Stan Bowman Digital And Fine Artist

 

HISTORY AS AN ARTIST

 

 

 

 

 

Now I am not really part of the "computer generation" but I spend a lot of time in front of a computer these days. I grew up in the 1940's and 50's when the "Drive In" and crew cuts were the norm of the day. Yet today I have an ongoing fascination with computer technology which perhaps can be seen on one hand as bordering on the obsessive, but also  as a sensible recognition that we have moved into a new digital age where "electronics" has become our mantra.

 

How It Started.

 

So what made me jump headlong into this 21st century technology? Perhaps it has been my fascination with the "new" because I grew up in California where practically nothing seemed anything more than a few years old. As a boy I lived in eight different houses before I was 14, all rented by my parents. My father did not believe in owning a house. Only in high school did I live in one house and then for only four years until graduation. But it was also during this time that I discovered what at first was a new hobby, later an ongoing fascination, and finally an obsession. This was photography. It started innocuously enough in 1951 with the gift of a small snapshot camera and a developing kit. Working at night in the garage of our current rented house I carefully loaded film onto a reel under a dim red light, mixed chemicals, and processed a roll of film. Taking the film out of the canister fixative solution I unrolled it and saw on the film, miraculously, the negative images that were unmistakably of objects and people. What excitement, what magic. Hence was born my desire to take and make pictures.

 

When I got to high school I succumbed to the same interests that most high school kids adopt, sports, cars and girls. Photography faded into the background and did not emerge until a number of years later in college. In 1961 at the University of California in Berkeley I entered the architecture program and one semester took a course on lighting. One project was to find a place to study the change of sunlight from dawn to dusk. When I heard this I thought "O. K., I can do this with photographs". I found a covered passageway with large windows between two Berkeley campus building and made exposures outside from one spot every hour of the day. Then I printed four photographs for the project, four different times of the day. Looking at the pictures I was amazed by the patterns of sunlight that came through the windows and changed dramatically during the course of the day, This study was an epiphany for me. I was totally mesmerized by the shapes created and quality of light, and this set the direction of my interest in photography then and for the future.

 

My Time As An Architect. 1964 to 1970.

 

After graduation in 1964 the next ten years passed quickly, with me getting my architectural license and working in several architectural offices in the San Francisco Bay area. At some point I began to think again about making photographs, bought a new Pentax 35mm camera, and began taking photo classes at University of California Extension in Berkeley. It was fun and my collection of pictures grew quite rapidly. However what had started out as an interesting weekend diversion from my regular job had also become a compelling obsession.

 

One project grabbed my attention for over a year and became my first really significant black and white photographic project. My architectural job required me to travel by bus across the Bay Bridge into San Francisco, and then walk to my job. Each day I would arrive at the bus depot in San Francisco and I became fascinated with the people who were there each day who seemed to be almost like permanent residents, One day I took my camera with me intending to take some photographs of the depot and its residents. One of the first things I discovered was that as soon as I took my camera out they became aware of and stared at me. It was only when I put the camera on a tripod and waited a while did they start to ignore me. Then I took my pictures. Many trips later I had a set of images that for me caught the character and mood of the place and the interesting residents. This became the images of my first serious photo exhibition, and was then followed by a similar series of photographs taken at the San Francisco Train Depot.

 

The real watershed experience in photography, however, came in June of 1968. That summer I made a trip south along the California coast from San Francisco Bay to Point Lobos State Park for several days of picture making with some photo friends. I knew before I went that I would be traversing the rocks and shoreline where Edward Weston and Ansel Adams had produced such wonderful and creative photographs some 30 years before. But I was not quite fully prepared for the extraordinary beauty of the location.

 

Now the thing about Point Lobos is that it is probably one of the most astounding coastlines in the world with incredible rock formations worn smooth and spectacular by eons of water washing up onto the shore. Tide pools and small sea creatures are everywhere. As I was standing there next to the water the warm and magnificent late afternoon cut across the incredible rock formations. I saw a play of light and shadow that was immensely moving and beautiful. The textures and shapes and movements of lines of the rocks mesmerized me. Motivated to make pictures, I took many images with my Pentax 35mm camera being aware that I was making some of the best images I had ever made.

 

 

As I drove back to my Bay Area home I felt a certainty that I had captured the amazing beauty of the scenes I had just witnessed. I even thought about how I would print the images, using Agfa Protriga Rapid silver gelatin photo paper (which unfortunately is no longer available). Now the thing about that paper was that it contained more silver than most papers so blacks are deeper, yielding a longer tone range than could be gotten with other materials. Additionally Protrega had a slightly warm brownish tone, and I knew this would perfectly match the mood I saw created by the warm afternoon light as I was taking pictures. In the days after I arrived home I carefully developed the rolls of film, made contact sheets, and saw to my delight that the images I had hoped for were there, even more amazing than I had hoped for.

 

About a year after my trip to Point Lobos, in 1969, I undertook another photo project that provided me with new images for a third significant group of photographs. The location was an abandoned turn of the century hot springs resort called Byron Hot Springs, near Stockton, California. I arrived there one spring day with a group of photo friends who had been telling me interesting things about the place. Immediately I was fascinated as I saw several groups of lavish but deteriorating buildings, all no longer in use but still presenting the remnants of the former glory of the resort. What I learned then from the on-site caretaker was that this place had a compelling and fascinating history both as a posh turn of the century resort but also as an internment camp during the Second World War. The details of this second use were rather vague, and I assumed at the time it had been used to intern Japanese Americans.

 

 

 

Byron Hot Springs when it was built in the 1890's had become one of the most lavish and desirable hot springs resorts not only in the United States, but also abroad. Submerged large and beautiful marble lined tubs with warm soothing hot spring water drew the wealthy of that time to the California valley. Opulent hotel accommodations matched the magnificent springs to make this a most special place to visit. But what I found was a fascinating but mixed history. The resort had been abandoned for over 20 years and looked it.

 

 

At the end of my first day there I knew that I would have an amazing group of images. Everywhere was astounding in the form of sensuous surfaces and textures, all showing the effects of time and deterioration, and pieces of evidence referring to the prisoner years. I sensed that I could make a photo essay of this that would be about the history of this place, but also that I could create a group of fascinating photographs that in themselves were about light, rich surface texture, and shapes. The latter interested me the most. For almost the entire summer I made trips back and forth the Byron Hot Springs and collected a group of exciting images that resulted in a significant series of photographs.

 

Let me add a quick postscript note about Byron Hot Springs. A recent Internet search revealed to me that in actuality this place had been used by the US Government during the Second World War to confine both German and Japanese prisoners of war. One of two such camps in the US, it was considered as a temporary detention center for the interrogation of prisoners. By the end of the war it had served its purpose and was turned back over to the original owners who made no particular attempt to renovate or reuse the facility.

 

MFA at the University of New Mexico. 1970 to 1973.

 

In 1970 I had started to consider leaving the profession of architecture. I had begun to realize that I was more interested in making photographs than in making buildings. After some soul searching I made the decision to leave architecture and apply to graduate school in photography with the intention of seeking a university teaching job after graduation. I then applied to the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM, one of the best photo programs in the nation, and was accepted. Being a student in the program was a pleasure, and it was an exciting time. It also gave me the chance to explore the southwest US, one of the most scenic areas of the United States.

 

 

 

In June of 1971 I made a summer trip to White Sands National Monument near Carlsbad, NM. The moment I saw the sand dunes unfolding before me I was in awe. Now the sand there is actually quite firm and it proved easy to walk some distance off the road . The warm late afternoon sunlight raked across the sand gently defining the peaks and valleys, creating wonderful patterns of light and shadow. The sky was clear, and there was no wind at all. White Sands is a huge national preserve and many photographs have been taken there. But I found myself able to see it for myself and to take a series of photographs that were as compelling as any of the work I had done previously.

 

After three years I completed the requirements for an Masters of Fine Art in photography, and graduated. During the spring of 1973 I began looking for a university teaching position, a challenging task for anyone just about to leave school. Imagine my surprise when I received a telephone call from Cornell University and was invited to fly out for an interview in the Architecture Department which was starting a new program in design communications which included a strong photography component. It was March when I flew out, the weather was cool but nice. I met and talked with a multitude of faculty and students, and at the end, much to my extreme pleasure, I was told I would receive a letter offering me a teaching position. I flew back to Albuquerque where I began to plan for a 2000 mile relocation to upstate New York, in the Finger Lakes, one of the most scenic locations in the United States.

 

The Cornell years. 1973-1999.

 

Arriving in Ithaca in the fall of 1973 I faced the immediate task of settling myself and my family in a brand new and unfamiliar environment. But it was also a fascinating new location with landscape completely different from either California or the deserts of New Mexico. Upon my arrival I was told by photo colleagues at Cornell that Ithaca was second only to Seattle in number of overcast days in a year. Others told me I would love the summers and hate the winters. Moving into an older 1880's remodeled farmhouse I began to anticipate the coming of a cold winter with a fair amount of snow, something I had never known either in California or New Mexico. It seemed to offer both an unsettling and exciting change from what I had known previously.

 

Moving to a new environment as a photographer offers the creative opportunity to explore new imagery. Upstate New York and the Finger Lakes for half the year is green and dense with many trees and foliage. The eleven Finger Lakes are long narrow lakes that were formed by depressions of land, with hills pushed up between them. They are bowels of water, and to get to the next lake one needs to drive up and over the hill which separates it from the adjoining lake. Ithaca lies at the bottom of Lake Cayuga, between the larger cities of Syracuse and Binghamton. This area is also rural New York with many farms spread out among small rural towns. Ithaca, however is one of the larger towns with over 50,000 people, although many of these are students attending Cornell and Ithaca College.

