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Robert Buelteman : electophotography of flowers
Artist's Notes Technical NotesCuratorial NotesBack the Buelteman Gallery

Curatorial Notes

Photography has been associated with art since its very beginning. Painters will often use photography as a foundation for their paintings. (This paradoxically causes painters to view a photograph as an unfinished painting, and photographers to view a painting as a bad copy of a photograph.)

Photography has come to be accepted as an art form in its own right, taking up the traditional subjects of landscapes and portraits, as well as venturing into abstractions and conceptual art. For the most part we think of photography through the use of a camera, taking a scene as our eye would see it and transposing it onto a stable medium. This is done through the curious physics of light, where the camera can maintain an image through a small aperture. This was first done with a simple pinhole, then later controlled though sophisticated lenses. We are recreating an image from reflected light.

But there is another form of photography that goes back to the very beginnings of the craft: contact imaging, often called the photogram. Here you place the object between light and the photographic medium, and photograph, not the reflected light, but whatever light is not blocked by the object. Essentially you photograph the shadow. Fox Talbot did wonderful things with lace, Man Ray used safety pins. If this seems a bit primitive, then consider that the X-Ray is a form of contact imaging.

Buelteman's images become more fascinating when you realize that he is not photographing the flowers as artifacts of reflected light, nor is he working with their shadows, but has made the botanicals their own light source.

Buelteman has essentially taken an ancient form of photography, added some botanicals, set up complex high voltage sources, added some lighting, and an artist's touch. The results are a creation like none other we have seen.

Photography works because it is real. Art works because of its composition. Combining the two is not easy, but when an artist successfully achieves this, it brings us a heightened sense not only of art, but of reality.

The Silicon Valley Art Museum is proud to present this wonderful combination of technology and art.

- James Stanley Daugherty

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