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This Photographer Works Without a Camera

The energetic photograms of Robert Buelteman.

Robert Buelteman has had a successful career as a black-and-white landscape photographer. But on a contemplative night sitting in the Mojave Desert reflecting on life and loss, he decided to head in a fresh direction. “I always had this burning desire to create some kind of new distinction in photography,” he tells Airows.

His photograms are made by passing fiber-optic light through a probe (about the diameter of human hair) into botanic materials placed on state-of-the-art color film. “In addition to using visible light,” he says,"I capture the invisible spectrum of the ultraviolet by passing high voltage electrical currents through the plant as it's laying on the film.”

Buelteman has a keen self-awareness of the place of his unique work in the history of “cameraless” photography. “The first photograph ever made in 1836," he explains, "was made by Fox Talbot, who took a piece of paper, painted light-sensitive silver crystals on it, then put a plant on it and put it out in the sunshine…”

We dig it.