 

 

Now one might expect that a photographer arriving in such a place would naturally gravitate towards making landscape pictures to come to terms with the new environment. But this did not happen for several reasons. On one hand adjusting to my new role as university professor and to the task of learning to participate on a university faculty and teaching students full time proved a big challenge, one which kept me on campus most of the time. Perhaps as the result of this my first photo project in Ithaca was directed toward creating a "at home" self portrait which was both easier to accomplish and also necessary for me to find my place in this new location and life style. This group of images was my way of finding a new voice while I focused on my experiences at that time of my life. This resulted in a group of twenty images that were exhibited at several locations in the US.

 

In 1980 I moved into a new phase at Cornell, as I was granted tenure and shortly thereafter became the Chair of the Art Department for a five year term. One would think that with new administrative duties I would have even less time for my photographic work, but in fact the opposite happened. I experienced one of my most productive growth periods as an artist.

 

Two things happened to help move me along. On one hand I had been exploring color photography for several years and had started to teach it in my classes. My interest in color imagery grew and blossomed and I began to experience the excitement of color. But also as I was even more confined on campus due to my administrative duties I put my attention to finding a way to expand my work into new and uncharted areas in my campus studio.

 

 

This took the form of setting up a copy stand in my studio just down the hall from my Department Chair's office which would allow me to more easily continue my personal work.

 

It started innocuously enough with me buying some vegetables at the local farmers market intending to photograph them in the studio underneath a 4x5 camera attached to the copy stand. I put the vegetables in the frig in my studio and forgot about them. One day remembering they were still there I got them out and found them in various stages of decay. Looking at them, I found they were even more interesting in their changes than when fresh. Also I had the sudden impulse to "enhance" this deterioration so I picked up hardware tools, a hammer, pliers, screwdrivers, etc., and worked over the vegetables, pounding, squeezing, etc.They became even more interesting to me. Moreover the colors seemed to expand their range of feelings. Then I arranged these vegetables but also added in the tools themselves used to shape the organic objects. At first these were arranged freeform, but then later in careful patterns, drawing on my strong design training from architecture. The result was quite pleasing. The use of the 4x5 camera and color film also meant I could achieve crisp and excellent detail for the final images. These were then printed as 16x20 color prints in my darkroom on campus.

 

Once I had assembled and created some twenty images I began to search for exhibit venues. It turned out that these were to be shown in the next few years both nationally and abroad. During 1984 I had exhibitions both in New York City at the O. K. Harris Gallery in SOHO, and also at the San Francisco Museum of Modern art, a two person show with my talented photographer friend Barbara Kaston. Then in 1985 I made a summer trip to the Recontres Internationales de la Photographie conference in Arles, FRANCE where I again showed my work around with much critical acclaim. This resulted in a series of shows in Europe at various locations over the next two years as well as a more extensive show at the Recontres in 1986.

 

Looking for a way to extend this body of works I began creating a more complex series of images where each was composed actually of four images, so called "Quadrants". The intention was to create more complexity by having four images that can be experienced separately, but also can be viewed as one single image. These took a great deal of time to compose and photograph as I needed to be aware of the other three images that would be adjacent to each other. These works were subsequently shown in several locations in the US and abroad. However this was the completion of an exciting run of images and also marked the end of this kind of assemblage for me. But the interesting thing is that even though I would go back only once more to using a copy stand and large format camera to make images using traditional photo methods in the not too distant future I would again start creating collages of images but this time it would be on a computer.

 

I would complete two more significant photographic series of images using a camera and making prints in a photographic darkroom in the 1980's. The first would be from a stay at an artists colony in Paris, France, in 1987. Having stepped down as Chair of the Art Department I now had time to work on my photography in earnest. Additionally I had decided to explore the possibilities inherent in photographing with large format camera's, using both 4x5 and 8x10 view camera's.

 

Learning about the possibility of a residency at Cite Des Arts International in Paris I applied and was accepted in the spring of 1987. On sabbatical leave from Cornell, I traveled to Paris and moved into a studio apartment in the Cite which was located in the heart of Paris adjacent to the Seine River and just opposite Notre Dame Cathedral. Now I had been to France before to attend photographic conferences but had never stayed for a longer period of time to photograph. I found like many other artists before me that I was lost at first regarding what I might photograph. I had taken the 8x10 field camera with me and started lugging this around Paris taking pictures. I really enjoyed setting up the camera and frequently had a group of Parisians around me, all curious about what I was doing. My intention was to make both color and black and white film exposures, develop the black and white negatives there in my Paris studio, but take the color negatives back to Ithaca to process.

 

 

I had arrived in April but found that by the end of July I really did not have any sort of satisfying body of images. In August, with four weeks left of my residency, I suddenly realized what it was that was attracting my attention and what I wished to photograph. During my stay in Paris as I walked around I saw a mixture of all sorts of ads for various products or services on wall or display surfaces, movie announcements, ads for sexual phone connections, etc. What struck me most was the stark contrast of this advertising with the classical character and architecture of Paris. Suddenly I realized what I wanted to do, make images with my 8x10 camera which expressed this contrast.

 

When I returned to Ithaca in the fall of 1987 I began to process the color negatives that I brought back from Paris, and print them on 20x24 Kodak color papers in my home darkroom, a nicely outfitted spacious room newly created a few years earlier. The color printing process is much more demanding than black and white requiring keeping the chemicals at a precise temperature within a degree or two either way. I had also built special covered processing trays so that I could turn on lights to see while processing prints. However when I was exposing paper and loading it in the covered tray I needed to do it in darkness or at times use a dim color safelight, making it possible to see just a little bit. At that time I also had an 8x10 enlarger so I could print enlargements of the 8x10 color or black and white negatives brought back from Paris.

 

Then in 1989 I was offered the opportunity to spend the fall semester teaching in the Cornell program in Rome. located in the Palazzo Massimo not far away from the Piazza Navona in the heart of Rome. The location was a historic palazzo that appears in most of the current architecture history books about Rome including the classic text by the noted historian Banister Fletcher. Thinking that this would offer me the opportunity to also photograph this amazing major urban city, I took with me a 4x5 field camera and both color negative and black and white sheet film. My plan was to do the same as when I was in Paris, process the black and white there and bring the color film back to Ithaca for processing afterwards.

 

 

 

 

Rome 1989.

Rome was an incredible experience and I was able to get out and photograph throughout the entire city. Amazing scenes are everywhere. Rome is a contrast, being a mix of the ancient Roman ruins, classic Italian medieval and Renaissance churches and buildings, and yet also being a large modern urban city. One is almost not sure what to photograph as everywhere one goes there are things to picture. Finally I began to realize that again it was contrasts of ancient and modern that was fascinating me, the montage of the unexpected, the fantastic mix of the classic with modern Rome street life.

 

When I returned to Ithaca I processed my exposed color films and thought about how I might picture this experience. Since it was the contrasting mix of objects that held my attention I decided to montage my pictures. I made many prints of scenes, cut out objects from the prints with a knife. and layered these back together on a copy stand and re-photographed them with my 4x5 camera to create a single image. This resulted in a series of some 16 images, all printed on Kodak chromogenic color paper.

 

What is most significant about the Rome series may be that it was the last group of images that I printed in a photo darkroom. Soon after I dismantled my home darkroom and converted it into a computer room in which I could pursue my growing interest in computer technology. This series is also interesting because in that I began to more fully explore the montage of objects in a picture space, a process that transferred over to the computer as I found I could do it much more easily that way and with even much more possibilities for control and manipulation.

 

The New Technology. 1984 to 2002.

 

During the 1980's while I was deeply involved with using a large format camera and making type C Kodak color prints I was also getting my first taste of the approaching technology revolution which would soon invade the photographic world to change it inevitably and irrevocably. In 1984 Apple introduced the first MAC computer and I soon bought one through Cornell. This was an exciting experience although I did not know how to use this for much more the text writing and editing. The importing of images had not yet begun.

 

Then in 1985 I learned that Cornell had a grant program funded through IBM in which IBM would supply state of the art computer equipment to faculty for research. I applied and received a grant of $20,000 for equipment, a computer, software, and a IBM color printer, the first ever of it's kind. But I wanted to use this for making images, not writing text or crunching numbers, so I went in search of graphics software. By chance I found an inexpensive paint program at the Cornell Campus Store which would allow me to paint with 16 colors. Starting with that I began to make abstract color images, focusing on the pixels and combinations of pixels, just like the French painter Seurat had done in the 19th century with daubs of paint. Additionally I found I could easily manipulate the images, such as duplicate and repeat sections, "inverse" (reverse) the color of pixels, rotate sections making them turn 90% either direction or flip horizontal or vertical. All this was new to me and quite exciting. When finished I printed out these images on my IBM color printer, cut them in squares, and pasted them together into a larger work by taping them together on the backside with clear cellophane tape. It was primitive at the time but it allowed me to begin my exploration of the basics of digital imaging.

 

About the same time a fortunate conversation with a Cornell College staff member opened up the window of my vision about the possibilities of this new technology for photography. Sitting in his office one day I said to him that I would really like to be able to work with an image in the darkroom and for example take an arm that was hanging down and move it around so it was stretched up. I said this was almost impossible to do in a darkroom. His reply was, "Well, you know, you can probably do that on the computer". Suddenly the possibility of computer manipulation of images dawned on me. If I could digitize photographic images then the sort of image manipulation I desired was possible. This propelled me to go across campus and search out people who were just beginning to explore the use of the computer for creating and editing graphic images.

 

Not long after getting my IBM research equipment I came across some other new equipment that really excited me. A colleague invited me to a demo on campus by a company called Truevision that was showing a graphics board they had designed that would capture video images, called the ICB(Image Capture Board). This board was connected to an external video camera that could capture still images. They had also designed a software program called TIPS for manipulating these images with much greater possibilities than I had with my simple Campus Store bought software. Fortunately the Truevision folks were willing to loan their equipment to Cornell for a while, and about a month later I was offered the equipment and set up a station in my campus studio. One of the first undertakings was to invite professor colleagues and students into my studio, grab images of them, and then manipulate the images in TIPS. What fascinated me was the possibility to duplicate 1/2 of a face, flip it over, and get a completely symmetrical face, something that does not occur in reality. This was an exciting time and I created my first series of digital images that were shown later in several gallery exhibitions.

