Ambrose & Wether is the pseudonymous partnership of a photographer and a writer. As a sideline to their established and better-known work, in 2011 the two began collaborating on a series of erotic tintypes shot entirely in wet-plate collodion with an Eastman View Camera No. 2-D, a large-format camera dating to the 1920s.

Unfulfilled Desires is in part an homage to early-twentieth-century commercial and vernacular erotica, the studio work of Yva Richard and Ernst Schertel. It follows in the much darker shadow of Joel-Peter Witkin. And of course there is a sexual purpose here—we intend to arouse and titillate. But Unfulfilled Desires also contemplates the nature of contemporary longing, the idea of fetish as Walter Benjamin understood it, as a displacement of organic by inorganic desire, and the fate of the one-of-a-kind and unique within a familiar and longer running narrative of mechanical reproduction, its modern rise and more recent collapse.

As a series of erotic objects, these photographs tempt a deeper longing to consume and to connect ourselves in an image world of absent people, events and places. They feed an unfulfilled desire which grew in tandem with photography, and which has only increased with modern visual stimulation, with ephemeral overabundance and easy digital consumption.

Perhaps, in truth, we are creating relics, potent visual and tactile objects, irreproducible handwork in an era of digital photography. At a time when objects give way to disembodied abstracted images and stored information, each photograph here is a unique, direct positive image on metal. Each object was present with its subject at its creation. Each tintype promises something more than simply an image. But these are only photographs. An erotic world once removed. Real and imagined sexuality. Arousing. Desire unfulfilled.

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