The photographer has set a goal for himself: to convert a 'retro' Russian military vehicle into something that would give a second life to an old-school photography technique dubbed ambrotype.
This is essentially an art of rendering perfectly realistic images on black cathedral glass – a visual language suited to expressing almost everything, even the glow of human eyes.
Why a Russian Cold War-era Ural truck, you ask?
Well, ambrotype images can solely be shot in pitch-dark premises, so the sealed compartment of the truck suits the intention just fine, since the pictures have to be developed within minutes.
Massive 150cm plates put into the truck can be driven to whatever location, which renders it possible to make gigantic (60" x 40") ambrotype landscape images right on site.
Commenting to Sputnik, Kurt enthusiastically remarked: "It’s not me who found the camera, but this camera has found me!" The "Lightcatcher" project first came to his mind after he restored the original 1907 Bellows camera, which he affectionately called "baby."
Impatient to make use of the giant device, Kurt turned his eyes to the picturesque Dolomite region in his native Italy, and said he has "rediscovered" his home country. But in order to bring together the retro photography technique of 1850 – ambrotype – and the giant, two-meter camera, Kurt desperately needed a dark studio to house the equipment, and this is where the Russian truck came in handy.
"The ideal vehicle for getting into the mountains easily and working there. The truck is my camera, darkroom and home, all in one!" Kurt told Sputnik.
For the time being, Kurt and his team are carrying out their project in Italy’s Dolomite mountains, determined to produce unique "direct positive photographs of the rocky area as well capture the last generation of mountain farmers" who live up in the mountains.
Once this part of the project is over, Kurt has shared with Sputnik his willingness to proceed still further. One day he would like to go to another continent — namely the Sahel area in northern Africa, with the to target the elusive Tuareg Lords of the Desert. One of the options is to embark on the UNESCO project on the Aeolian Islands, which is snapping up the last generation of fishermen on this volcanic archipelago.
"And, last but not least, we also thought about going to the Altai Mountains in Russia," Kurt remarked. He cited an ethnographic expedition there in late 18th century, which they had original recordings of, namely glass negative plates which they might take a chance to explore in depth.
READ MORE: Dazzling Winners of 2018 Sony World Photography Awards
He went on to say that the project had been financed only in part – through fundraising on "Kickstarter" last year; and his team continues to look for sponsors. They have already come up with an ambitious schedule of exhibitions: starting from South Tyrol in Italy to Berlin, later on.
Thanks to its outstanding ethnographic and cultural contribution to the Dolomites region, the Lightcatcher project secured the patronage of the local UNESCO department – just one step towards "expanding into an international documentary project for unique landscapes and cultures," its press release states.