 

As time went on I bought a video camera and experimented more and more with grabbing images and importing them for manipulation into the computer. But grabbed video images at that time were rather low resolution and not satisfying to someone acquainted with the detail of an 8x10 film camera image. So I began to search for a way to get higher resolution images, and the first breakthrough came when in the late 1980's I discovered and purchased a Microtek flatbed scanner. Suddenly I had a crispness and detail not available through video images. This was the beginning of my ongoing use of the scanner as a means for importing images into the computer arena, a way of working that continues today.

 

In the early 1990's I scanned in photo images as the digital still camera had not yet arrived, and would not really appear for general consumers until the Kodak introduced their DC line in 1996. I gathered printed images from magazines, newspapers and other printed sources which I then used in my works. I also was able to scan film negatives and prints made with a standard film camera on my flatbed camera and use these in image collages. Then I came across Photoshop that Adobe had released in 1990, and was blown away by possibilities. However initially I was not able to use the program as I only had a PC computer and Photoshop was a MAC only program. But then in 1993 the Windows PC version of Photoshop appeared and I jumped into image editing on Photoshop with both feet.

 

When shifting to a new medium it is not uncommon for an artist to struggle a while to establish a voice. It is a matter of really beginning to understand the materials and how one can relate them to one's personal life experiences. It is a matter of becoming fluent with the new language which is necessary for artistic expression. Even though I started doing some imaging on the computer in the 1980's I would have to say that it was in the mid 1990's that I began to feel comfortable with this new technology and find my ways of expression. It also corresponded with my retirement from teaching at Cornell, allowing me the chance to follow my desires as an artist more or less full time.

 

My first art exploration after leaving teaching began in 2000. I was inspired to try some painting which I had done on and off for more than 40 years. But as I worked on painting in acrylics on canvases I became convinced they needed something more. So I scanned in objects on the flatbed scanner and printed them out on canvas on a recently purchased Encad wider format printer. Then I cut these out with a sharp knife and glued them down on top of the painted canvases. This became a very interesting series of multimedia collages, a meeting of traditional acrylic painting with digital images.

 

Also in the same period of time I began my first really significant series of digital only art images. Working still with a flatbed scanner I began to archive all sorts of objects and montage these together on the computer in Photoshop, sometimes with a few digital camera shots added. This first series stretched on into 2002 and included sometimes strange combinations of objects. On one hand this seemed a natural continuation of what I had been doing with my photographic collages made on a copy stand some ten years earlier, only now it was infinitely easier to piece elements together in Photoshop. Moreover it offered so many more possibilities of arrangement and manipulations. At the same time these digital montages afforded me the opportunity to reconnect with my strong design background from my years as an architect, and to challenge me to find just the right organization to satisfy me. Finally I had always been interested in strong contrasts and juxtapositions of dissimilar objects, and this held full sway in these works.

 

Expanding Explorations in digital imagery. 2003 on.

 

Beginning in 2003 I have been increasingly expanding my interests and activities in scanning and digitally collaging images. This has been aided by tremendous advances in the power and speed of computers and the progressive sophistication of software programs, particularly Adobe Photoshop. What I do now I could not have done a half dozen years ago, and the pace of these changes just keeps increasing. And with it my excitement and pace of discovery grows.

 

In 2003 I changed my subject matter significantly. In earlier painting collages I had scanned some flowers and used these in several works. The thing I liked then and still like about flowers is the beauty of colors, incredible textures, and the fascinating organic shapes. As time went by I began to make a series of very dense and intricate collages, using a variety of flowers as subject matter. At the same time I used the power of Photoshop to create numerous layers, sometimes to reshape and resize the flowers, and frequently to change colors. One thing I had discovered all the way back when I started making color photographs in the 1980's is that I am at heart a colorist. I like and respond to strong colors, to contrasts of colors, and to harmonies of color. This is a feature in all my color work just as light and tonalities were my obsession with black and white photography.

 

 

 

Then in 2006 I made another shift where I still actively collaged layers of flowers but the overall effect became even more loose than before. Slowly I was moving toward abstraction as I became more aware that my vision had long been concerned with shapes, color, textures, patterns, and their organization within a picture field. Moreover I also started to create the images within a square rather than in a rectangle which to some is more of a photographic picture shape. But what I found is that a square offered much more possibilities for energizing the total work through juxtaposition with the four edges of the picture. Something about this seemed both more exciting and satisfying.

 

What is so exciting for me about working digitally is that as time goes by computers get more powerful, software gets more sophisticated, which in turn expands the range of what one can create as a digital artist. Since 2007 I have been exploring more fully the range and sophistication of Adobe Photoshop which over the years just gets better. What I found difficult to achieve in 2003 is now easier and quicker. For me this is a blessing as what I am finding is that the speed at which I can work is coming closer to the speed of my imagination. Moreover as the software gets better and better I begin to imagine new possibilities that are provoked by what the software can now do. With technology, as with art, the better it gets the better it gets.

 

2008 has marked a shift in my work as an artist to abstraction, perhaps surprising to some, but not to me. As I began to look back on my career in the visual arts which covers almost 50 years I notice some similarities. When I began as a photographer in the late 1950's I photographed at several locations in California where I made black and white images that had a certain composition about them that seemed as much about abstract organization as about the place where the pictures were taken. These locations were Point Lobos CA, Byron Hot Springs CA near Sacramento, and White Sands NM.

 

What I have noticed lately is that I still like these images greatly because, first, they have an abstract organization to them that continues to satisfy me even today. In particular the picture of a broken window at Byron Hot Springs may show a broken window but the real importance for me is the abstract organization of broken glass and mullions. It holds my attention because of the organization of shades of white, gray and black. At the same time it expresses a feeling of decay that I found at Byron, but this is only in addition to the patterns of shapes that I saw and photographed there.

 

 

In the early part of 2008 I started on a daily regimen that has proved most effective for me as an artist. I began to get up at 5 AM in the morning and sat down at my computer to make images. I used Photoshop and decided to explore the drawing tools in the program which I had not used very much previously. My intention was to create abstractions which had recently caught my attention through looking at contemporary abstract painting. Also I decided not to start with any imported photograph or scanned image, but to create everything fresh using just Photoshop drawing tools.

 

What happened was extraordinary. As I worked with Photoshop I began to find new ways to make shapes and textures. Then keeping them in layers I moved them around until I had a composition that felt right. Then I would frequently create overlays using selections of pixels in existing layers, add changes using blending tools, and sometimes use lighting filters. The experience was exhilarating and felt totally freeing. It seemed as if I could respond to what was in front of me instantaneously to add or modify arrangements to get something exciting and very new.

 

 

As i did this on a daily basis, each morning, I often was able to complete a work on the computer. It soon occurred to me that if I were making a computer piece a day that I could have more than 300 in a years time. Now since beginning this regimen I have not created that number of works during the last year but the total number is closer to 200, a real prolific outpouring. Some of these are more exciting than others to me and seem to have more to them, but what I find is that there is a never ending number of variations and surprises of what I can create.

 

At the same time another variation has appeared offering an expanded richness. Earlier I related how in 1985 I spent a brief period creating works using a simple program that featured pixels in 16 colors, and this became my source for several bodies of work. Now in 2008 I began to remember these images and regain that interest in pixels. I keep searching for those features that define digital imaging, that make it different from other media like painting, sculpture, and printmaking. It seems to me it is the pixel that defines digital imaging, that is the basic building block.

 

 

So I have undertaken to create new works, still abstract, that feature pixels. What I do is to take images that I have on my computer and zoom in on these to a pixel level in Photoshop. Then I grab a copy of this, enhance the squares of pixels, and begin to select groups of colors that become layers on top of the original grabbed image of pixels. Moreover what I also do is start by searching and grabbing images from the Internet of political or social personalities or events, zooming in and converting these into arrangements of pixels, and changing and enhancing these in numerous ways. I like and think it is important to make a connection to actual events or people because then the source of my works is contemporary history and culture. However in the end there is a translation into pixels and abstraction which takes it into another arena, that of abstract art.

 

Finally my exploration of abstraction continues as I experiment with new materials on which to print and push the boundaries of what I can do in the software. It seems that the possibilities are endless and grow daily.

 

New Photography but with differences. 2009.

 

What is so interesting for artists is that they often seem to come back to processes and imagery that they may have started many years earlier, but the return is marked by a new depth of understanding based upon all the intervening years of experience and exploration of new processes, materials and visions. This has been the case for me in the last few years where I have again picked up and photographed with a camera, only this time with a high end digital camera rather than a 35mm film camera. Also I have returned to making more traditional photographs of landscapes only this time in color and with a wide angle lens and processed and enhanced in Adobe Photoshop. New materials (digital cameras and software) are enabling me to achieve new kinds of presentation that were not available to me when I first started as a photographer in the late 1950's, but in addition I have discovered a new vision for presenting some of my images which I am calling "grand landscapes" because for me they encompass the grandeur of natural landscape.

 

I started my early career in art as a photographer in the late 1950's using a 35mm film camera and black and white film to create some of my first serious photography. Perhaps my first significant images were taken at Point Lobos along the California seacoast in the Carmel Bay area just below Monterey. Although my main interest there were the fantastic rock formations and textures some images were taken to show the wider seacoast where water meets the rocks.

 

However my first experience more focused on the wider landscape was at White Sands National Monument in White Sands New Mexico. There I pointed my camera to get a broader view of the landscape to show the shape and texture of the sand dunes, photographed in the late afternoon when the light and shadows were most dramatic.

