Wayne Martin Belger has held down jobs as a professional treasure hunter, the mascot of two pro hockey teams, a manicurist, a scuba instructor, a stock boy and a musician. It goes to follow that these days, he spends much of his time making and using pinhole cameras that are intricate collisions of anthropology, mythology, technology, spirituality, politics and archaeology.

Wayne Martin Belger has held down jobs as a professional treasure hunter, the mascot of two pro hockey teams, a manicurist, a scuba instructor, a stock boy and a musician. It goes to follow that these days, he spends much of his time making and using pinhole cameras that are intricate collisions of anthropology, mythology, technology, spirituality, politics and archaeology.

"I've never been trained in art or photography or anything," said Belger, who presently lives and works in Tuscon, Arizona. "When I got into this I saw the camera as a tool to engage the subjects I want to learn about. The camera is just as important as the photos in my world."

His camera, "Yama," which can be seen at Rivet Gallery this month, is made of a 500-year-old Tibetan skull, precious metal, gems and turquoise. It takes stereoscopic photos through two brass pinholes cast in bronze and silver within the eye sockets of the skull, like pupils.

A Burmese temple case, a tabletop from India with legs made from Indian and Mexican windows (inlaid with 500 freshwater pearls) and a Pyrex tube filled with Belger's blood and mercury are also part of the installation.

Named for the deity of death that "sings all of your life" in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the purpose of the camera, as Belger intended it, was first to take pictures of modern interpretations of historic deities and icons. In his next series of photographs with the camera, Belger will photograph Tibetan refugees in Northern India.

Due to added precautions Rivet has to take because of the camera's dollar value, "Yama" is only on view for limited hours over the next two Saturdays, as a special part of its Darkness Into Light photography exhibition. Belger will visit Columbus for a Feb. 28 reception at the gallery, as well as a lecture at CCAD.

When he comes to town, he will bring several of his other cameras and photographs, each one as elaborate as "Yama," at least in concept if not execution.

"It's all turning cranks and on-the-fly math. There are no drawings for anything when I go to make a camera," said Belger. "I approach it like I am painting. It's just evolving and evolving."

One camera he's bringing is "Sons of Abraham," made from aircraft aluminum, antique pieces of the Bible, the Koran and the Torah and a piece of a support beam from the South Tower of the World Trade Center. He uses it to take pictures of priests, imams and rabbis holding their holy books in front of holy buildings.

He will also bring "Untouchable," a camera that pumps HIV-positive blood through its inner workings, creating a red filter in front of the pinhole. He uses it to shoot people with HIV or AIDS, inspired by a close friend who was diagnosed with HIV 12 years ago and "his experience of becoming pretty much untouchable."

The landscape for people with HIV has changed significantly since he made the camera, which he plans to take to Africa and Calcutta.

"The people I've been shooting in San Francisco are 230 pounds and six-foot-two of solid muscle," he said. "There's a huge contrast between them and people living with HIV in South Africa, where it is still a death sentence."

Also coming along are cameras that are true scientific feats, including a deep-sea pinhole camera. And with the help of a scientist at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, he will eventually shoot icons of creation and destruction with subatomic particles. With 160 parts assembled so far, it is only 20 percent complete. "I don't usually preview a camera, but it's one of my favorite things I've ever done."