It’s plant photography, but not as we know it… the California-based photgrapher Robert Buelteman has spent years crafting extraordinary images of flowers, by running literally thousands of volts through them, then taking pictures to capture amazing, otherworldly images of the electricity streaming through the plants.
It’s an extraordinarily difficult process. Buelteman needs to set his flowers up perfectly, which involves carving the delicate plants with a scalpel, and placing them in liquid silicone before zapping them. Then he paints them – using a fibre-optic cable.
It can take him up to 150 tries to get an image right. Between 1999 and 2007 he spent up to 60 hours per week on this. Buelteman speaks of the craftsmanship that he puts in as a valuable part of the work itself – sure, you could just go and Photoshop flowers to give them a blue glow, but to Buelteman that just wouldn’t be the same as the labour of love which he puts in to get these real-life images of flowers glowing with blue electric light
He says that “What others may regard as hard work, I see as an opportunity for self-expression and contribution.”Although he doesn’t want to talk too much about any ‘meaning’ behind his work: “While it is currently in vogue for every piece of contemporary art to have an accompanying intellectual dialogue, I allow the work to speak for itself. There is too little attention paid to the immense difference between the world as described and the world as sensed. My art lives in that gap.”