 

Over the years I have returned to photographing with the camera at various times but usually not with the intention of creating so called "straight unaltered images". As I became more involved with the computer and digital imaging from 1985 on I found myself drawn more and more into the deconstruction and reconstruction of images. The single straight image was growing of less interest as I took to exploring how images could be sliced into pieces and montaged back together to create new statements and content. My intention has been to explore how digital processes and digitized imagery could be fashioned and refashioned to create works of art. To me it seemed like new territory for the artist to explore, having new tools to create works with. I have also focused on exploring and creating imagery that has it's own character different from any other media. Creating digital works that one might see as similar to painting, sculpture and printmaking has never been of interest to me.

 

Then in 2009, for the first time in quite a few years, I picked up a camera and went outdoors to take photographs. My first actual set of images, taken with a newly acquired medium wide angle lens and a Pentax DSLR came about while taking a fall vacation trip to Cape Cod at the National Seashore. It was simply a revelation for me and I began to see photographic possibilities that I had not seen before. Moreover it also included color and light and although both of these were not new to me I began to see how I could record and express these in a new way that was more extraordinary. It seemed as if I was seeing wide landscape scenes for the first time and knew intuitively how to put them together in a photographic image.

 

 

One source for my inspiration regarding the grand landscape has always been the paintings of the Hudson River School of artists such as Thomas Cole, Frederick Church, and John Kenett. There is on one hand a broad picturing of landscape from the foreground to background with sharp detail in all areas. There is also a quiet pastoral feeling combined with a special sense of atmosphere and light. These painters were after celebrating the beauty and special quality of the American landscape. In the back of my mind I carry the pictures of these images, the way in which these artists pictured the landscape, the way they bring in the viewer and involve them in the feeling of space and atmosphere.

 

Now one might say that Cape Cod is very special and it would be hard to not take amazing pictures there. Yes, on one hand it is unique but at the same time the images taken there can be just about anything and the real difference is the person conceiving of and taking the images. It is a matter of visualization. When I first started taking these pictures I did have the Hudson River School images in mind but I also was looking at the scenes with a new appreciation of landscape and feelings about how I wanted to picture it, not just like those painters but in my own special style and perception. Also in my mind was all the landscapes I had photographed over the years, how I had organized light and space and what atmosphere I had sought after.

 

After creating the Cape Cod images I had a clear vision of what I wanted for other landscape photographs. Since I live in upstate New York I turned my attention to local scenes and discovered to my surprise that there were all sorts of image possibilities that had never seen before to catch my attention. There is a special quality about farmland areas in the northeast US and I found I suddenly had new eyes to view what is around me. I have lived in the Ithaca area of upstate New York for over 30 years and suddenly I could see landscape image possibilities that I intuitively knew would work. This resulted in an expanded series of farmland scenes that represented my photography vision at that time.

 

 

And then the Photo World Changed For Me. 2012.

 

Creeping along behind the scenes has been a revolution in digital imaging which will transform photography and open up unimagined avenues of exploration for an artist. Like many others I started using a flip top cell phone starting about 2006 which served me primarily as a communication device. Then in 2009 I switched over to an Apple iPhone 3GS being a long time Apple computer user and because I was intrigued by their newest iPhone offering. I started enjoying the new features and also began to take pictures with it, something not available with my earlier phone. These pictures were intriguing but I had no real plan for them. They were mostly just a novelty.

 

Also In 2002 I got inspired to do giclee prints of my works. I concluded to do this and get high quality prints I needed a large format printer so I first purchased a top of the line 54" Colorspan printer and then later a 60" Canon large format printer, and recently a Canon 44 in. iPF 8300 printer. From there I started making prints not only for myself but for other artists and people which resulted in my establishing a giclee printing business which is still in operation and growing. At the beginning I started by printing images captured on high end DSLR cameras and some of these have been quite spectacular in color and detail. Also most of my clients seek me out because they want high quality giclee prints along with one-to-one service, and this is what I am able to offer. Most times one cannot get this personalized attention from the large volume print houses even though they may have lower prices.

 

Enter the New iPhone.

 

In 2012 I traded in my 3GS phone for the new iPhone 4S and then suddenly everything changed. I was blown away by the quality of the picture, the crispness of detail. I also experimented with printing these out on my wide format printer and was astounded by the results, getting superb prints all the way up to 24"x36". I realized that the technology is moving forward at a fast pace as well as toward miniaturization and that cell phones may just replace the DSLR in terms of quality. Moreover Since I always carry my phone with me at most times it means I can take a photo wherever I am. Using a DSLR I have to make it a point to carry my camera equipment with me and this is not always convenient or even possible. So suddenly the iPhone expands my possibilities for picture taking to places I might never have taken pictures before. And furthermore it has moved me towards taking pictures more quickly and spontaneously than ever before. Sometimes a spontaneous images can be quite exciting and say more about a place or event than something that is more carefully planned and executed.

 

And add to that, Here Come the APPS,

 

As time went by I have began to use my iPhone as my main picture capturing device and my high quality Nikon DSLR is getting a layer of dust from lack of use. But a little over two years ago I also became aware that there are a growing abundance of apps for the iPhone iOS and I started to purchase these from the Apple app store. Now the thing about these apps is that most are not very expensive, sometimes free, but often starting at $.99 cents and at other times costing $1.99 up to $3.99 for an app with more robust features. And what also became apparent to me is that the number and quality of available apps is growing at an enormous rate so my collection has grown to include nearly 70 apps, and the number continues to grow.

 

So what does this mean? Many of these apps have basic editing features that are quite good and I use them frequently on my phone or iPad to improve the quality of the images I capture. But also I have discovered and purchased apps that do some specialized actions that distort or colorize or add texture to a picture. Some like the 360 Panorama app convert a 360 degree image into a sphere and the Decim8 app re-translates the images into exciting and intriguing abstracts. Or another called Glitche offers a mind blowing array of translations into all sorts of partially or fully restructured  abstractions.  And there is even an Adobe Photoshop Express app for those experienced with the bigger desktop version of Photoshop and who just want some basic Photoshop editing features.

 

For me this has opened up a whole new avenue of exploration. As a photographer who on one hand started in the late 1950's with straight black and white photography I am always looking for interesting situations or events or places to capture images. But also my early training in art introduced me to abstract painting that was dominant then and still strong now in the art world. So my inclination has taken me toward the use the iPhone to capture straight photo images and then use some of newly available apps to take and translate these photo images into often unrecognizable abstract images. Sometimes a little hint of the source remains but often that gets translated into a totally non-representational work. Then I use other apps to add other layers of effects. I have always been partial to texture in a photo so I have an array of apps that create fascinating textures. Sometimes after capturing a photo I will process it through 4 to 8 apps totally changing and abstracting it into something completely different and unexpected. Part of the enjoyment of this process is discovering what totally new image is created.

 

Years ago i began photography because it fascinated me as an emerging art form. The thing is I always have been inclined towards exploring the leading edge in the world of art. Photography in the 1950's struck me that way.  And now the iPhone and apps have got my attention. Technology has upended both photography and the art world and It will be interesting to see where it goes and where I am led.

 

So is this the conclusion of my history as an artist? No, not until I am no longer around to continue it. And until then I will be adding new additions to this narrative as I will continue to explore art and being an artist and trying out new techniques and materials as these evolve.

 

Digital art is just beginning and digital technology will not only transform the way we live, is transforming how we live, but also will transform the way we have done things as artists by providing new techniques and possibilities for making art. And those artists who like to live out on the creative edge of art will be contributing to expanding the parameters of art and defining what it is and does in the future. And until I am gone that is where I want to be, out on that leading edge.

 

TO BE CONTINUED INTO THE FUTURE.

 

 

 

Stan Bowman Digital And Fine Artist

 

HISTORY AS AN ARTIST

 

 

Now I am not really part of the "computer generation" but I spend a lot of time in front of a computer these days. I grew up in the 1940's and 50's when the "Drive In" and crew cuts were the norm of the day. Yet today I have an ongoing fascination with computer technology which perhaps can be seen on one hand as bordering on the obsessive, but also  as a sensible recognition that we have moved into a new digital age where "electronics" has become our mantra.

 

 

 

How It Started.

 

So what made me jump headlong into this 21st century technology? Perhaps it has been my fascination with the "new" because I grew up in California where practically nothing seemed anything more than a few years old. As a boy I lived in eight different houses before I was 14, all rented by my parents. My father did not believe in owning a house. Only in high school did I live in one house and then for only four years until graduation. But it was also during this time that I discovered what at first was a new hobby, later an ongoing fascination, and finally an obsession. This was photography. It started innocuously enough in 1951 with the gift of a small snapshot camera and a developing kit. Working at night in the garage of our current rented house I carefully loaded film onto a reel under a dim red light, mixed chemicals, and processed a roll of film. Taking the film out of the canister fixative solution I unrolled it and saw on the film, miraculously, the negative images that were unmistakably of objects and people. What excitement, what magic. Hence was born my desire to take and make pictures.

 

When I got to high school I succumbed to the same interests that most high school kids adopt, sports, cars and girls. Photography faded into the background and did not emerge until a number of years later in college. In 1961 at the University of California in Berkeley I entered the architecture program and one semester took a course on lighting. One project was to find a place to study the change of sunlight from dawn to dusk. When I heard this I thought "O. K., I can do this with photographs". I found a covered passageway with large windows between two Berkeley campus building and made exposures outside from one spot every hour of the day. Then I printed four photographs for the project, four different times of the day. Looking at the pictures I was amazed by the patterns of sunlight that came through the windows and changed dramatically during the course of the day, This study was an epiphany for me. I was totally mesmerized by the shapes created and quality of light, and this set the direction of my interest in photography then and for the future.

 

My Time As An Architect. 1964 to 1970.

