Artist Zaps Flowers To Create Glowing Images -- Without a Camera

© Robert Buelteman

Does this beautiful image show the "aura" of this flower? It's hard to say, but based on the process of electro-photography -- a technique where high voltages of electricity are shot through various objects and recorded on a photographic plate -- San Francisco-based artist Robert Buelteman is experimenting with various plant materials and electrocuting them to reveal fascinating patterns, all without cameras or digital manipulation.

© Robert Buelteman

Also named Kirlian photography, after its accidental discovery in 1939 by Czech inventor Semyon Kirlian, electro-photography is a bit controversial, as it figures prominently in certain parapsychology research and pseudoscientific claims. The most well-known of which might be Masaru Emoto's investigation into the energetic "messages" found in Kirlian photographs of water, which due to his unconventional methods of research, has yet to be scientifically proven.

© Robert Buelteman
© Robert Buelteman

Nevertheless, as an artistic exploration, the technique creates some stunning work, as Buelteman's images show. Designboom details the artist's process:

Buelteman will begin the arduous process by meticulously whittling down foliage such as flowers, twigs and plants with a scalpel until they are almost transparent. He then lays each sample on color transparency film and covers it with a diffusion screen which is positioned on a piece of sheet metal sandwiched between plexiglas, floating in liquid silicone.

© Robert Buelteman
© Robert Buelteman

Buelteman zaps everything with an electric pulse and the electrons jump from the sheet metal, through the silicone and the flower while leaving the jumper cables. The result is hand-painted with white light shining through an optical fiber the width of a human hair - a process so tricky each image can take up to 150 attempts.

© Robert Buelteman

Regardless of the scientific implications of these images, they present a vibrant perspective into the unseen properties of lifeforms. More over at Robert Buelteman's website; his work is featured in his book "Signs of Life."

Tags: Artists | Arts