Ben Hauser began his photographic career as a sophomore in high school. His passion for the subject developed rapidly and he was soon drawn towards color film and rusted rural subjects. During his senior year, he wrote a Strnad Fellowship Grant which allowed him to carry out an ambitious project- Photography in Hale County, Alabama: Following in the Footsteps of Walker Evans and William Christenberry. After a series of correspondences, Ben was able to meet with Christenberry. The high-school photographer had the opportunity to converse and share his images with the nationally renowned artist.
In 2003, Ben attended the School of Art at Ohio University where he worked very closely with Dan Williams. As a student, Ben placed a particular emphasis on composition and the standards of traditional color darkroom printing. Ben received a Dean’s Undergraduate Research Award to produce his senior thesis, a project titled Muhlenburg County. Ben incorporated lyrics from John Prine’s song, Paradise to help create a somber and nostalgic rust-belt allegory. Working with color film in a variety of formats, Ben photographed a series of deficit and vacant industrial sites in Cleveland and along the Ohio River.
After receiving his B.F.A., Ben returned to Cleveland and began to photograph abandoned industrial machines at night. Using 35mm film and long exposures, he captured the bizarre colors and theatrically charged effects of streetlights on rusted machines. This experimental vision led to his Spiritual Industrial project- a radical departure from his previous treatment of the industrial subject. Ben’s work evolved conceptually with his invention of the Sodagraph and the Enigma-Graph, photographic printing processes that produce unforeseen, one-of-a-kind results.
Ben’s works evolved into camera-less imagery with his portfolios Quicksilver and An Alchemist’s Light. To produce these works, Ben has invented a set of techniques that transform the darkroom process into a means of creating an image, rather than a series of steps by which one develops a traditional photograph. Darkroom process as ceremony has become a central concept for the artist.
Ben has exhibited recent portfolios at the Butler Institute of American Art, Zygote Press, and the Artist Archives of the Western Reserve. He has displayed his work internationally in India. Ben has completed a year-long internship in the Department of Photography at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and he now works with the museum’s Department of Education and Interpretation.