 

After graduation in 1964 the next ten years passed quickly, with me getting my architectural license and working in several architectural offices in the San Francisco Bay area. At some point I began to think again about making photographs, bought a new Pentax 35mm camera, and began taking photo classes at University of California Extension in Berkeley. It was fun and my collection of pictures grew quite rapidly. However what had started out as an interesting weekend diversion from my regular job had also become a compelling obsession.

 

One project grabbed my attention for over a year and became my first really significant black and white photographic project. My architectural job required me to travel by bus across the Bay Bridge into San Francisco, and then walk to my job. Each day I would arrive at the bus depot in San Francisco and I became fascinated with the people who were there each day who seemed to be almost like permanent residents, One day I took my camera with me intending to take some photographs of the depot and its residents. One of the first things I discovered was that as soon as I took my camera out they became aware of and stared at me. It was only when I put the camera on a tripod and waited a while did they start to ignore me. Then I took my pictures. Many trips later I had a set of images that for me caught the character and mood of the place and the interesting residents. This became the images of my first serious photo exhibition, and was then followed by a similar series of photographs taken at the San Francisco Train Depot.

 

The real watershed experience in photography, however, came in June of 1968. That summer I made a trip south along the California coast from San Francisco Bay to Point Lobos State Park for several days of picture making with some photo friends. I knew before I went that I would be traversing the rocks and shoreline where Edward Weston and Ansel Adams had produced such wonderful and creative photographs some 30 years before. But I was not quite fully prepared for the extraordinary beauty of the location.

 

Now the thing about Point Lobos is that it is probably one of the most astounding coastlines in the world with incredible rock formations worn smooth and spectacular by eons of water washing up onto the shore. Tide pools and small sea creatures are everywhere. As I was standing there next to the water the warm and magnificent late afternoon cut across the incredible rock formations. I saw a play of light and shadow that was immensely moving and beautiful. The textures and shapes and movements of lines of the rocks mesmerized me. Motivated to make pictures, I took many images with my Pentax 35mm camera being aware that I was making some of the best images I had ever made.

 

 

As I drove back to my Bay Area home I felt a certainty that I had captured the amazing beauty of the scenes I had just witnessed. I even thought about how I would print the images, using Agfa Protriga Rapid silver gelatin photo paper (which unfortunately is no longer available). Now the thing about that paper was that it contained more silver than most papers so blacks are deeper, yielding a longer tone range than could be gotten with other materials. Additionally Protrega had a slightly warm brownish tone, and I knew this would perfectly match the mood I saw created by the warm afternoon light as I was taking pictures. In the days after I arrived home I carefully developed the rolls of film, made contact sheets, and saw to my delight that the images I had hoped for were there, even more amazing than I had hoped for.

 

About a year after my trip to Point Lobos, in 1969, I undertook another photo project that provided me with new images for a third significant group of photographs. The location was an abandoned turn of the century hot springs resort called Byron Hot Springs, near Stockton, California. I arrived there one spring day with a group of photo friends who had been telling me interesting things about the place. Immediately I was fascinated as I saw several groups of lavish but deteriorating buildings, all no longer in use but still presenting the remnants of the former glory of the resort. What I learned then from the on-site caretaker was that this place had a compelling and fascinating history both as a posh turn of the century resort but also as an internment camp during the Second World War. The details of this second use were rather vague, and I assumed at the time it had been used to intern Japanese Americans.

 

 

 

Byron Hot Springs when it was built in the 1890's had become one of the most lavish and desirable hot springs resorts not only in the United States, but also abroad. Submerged large and beautiful marble lined tubs with warm soothing hot spring water drew the wealthy of that time to the California valley. Opulent hotel accommodations matched the magnificent springs to make this a most special place to visit. But what I found was a fascinating but mixed history. The resort had been abandoned for over 20 years and looked it.

 

 

At the end of my first day there I knew that I would have an amazing group of images. Everywhere was astounding in the form of sensuous surfaces and textures, all showing the effects of time and deterioration, and pieces of evidence referring to the prisoner years. I sensed that I could make a photo essay of this that would be about the history of this place, but also that I could create a group of fascinating photographs that in themselves were about light, rich surface texture, and shapes. The latter interested me the most. For almost the entire summer I made trips back and forth the Byron Hot Springs and collected a group of exciting images that resulted in a significant series of photographs.

 

Let me add a quick postscript note about Byron Hot Springs. A recent Internet search revealed to me that in actuality this place had been used by the US Government during the Second World War to confine both German and Japanese prisoners of war. One of two such camps in the US, it was considered as a temporary detention center for the interrogation of prisoners. By the end of the war it had served its purpose and was turned back over to the original owners who made no particular attempt to renovate or reuse the facility.

 

MFA at the University of New Mexico. 1970 to 1973.

 

In 1970 I had started to consider leaving the profession of architecture. I had begun to realize that I was more interested in making photographs than in making buildings. After some soul searching I made the decision to leave architecture and apply to graduate school in photography with the intention of seeking a university teaching job after graduation. I then applied to the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM, one of the best photo programs in the nation, and was accepted. Being a student in the program was a pleasure, and it was an exciting time. It also gave me the chance to explore the southwest US, one of the most scenic areas of the United States.

 

 

 

In June of 1971 I made a summer trip to White Sands National Monument near Carlsbad, NM. The moment I saw the sand dunes unfolding before me I was in awe. Now the sand there is actually quite firm and it proved easy to walk some distance off the road . The warm late afternoon sunlight raked across the sand gently defining the peaks and valleys, creating wonderful patterns of light and shadow. The sky was clear, and there was no wind at all. White Sands is a huge national preserve and many photographs have been taken there. But I found myself able to see it for myself and to take a series of photographs that were as compelling as any of the work I had done previously.

 

After three years I completed the requirements for an Masters of Fine Art in photography, and graduated. During the spring of 1973 I began looking for a university teaching position, a challenging task for anyone just about to leave school. Imagine my surprise when I received a telephone call from Cornell University and was invited to fly out for an interview in the Architecture Department which was starting a new program in design communications which included a strong photography component. It was March when I flew out, the weather was cool but nice. I met and talked with a multitude of faculty and students, and at the end, much to my extreme pleasure, I was told I would receive a letter offering me a teaching position. I flew back to Albuquerque where I began to plan for a 2000 mile relocation to upstate New York, in the Finger Lakes, one of the most scenic locations in the United States.

 

The Cornell years. 1973-1999.

 

Arriving in Ithaca in the fall of 1973 I faced the immediate task of settling myself and my family in a brand new and unfamiliar environment. But it was also a fascinating new location with landscape completely different from either California or the deserts of New Mexico. Upon my arrival I was told by photo colleagues at Cornell that Ithaca was second only to Seattle in number of overcast days in a year. Others told me I would love the summers and hate the winters. Moving into an older 1880's remodeled farmhouse I began to anticipate the coming of a cold winter with a fair amount of snow, something I had never known either in California or New Mexico. It seemed to offer both an unsettling and exciting change from what I had known previously.

 

Moving to a new environment as a photographer offers the creative opportunity to explore new imagery. Upstate New York and the Finger Lakes for half the year is green and dense with many trees and foliage. The eleven Finger Lakes are long narrow lakes that were formed by depressions of land, with hills pushed up between them. They are bowels of water, and to get to the next lake one needs to drive up and over the hill which separates it from the adjoining lake. Ithaca lies at the bottom of Lake Cayuga, between the larger cities of Syracuse and Binghamton. This area is also rural New York with many farms spread out among small rural towns. Ithaca, however is one of the larger towns with over 50,000 people, although many of these are students attending Cornell and Ithaca College.

 

 

Now one might expect that a photographer arriving in such a place would naturally gravitate towards making landscape pictures to come to terms with the new environment. But this did not happen for several reasons. On one hand adjusting to my new role as university professor and to the task of learning to participate on a university faculty and teaching students full time proved a big challenge, one which kept me on campus most of the time. Perhaps as the result of this my first photo project in Ithaca was directed toward creating a "at home" self portrait which was both easier to accomplish and also necessary for me to find my place in this new location and life style. This group of images was my way of finding a new voice while I focused on my experiences at that time of my life. This resulted in a group of twenty images that were exhibited at several locations in the US.

 

In 1980 I moved into a new phase at Cornell, as I was granted tenure and shortly thereafter became the Chair of the Art Department for a five year term. One would think that with new administrative duties I would have even less time for my photographic work, but in fact the opposite happened. I experienced one of my most productive growth periods as an artist.

 

Two things happened to help move me along. On one hand I had been exploring color photography for several years and had started to teach it in my classes. My interest in color imagery grew and blossomed and I began to experience the excitement of color. But also as I was even more confined on campus due to my administrative duties I put my attention to finding a way to expand my work into new and uncharted areas in my campus studio.

 

 

This took the form of setting up a copy stand in my studio just down the hall from my Department Chair's office which would allow me to more easily continue my personal work.

 

It started innocuously enough with me buying some vegetables at the local farmers market intending to photograph them in the studio underneath a 4x5 camera attached to the copy stand. I put the vegetables in the frig in my studio and forgot about them. One day remembering they were still there I got them out and found them in various stages of decay. Looking at them, I found they were even more interesting in their changes than when fresh. Also I had the sudden impulse to "enhance" this deterioration so I picked up hardware tools, a hammer, pliers, screwdrivers, etc., and worked over the vegetables, pounding, squeezing, etc.They became even more interesting to me. Moreover the colors seemed to expand their range of feelings. Then I arranged these vegetables but also added in the tools themselves used to shape the organic objects. At first these were arranged freeform, but then later in careful patterns, drawing on my strong design training from architecture. The result was quite pleasing. The use of the 4x5 camera and color film also meant I could achieve crisp and excellent detail for the final images. These were then printed as 16x20 color prints in my darkroom on campus.

