Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Life In B&W
Robert Buelteman is starting over, rediscovering the landscape he left long ago
“I don’t believe there’s anything more powerful than the human imagination,” Buelteman explains. “I’ve had a lot of arguments about it and I don’t want to make the claim that I have it figured out and this is right because there’s beautiful color landscape work; but for me, black-and-white is the literature from which the book is created in the mind of the viewer. They look and they see those simple shades of gray and they can generate on their own: Is it winter or is it spring? Is that the birth of the moment or is that the death of the moment? What is it that I’m seeing? To me, that’s the fundamental quality that black-and-white imagery has, that it will always have, over color—whether it’s digital, analog or whatever. I think that great photography, like great literature, is an open door, not a definition.”
He’s reluctant to identify how his new mind-set may manifest in his work, but Buelteman knows for certain how that new philosophy fits into his life.
“Most of what I see is the transitory nature of things,” he says. “I used to be very interested in the grand vista, a kind of Ansel Adamsy ‘man and the mountain’—the grandeur, the strength, the power, the intensity. That’s kind of how it showed up for me 30 years ago. It shows up very differently now. Whatever is here will be gone, some of it soon and some of it not so soon, but it will be gone. That means everything. Your health, your loved ones, suffering, all these things come and go. I’ve found that I’m much more interested in the transitory nature of things.
“You spend three years present to the fact that we’re all just a big bag of protoplasm waiting for either the grave or illness or who knows what else,” Buelteman says. “Life is unpredictable. My world is so different that words can’t express just how very different it is now. I wake up grateful every day.”
To see more of Robert Buelteman’s work, visit www.buelteman.com.
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