Sunday, April 18, 2010

Extreme Photography by Wayne Martin Belger

Wayne Martin Belger in his studio/workshop

Fine Art photography can be as unique and original as the artists themselves.  A few can be more extreme than others, if not in technique or concept, at least in approach.

Wayne Martin Belger's approach to his work is both unique and intriguing at the same time.  Instead of concentrating on technique, which most of us are concerned with, he has chosen to concentrate on the camera itself as an expression of his art.  Reducing technique to its most elemental form, pinhole photography, he turns our attention to the "camera" as the very subject and object of his art -- a metaphorical prism through which we can examine his subjects and gain a deeper understanding of his personal perspective and vision.

Born in Pasadena, California to religious parents, Wayne became interested religious rites and sacred practices when he was still a boy.  He became accutely facinated with the ritual tools used by the priests and holy men that enabled direct communion with the divine.  Employing the same materials used in sacred rituals by priests and shamans, metals in combination with organic parts (blood, bone, organs), he builds cameras that enable him to be in direct communication with his subjects.

Wayne starts each project by studying and researching them.  He then visualizes the photographs and starts collecting parts, artifacts and relics related to the subject.  He then builds a camera for each of his projects.  Some of the materials he has employed in his cameras are: Aluminum, Titanium, Copper, Brass, Bronze, Steel, Silver, Gold, Wood, Acrylic, Glass, Horn, Ivory, Bone, Human Bone, Human Skulls, Human Organs, Formaldehyde and HIV+ Blood.

As a photographer and camera collector, I am naturally drawn to Wayne's art -- it inspires me and gives me ideas for my own work.

Here is a good selection of Wayne's cameras and a photograph he took with each one of them:

Warning: Wayne's subject matter and material can offend and infuriate people with delicate sensibilities. Like any good work of art, it requires an open mind, so please proceed accordingly.  

HIV Camera : 4"x5" camera made from Aluminium, Copper, Titanium, Acrylic and HIV positive blood. The blood pumps through the camera, then in front of the pinhole and becomes Wayne's #25 red filter. Designed to shoot a geographic comparison of people suffering from HIV.


Third-Eye Camera : 4"x5" camera made from Aluminium, Titanium, Brass, Silver, Gem Stones and a 150 year old skull of a 13 year old girl.  Light and time enters at the third eye, exposing the film in the middle of the skull. The camera was designed to study the beauty of decay.

Dragonfly Camera : 4"x5" camera made as an altar for a 9 year old girl that passed away. Made from Aluminium, Steel, Acrylic, Insects, and other relics. Used to study and photograph time segments of children.

Son of Abraham (9/11) Camera : 4"x5" camera made from a solid block 6061 T6 Aircraft Aluminium inlayed with a piece of the Bible from 1860, a piece of the Koran from1960 and a piece of the Torah from 1880. The jagged piece of metal in the front of the camera with the pinhole in it was once part of a support beam holding up the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Designed to capture holymen around the world with their holy scriptures and their holy shrines as the background.

Heart Camera : 4"x5" camera made from Aluminium, Titanium, Acrylic, Formaldehyde and an infant human heart. Designed to take photos of soon-to-be mothers who are at least 8 months pregnant, and explore Wayne's relationship with his twin brother who died at birth.

Yemaya Camera : 4"x5" underwater pinhole camera made from Aluminium, Acrylic, Brass, Sea creatures and Pearls. An altar to the Santeria Goddess of the ocean, Yemaya, is inside the back of the camera.

Yama Camera : Yama is made from Aluminium, Titanium, Copper, Brass, Bronze Steel, Silver, Gold, Mercury with 4 Sapphires, 3 Rubies (The one at Yama's third eye was $5000.00), Asian and American Turquoise, Sand, Blood, and 9 Opals inlayed in the Skull. The film loading system is pneumatic. A 300psi air tank in the middle of the camera powers 2 pneumatic pistons to move the film holder forward and lock it into place. The switch to open and close the film chamber is located under the jaw. Named after the Tibetan diety for death, it was designed for the study of exodus and for the research of modern incarnations of historical iconic figures.

Go to Wayne Martin Belger's website, for an update on his latest projects and for more examples of his exotic cameras.

-- Photos and camera descriptions taken from Portrait by A Franz Buhler.

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