 

Once I had assembled and created some twenty images I began to search for exhibit venues. It turned out that these were to be shown in the next few years both nationally and abroad. During 1984 I had exhibitions both in New York City at the O. K. Harris Gallery in SOHO, and also at the San Francisco Museum of Modern art, a two person show with my talented photographer friend Barbara Kaston. Then in 1985 I made a summer trip to the Recontres Internationales de la Photographie conference in Arles, FRANCE where I again showed my work around with much critical acclaim. This resulted in a series of shows in Europe at various locations over the next two years as well as a more extensive show at the Recontres in 1986.

 

Looking for a way to extend this body of works I began creating a more complex series of images where each was composed actually of four images, so called "Quadrants". The intention was to create more complexity by having four images that can be experienced separately, but also can be viewed as one single image. These took a great deal of time to compose and photograph as I needed to be aware of the other three images that would be adjacent to each other. These works were subsequently shown in several locations in the US and abroad. However this was the completion of an exciting run of images and also marked the end of this kind of assemblage for me. But the interesting thing is that even though I would go back only once more to using a copy stand and large format camera to make images using traditional photo methods in the not too distant future I would again start creating collages of images but this time it would be on a computer.

 

I would complete two more significant photographic series of images using a camera and making prints in a photographic darkroom in the 1980's. The first would be from a stay at an artists colony in Paris, France, in 1987. Having stepped down as Chair of the Art Department I now had time to work on my photography in earnest. Additionally I had decided to explore the possibilities inherent in photographing with large format camera's, using both 4x5 and 8x10 view camera's.

 

Learning about the possibility of a residency at Cite Des Arts International in Paris I applied and was accepted in the spring of 1987. On sabbatical leave from Cornell, I traveled to Paris and moved into a studio apartment in the Cite which was located in the heart of Paris adjacent to the Seine River and just opposite Notre Dame Cathedral. Now I had been to France before to attend photographic conferences but had never stayed for a longer period of time to photograph. I found like many other artists before me that I was lost at first regarding what I might photograph. I had taken the 8x10 field camera with me and started lugging this around Paris taking pictures. I really enjoyed setting up the camera and frequently had a group of Parisians around me, all curious about what I was doing. My intention was to make both color and black and white film exposures, develop the black and white negatives there in my Paris studio, but take the color negatives back to Ithaca to process.

 

 

I had arrived in April but found that by the end of July I really did not have any sort of satisfying body of images. In August, with four weeks left of my residency, I suddenly realized what it was that was attracting my attention and what I wished to photograph. During my stay in Paris as I walked around I saw a mixture of all sorts of ads for various products or services on wall or display surfaces, movie announcements, ads for sexual phone connections, etc. What struck me most was the stark contrast of this advertising with the classical character and architecture of Paris. Suddenly I realized what I wanted to do, make images with my 8x10 camera which expressed this contrast.

 

When I returned to Ithaca in the fall of 1987 I began to process the color negatives that I brought back from Paris, and print them on 20x24 Kodak color papers in my home darkroom, a nicely outfitted spacious room newly created a few years earlier. The color printing process is much more demanding than black and white requiring keeping the chemicals at a precise temperature within a degree or two either way. I had also built special covered processing trays so that I could turn on lights to see while processing prints. However when I was exposing paper and loading it in the covered tray I needed to do it in darkness or at times use a dim color safelight, making it possible to see just a little bit. At that time I also had an 8x10 enlarger so I could print enlargements of the 8x10 color or black and white negatives brought back from Paris.

 

Then in 1989 I was offered the opportunity to spend the fall semester teaching in the Cornell program in Rome. located in the Palazzo Massimo not far away from the Piazza Navona in the heart of Rome. The location was a historic palazzo that appears in most of the current architecture history books about Rome including the classic text by the noted historian Banister Fletcher. Thinking that this would offer me the opportunity to also photograph this amazing major urban city, I took with me a 4x5 field camera and both color negative and black and white sheet film. My plan was to do the same as when I was in Paris, process the black and white there and bring the color film back to Ithaca for processing afterwards.

 

 

Rome 1989.

Rome was an incredible experience and I was able to get out and photograph throughout the entire city. Amazing scenes are everywhere. Rome is a contrast, being a mix of the ancient Roman ruins, classic Italian medieval and Renaissance churches and buildings, and yet also being a large modern urban city. One is almost not sure what to photograph as everywhere one goes there are things to picture. Finally I began to realize that again it was contrasts of ancient and modern that was fascinating me, the montage of the unexpected, the fantastic mix of the classic with modern Rome street life.

 

When I returned to Ithaca I processed my exposed color films and thought about how I might picture this experience. Since it was the contrasting mix of objects that held my attention I decided to montage my pictures. I made many prints of scenes, cut out objects from the prints with a knife. and layered these back together on a copy stand and re-photographed them with my 4x5 camera to create a single image. This resulted in a series of some 16 images, all printed on Kodak chromogenic color paper.

 

What is most significant about the Rome series may be that it was the last group of images that I printed in a photo darkroom. Soon after I dismantled my home darkroom and converted it into a computer room in which I could pursue my growing interest in computer technology. This series is also interesting because in that I began to more fully explore the montage of objects in a picture space, a process that transferred over to the computer as I found I could do it much more easily that way and with even much more possibilities for control and manipulation.

 

The New Technology. 1984 to 2002.

 

During the 1980's while I was deeply involved with using a large format camera and making type C Kodak color prints I was also getting my first taste of the approaching technology revolution which would soon invade the photographic world to change it inevitably and irrevocably. In 1984 Apple introduced the first MAC computer and I soon bought one through Cornell. This was an exciting experience although I did not know how to use this for much more the text writing and editing. The importing of images had not yet begun.

 

Then in 1985 I learned that Cornell had a grant program funded through IBM in which IBM would supply state of the art computer equipment to faculty for research. I applied and received a grant of $20,000 for equipment, a computer, software, and a IBM color printer, the first ever of it's kind. But I wanted to use this for making images, not writing text or crunching numbers, so I went in search of graphics software. By chance I found an inexpensive paint program at the Cornell Campus Store which would allow me to paint with 16 colors. Starting with that I began to make abstract color images, focusing on the pixels and combinations of pixels, just like the French painter Seurat had done in the 19th century with daubs of paint. Additionally I found I could easily manipulate the images, such as duplicate and repeat sections, "inverse" (reverse) the color of pixels, rotate sections making them turn 90% either direction or flip horizontal or vertical. All this was new to me and quite exciting. When finished I printed out these images on my IBM color printer, cut them in squares, and pasted them together into a larger work by taping them together on the backside with clear cellophane tape. It was primitive at the time but it allowed me to begin my exploration of the basics of digital imaging.

 

About the same time a fortunate conversation with a Cornell College staff member opened up the window of my vision about the possibilities of this new technology for photography. Sitting in his office one day I said to him that I would really like to be able to work with an image in the darkroom and for example take an arm that was hanging down and move it around so it was stretched up. I said this was almost impossible to do in a darkroom. His reply was, "Well, you know, you can probably do that on the computer". Suddenly the possibility of computer manipulation of images dawned on me. If I could digitize photographic images then the sort of image manipulation I desired was possible. This propelled me to go across campus and search out people who were just beginning to explore the use of the computer for creating and editing graphic images.

 

Not long after getting my IBM research equipment I came across some other new equipment that really excited me. A colleague invited me to a demo on campus by a company called Truevision that was showing a graphics board they had designed that would capture video images, called the ICB(Image Capture Board). This board was connected to an external video camera that could capture still images. They had also designed a software program called TIPS for manipulating these images with much greater possibilities than I had with my simple Campus Store bought software. Fortunately the Truevision folks were willing to loan their equipment to Cornell for a while, and about a month later I was offered the equipment and set up a station in my campus studio. One of the first undertakings was to invite professor colleagues and students into my studio, grab images of them, and then manipulate the images in TIPS. What fascinated me was the possibility to duplicate 1/2 of a face, flip it over, and get a completely symmetrical face, something that does not occur in reality. This was an exciting time and I created my first series of digital images that were shown later in several gallery exhibitions.

 

As time went on I bought a video camera and experimented more and more with grabbing images and importing them for manipulation into the computer. But grabbed video images at that time were rather low resolution and not satisfying to someone acquainted with the detail of an 8x10 film camera image. So I began to search for a way to get higher resolution images, and the first breakthrough came when in the late 1980's I discovered and purchased a Microtek flatbed scanner. Suddenly I had a crispness and detail not available through video images. This was the beginning of my ongoing use of the scanner as a means for importing images into the computer arena, a way of working that continues today.

 

In the early 1990's I scanned in photo images as the digital still camera had not yet arrived, and would not really appear for general consumers until the Kodak introduced their DC line in 1996. I gathered printed images from magazines, newspapers and other printed sources which I then used in my works. I also was able to scan film negatives and prints made with a standard film camera on my flatbed camera and use these in image collages. Then I came across Photoshop that Adobe had released in 1990, and was blown away by possibilities. However initially I was not able to use the program as I only had a PC computer and Photoshop was a MAC only program. But then in 1993 the Windows PC version of Photoshop appeared and I jumped into image editing on Photoshop with both feet.

 

When shifting to a new medium it is not uncommon for an artist to struggle a while to establish a voice. It is a matter of really beginning to understand the materials and how one can relate them to one's personal life experiences. It is a matter of becoming fluent with the new language which is necessary for artistic expression. Even though I started doing some imaging on the computer in the 1980's I would have to say that it was in the mid 1990's that I began to feel comfortable with this new technology and find my ways of expression. It also corresponded with my retirement from teaching at Cornell, allowing me the chance to follow my desires as an artist more or less full time.

