 60 in. Ed./5 // 48 x 72 in. Ed./1

Nicolas Ruel Bio

Nicolas Ruel was born in Montreal in 1973. He began his studies in film and international relations before undertaking extensive travels during which he would obtain his training as a photographer. He worked in magazine photojournalism in Moscow (2000) and in Angkor Wat (2002) evolving more towards architecture and portraits. A number of Canadian and American magazines in architecture and design publish his photographs periodically. Through these projects emerges a collaboration which elaborates this gestural, structural language in complicity with Cirque du Soleil, Lalala Human Steps and several other modern dance companies.

Between 2006 and 2008, the photographer has presented his series - Inox, Elements and 8 secondes - in solo and collective exhibitions, notably in Canada at Galerie Orange (Montreal), Galerie Lacerte art contemporain (Quebec), Thompson Landry Gallery (Toronto) and in France at Galerie Seine 51 (Paris). His works have been shown amongst several international art fairs in Toronto (2005-2008), Miami (2006, 2008, 2009), Palm Beach (2006, 2007, 2009) and Paris (2007). His work has been honoured by numerous prizes and distinctions : in 2004, he won the LUX Grand Prix award and during the same year, the Canadian Association of Photographers and Illustrators in Communications (CAPIC) awarded him first prize.