 

My first art exploration after leaving teaching began in 2000. I was inspired to try some painting which I had done on and off for more than 40 years. But as I worked on painting in acrylics on canvases I became convinced they needed something more. So I scanned in objects on the flatbed scanner and printed them out on canvas on a recently purchased Encad wider format printer. Then I cut these out with a sharp knife and glued them down on top of the painted canvases. This became a very interesting series of multimedia collages, a meeting of traditional acrylic painting with digital images.

 

Also in the same period of time I began my first really significant series of digital only art images. Working still with a flatbed scanner I began to archive all sorts of objects and montage these together on the computer in Photoshop, sometimes with a few digital camera shots added. This first series stretched on into 2002 and included sometimes strange combinations of objects. On one hand this seemed a natural continuation of what I had been doing with my photographic collages made on a copy stand some ten years earlier, only now it was infinitely easier to piece elements together in Photoshop. Moreover it offered so many more possibilities of arrangement and manipulations. At the same time these digital montages afforded me the opportunity to reconnect with my strong design background from my years as an architect, and to challenge me to find just the right organization to satisfy me. Finally I had always been interested in strong contrasts and juxtapositions of dissimilar objects, and this held full sway in these works.

 

Expanding Explorations in digital imagery. 2003 on.

 

Beginning in 2003 I have been increasingly expanding my interests and activities in scanning and digitally collaging images. This has been aided by tremendous advances in the power and speed of computers and the progressive sophistication of software programs, particularly Adobe Photoshop. What I do now I could not have done a half dozen years ago, and the pace of these changes just keeps increasing. And with it my excitement and pace of discovery grows.

 

In 2003 I changed my subject matter significantly. In earlier painting collages I had scanned some flowers and used these in several works. The thing I liked then and still like about flowers is the beauty of colors, incredible textures, and the fascinating organic shapes. As time went by I began to make a series of very dense and intricate collages, using a variety of flowers as subject matter. At the same time I used the power of Photoshop to create numerous layers, sometimes to reshape and resize the flowers, and frequently to change colors. One thing I had discovered all the way back when I started making color photographs in the 1980's is that I am at heart a colorist. I like and respond to strong colors, to contrasts of colors, and to harmonies of color. This is a feature in all my color work just as light and tonalities were my obsession with black and white photography.

 

 

 

Then in 2006 I made another shift where I still actively collaged layers of flowers but the overall effect became even more loose than before. Slowly I was moving toward abstraction as I became more aware that my vision had long been concerned with shapes, color, textures, patterns, and their organization within a picture field. Moreover I also started to create the images within a square rather than in a rectangle which to some is more of a photographic picture shape. But what I found is that a square offered much more possibilities for energizing the total work through juxtaposition with the four edges of the picture. Something about this seemed both more exciting and satisfying.

 

What is so exciting for me about working digitally is that as time goes by computers get more powerful, software gets more sophisticated, which in turn expands the range of what one can create as a digital artist. Since 2007 I have been exploring more fully the range and sophistication of Adobe Photoshop which over the years just gets better. What I found difficult to achieve in 2003 is now easier and quicker. For me this is a blessing as what I am finding is that the speed at which I can work is coming closer to the speed of my imagination. Moreover as the software gets better and better I begin to imagine new possibilities that are provoked by what the software can now do. With technology, as with art, the better it gets the better it gets.

 

2008 has marked a shift in my work as an artist to abstraction, perhaps surprising to some, but not to me. As I began to look back on my career in the visual arts which covers almost 50 years I notice some similarities. When I began as a photographer in the late 1950's I photographed at several locations in California where I made black and white images that had a certain composition about them that seemed as much about abstract organization as about the place where the pictures were taken. These locations were Point Lobos CA, Byron Hot Springs CA near Sacramento, and White Sands NM.

 

What I have noticed lately is that I still like these images greatly because, first, they have an abstract organization to them that continues to satisfy me even today. In particular the picture of a broken window at Byron Hot Springs may show a broken window but the real importance for me is the abstract organization of broken glass and mullions. It holds my attention because of the organization of shades of white, gray and black. At the same time it expresses a feeling of decay that I found at Byron, but this is only in addition to the patterns of shapes that I saw and photographed there.

 

 

In the early part of 2008 I started on a daily regimen that has proved most effective for me as an artist. I began to get up at 5 AM in the morning and sat down at my computer to make images. I used Photoshop and decided to explore the drawing tools in the program which I had not used very much previously. My intention was to create abstractions which had recently caught my attention through looking at contemporary abstract painting. Also I decided not to start with any imported photograph or scanned image, but to create everything fresh using just Photoshop drawing tools.

 

What happened was extraordinary. As I worked with Photoshop I began to find new ways to make shapes and textures. Then keeping them in layers I moved them around until I had a composition that felt right. Then I would frequently create overlays using selections of pixels in existing layers, add changes using blending tools, and sometimes use lighting filters. The experience was exhilarating and felt totally freeing. It seemed as if I could respond to what was in front of me instantaneously to add or modify arrangements to get something exciting and very new.

 

 

As i did this on a daily basis, each morning, I often was able to complete a work on the computer. It soon occurred to me that if I were making a computer piece a day that I could have more than 300 in a years time. Now since beginning this regimen I have not created that number of works during the last year but the total number is closer to 200, a real prolific outpouring. Some of these are more exciting than others to me and seem to have more to them, but what I find is that there is a never ending number of variations and surprises of what I can create.

 

At the same time another variation has appeared offering an expanded richness. Earlier I related how in 1985 I spent a brief period creating works using a simple program that featured pixels in 16 colors, and this became my source for several bodies of work. Now in 2008 I began to remember these images and regain that interest in pixels. I keep searching for those features that define digital imaging, that make it different from other media like painting, sculpture, and printmaking. It seems to me it is the pixel that defines digital imaging, that is the basic building block.

 

 

So I had undertaken to create new works, still abstract, that feature pixels. What I did is to take images that I have on my computer and zoom in on these to a pixel level in Photoshop. Then I grabed a copy of this, enhance the squares of pixels, and begin to select groups of colors that become layers on top of the original grabbed image of pixels. Moreover what I also did is start by searching and grabbing images from the Internet of political or social personalities or events, zooming in and converting these into arrangements of pixels, and changing and enhancing these in numerous ways. I like and think it is important to make a connection to actual events or people because then the source of my works is contemporary history and culture. However in the end there is a translation into pixels and abstraction which takes it into another arena, that of abstract art.

 

Finally my exploration of abstraction continued as I experimented with new materials on which to print and push the boundaries of what I could do in the software. It seemed that the possibilities were endless and grew daily.

 

New Photography but with differences. 2009.

 

What is so interesting for artists is that they often seem to come back to processes and imagery that they may have started many years earlier, but the return is marked by a new depth of understanding based upon all the intervening years of experience and exploration of new processes, materials and visions. This has been the case for me in the last few years where I have again picked up and photographed with a camera, only this time with a high end digital camera rather than a 35mm film camera. Also I have returned to making more traditional photographs of landscapes only this time in color and with a wide angle lens and processed and enhanced in Adobe Photoshop. New materials (digital cameras and software) are enabling me to achieve new kinds of presentation that were not available to me when I first started as a photographer in the late 1950's, but in addition I have discovered a new vision for presenting some of my images which I am calling "grand landscapes" because for me they encompass the grandeur of natural landscape.

 

I started my early career in art as a photographer in the late 1950's using a 35mm film camera and black and white film to create some of my first serious photography. Perhaps my first significant images were taken at Point Lobos along the California seacoast in the Carmel Bay area just below Monterey. Although my main interest there were the fantastic rock formations and textures some images were taken to show the wider seacoast where water meets the rocks.

 

However my first experience more focused on the wider landscape was at White Sands National Monument in White Sands New Mexico. There I pointed my camera to get a broader view of the landscape to show the shape and texture of the sand dunes, photographed in the late afternoon when the light and shadows were most dramatic.

 

Over the years I have returned to photographing with the camera at various times but usually not with the intention of creating so called "straight unaltered images". As I became more involved with the computer and digital imaging from 1985 on I found myself drawn more and more into the deconstruction and reconstruction of images. The single straight image was growing of less interest as I took to exploring how images could be sliced into pieces and montaged back together to create new statements and content. My intention has been to explore how digital processes and digitized imagery could be fashioned and refashioned to create works of art. To me it seemed like new territory for the artist to explore, having new tools to create works with. I have also focused on exploring and creating imagery that has it's own character different from any other media. Creating digital works that one might see as similar to painting, sculpture and printmaking has never been of interest to me.

 

Then in 2009, for the first time in quite a few years, I picked up a camera and went outdoors to take photographs. My first actual set of images, taken with a newly acquired medium wide angle lens and a Pentax DSLR came about while taking a fall vacation trip to Cape Cod at the National Seashore. It was simply a revelation for me and I began to see photographic possibilities that I had not seen before. Moreover it also included color and light and although both of these were not new to me I began to see how I could record and express these in a new way that was more extraordinary. It seemed as if I was seeing wide landscape scenes for the first time and knew intuitively how to put them together in a photographic image.

 

 

One source for my inspiration regarding the grand landscape has always been the paintings of the Hudson River School of artists such as Thomas Cole, Frederick Church, and John Kenett. There is on one hand a broad picturing of landscape from the foreground to background with sharp detail in all areas. There is also a quiet pastoral feeling combined with a special sense of atmosphere and light. These painters were after celebrating the beauty and special quality of the American landscape. In the back of my mind I carry the pictures of these images, the way in which these artists pictured the landscape, the way they bring in the viewer and involve them in the feeling of space and atmosphere.

 

Now one might say that Cape Cod is very special and it would be hard to not take amazing pictures there. Yes, on one hand it is unique but at the same time the images taken there can be just about anything and the real difference is the person conceiving of and taking the images. It is a matter of visualization. When I first started taking these pictures I did have the Hudson River School images in mind but I also was looking at the scenes with a new appreciation of landscape and feelings about how I wanted to picture it, not just like those painters but in my own special style and perception. Also in my mind was all the landscapes I had photographed over the years, how I had organized light and space and what atmosphere I had sought after.

 

After creating the Cape Cod images I had a clear vision of what I wanted for other landscape photographs. Since I live in upstate New York I turned my attention to local scenes and discovered to my surprise that there were all sorts of image possibilities that had never seen before to catch my attention. There is a special quality about farmland areas in the northeast US and I found I suddenly had new eyes to view what is around me. I have lived in the Ithaca area of upstate New York for over 30 years and suddenly I could see landscape image possibilities that I intuitively knew would work. This resulted in an expanded series of farmland scenes that represented my photography vision at that time.

 

 

And then the Photo World Changed For Me. 2012.

 

Creeping along behind the scenes has been a revolution in digital imaging which will transform photography and open up unimagined avenues of exploration for an artist. Like many others I started using a flip top cell phone starting about 2006 which served me primarily as a communication device. Then in 2009 I switched over to an Apple iPhone 3GS being a long time Apple computer user and because I was intrigued by their newest iPhone offering. I started enjoying the new features and also began to take pictures with it, something not available with my earlier phone. These pictures were intriguing but I had no real plan for them. They were mostly just a novelty.

 

Also In 2002 I got inspired to do giclee prints of my works. I concluded to do this and get high quality prints I needed a large format printer so I first purchased a top of the line 54" Colorspan printer and then later a 60" Canon large format printer, and recently a Canon 44 in. iPF 8300 printer. From there I started making prints not only for myself but for other artists and people which resulted in my establishing a giclee printing business which is still in operation and growing. At the beginning I started by printing images captured on high end DSLR cameras and some of these have been quite spectacular in color and detail. Also most of my clients seek me out because they want high quality giclee prints along with one-to-one service, and this is what I am able to offer. Most times one cannot get this personalized attention from the large volume print houses even though they may have lower prices.

 

Enter the New iPhone.

 

In 2012 I traded in my 3GS phone for the new iPhone 4S and then suddenly everything changed. I was blown away by the quality of the picture, the crispness of detail. I also experimented with printing these out on my wide format printer and was astounded by the results, getting superb prints all the way up to 24"x36". I realized that the technology is moving forward at a fast pace as well as toward miniaturization and that cell phones may just replace the DSLR in terms of quality. Moreover Since I always carry my phone with me at most times it means I can take a photo wherever I am. Using a DSLR I have to make it a point to carry my camera equipment with me and this is not always convenient or even possible. So suddenly the iPhone expands my possibilities for picture taking to places I might never have taken pictures before. And furthermore it has moved me towards taking pictures more quickly and spontaneously than ever before. Sometimes a spontaneous images can be quite exciting and say more about a place or event than something that is more carefully planned and executed.

 

And add to that, Here Come the APPS,

 

As time went by I have began to use my iPhone as my main picture capturing device and my high quality Nikon DSLR is getting a layer of dust from lack of use. But a little over two years ago I also became aware that there are a growing abundance of apps for the iPhone iOS and I started to purchase these from the Apple app store. Now the thing about these apps is that most are not very expensive, sometimes free, but often starting at $.99 cents and at other times costing $1.99 up to $3.99 for an app with more robust features. And what also became apparent to me is that the number and quality of available apps is growing at an enormous rate so my collection has grown to include nearly 70 apps, and the number continues to grow.

 

So what does this mean? Many of these apps have basic editing features that are quite good and I use them frequently on my phone or iPad to improve the quality of the images I capture. But also I have discovered and purchased apps that do some specialized actions that distort or colorize or add texture to a picture. Some like the 360 Panorama app convert a 360 degree image into a sphere and the Decim8 app re-translates the images into exciting and intriguing abstracts. Or another called Glitche offers a mind blowing array of translations into all sorts of partially or fully restructured  abstractions.  And there is even an Adobe Photoshop Express app for those experienced with the bigger desktop version of Photoshop and who just want some basic Photoshop editing features.

 

For me this has opened up a whole new avenue of exploration. As a photographer who on one hand started in the late 1950's with straight black and white photography I am always looking for interesting situations or events or places to capture images. But also my early training in art introduced me to abstract painting that was dominant then and still strong now in the art world. So my inclination has taken me toward the use the iPhone to capture straight photo images and then use some of newly available apps to take and translate these photo images into often unrecognizable abstract images. Sometimes a little hint of the source remains but often that gets translated into a totally non-representational work. Then I use other apps to add other layers of effects. I have always been partial to texture in a photo so I have an array of apps that create fascinating textures. Sometimes after capturing a photo I will process it through 4 to 8 apps totally changing and abstracting it into something completely different and unexpected. Part of the enjoyment of this process is discovering what totally new image is created.

 

Years ago i began photography because it fascinated me as an emerging art form. The thing is I always have been inclined towards exploring the leading edge in the world of art. Photography in the 1950's struck me that way.  And now the iPhone and apps have got my attention. Technology has upended both photography and the art world and It will be interesting to see where it goes and where I am led.

 

So is this the conclusion of my history as an artist? No, not until I am no longer around to continue it. And until then I will be adding new additions to this narrative as I will continue to explore art and being an artist and trying out new techniques and materials as these evolve.

 

Digital art is just beginning and digital technology will not only transform the way we live, is transforming how we live, but also will transform the way we have done things as artists by providing new techniques and possibilities for making art. And those artists who like to live out on the creative edge of art will be contributing to expanding the parameters of art and defining what it is and does in the future. And until I am gone that is where I want to be, out on that leading edge.

 

TO CONTINUE IN THE FUTURE.

 

 

 

TO CURRENT NEW WORKS GALLERY

Stan Bowman Digital And Fine Artist

 

HISTORY AS AN ARTIST

 

 

Now I am not really part of the "computer generation" but I spend a lot of time in front of a computer these days. I grew up in the 1940's and 50's when the "Drive In" and crew cuts were the norm of the day. Yet today I have an ongoing fascination with computer technology which perhaps can be seen on one hand as bordering on the obsessive, but also  as a sensible recognition that we have moved into a new digital age where "electronics" has become our mantra.

 

 

How It Started.

 

So what made me jump headlong into this 21st century technology? Perhaps it has been my fascination with the "new" because I grew up in California where practically nothing seemed anything more than a few years old. As a boy I lived in eight different houses before I was 14, all rented by my parents. My father did not believe in owning a house. Only in high school did I live in one house and then for only four years until graduation. But it was also during this time that I discovered what at first was a new hobby, later an ongoing fascination, and finally an obsession. This was photography. It started innocuously enough in 1951 with the gift of a small snapshot camera and a developing kit. Working at night in the garage of our current rented house I carefully loaded film onto a reel under a dim red light, mixed chemicals, and processed a roll of film. Taking the film out of the canister fixative solution I unrolled it and saw on the film, miraculously, the negative images that were unmistakably of objects and people. What excitement, what magic. Hence was born my desire to take and make pictures.

 

When I got to high school I succumbed to the same interests that most high school kids adopt, sports, cars and girls. Photography faded into the background and did not emerge until a number of years later in college. In 1961 at the University of California in Berkeley I entered the architecture program and one semester took a course on lighting. One project was to find a place to study the change of sunlight from dawn to dusk. When I heard this I thought "O. K., I can do this with photographs". I found a covered passageway with large windows between two Berkeley campus building and made exposures outside from one spot every hour of the day. Then I printed four photographs for the project, four different times of the day. Looking at the pictures I was amazed by the patterns of sunlight that came through the windows and changed dramatically during the course of the day, This study was an epiphany for me. I was totally mesmerized by the shapes created and quality of light, and this set the direction of my interest in photography then and for the future.

 

My Time As An Architect. 1964 to 1970.

 

After graduation in 1964 the next ten years passed quickly, with me getting my architectural license and working in several architectural offices in the San Francisco Bay area. At some point I began to think again about making photographs, bought a new Pentax 35mm camera, and began taking photo classes at University of California Extension in Berkeley. It was fun and my collection of pictures grew quite rapidly. However what had started out as an interesting weekend diversion from my regular job had also become a compelling obsession.

 

One project grabbed my attention for over a year and became my first really significant black and white photographic project. My architectural job required me to travel by bus across the Bay Bridge into San Francisco, and then walk to my job. Each day I would arrive at the bus depot in San Francisco and I became fascinated with the people who were there each day who seemed to be almost like permanent residents, One day I took my camera with me intending to take some photographs of the depot and its residents. One of the first things I discovered was that as soon as I took my camera out they became aware of and stared at me. It was only when I put the camera on a tripod and waited a while did they start to ignore me. Then I took my pictures. Many trips later I had a set of images that for me caught the character and mood of the place and the interesting residents. This became the images of my first serious photo exhibition, and was then followed by a similar series of photographs taken at the San Francisco Train Depot.

 

The real watershed experience in photography, however, came in June of 1968. That summer I made a trip south along the California coast from San Francisco Bay to Point Lobos State Park for several days of picture making with some photo friends. I knew before I went that I would be traversing the rocks and shoreline where Edward Weston and Ansel Adams had produced such wonderful and creative photographs some 30 years before. But I was not quite fully prepared for the extraordinary beauty of the location.

 

Now the thing about Point Lobos is that it is probably one of the most astounding coastlines in the world with incredible rock formations worn smooth and spectacular by eons of water washing up onto the shore. Tide pools and small sea creatures are everywhere. As I was standing there next to the water the warm and magnificent late afternoon cut across the incredible rock formations. I saw a play of light and shadow that was immensely moving and beautiful. The textures and shapes and movements of lines of the rocks mesmerized me. Motivated to make pictures, I took many images with my Pentax 35mm camera being aware that I was making some of the best images I had ever made.

 

 

As I drove back to my Bay Area home I felt a certainty that I had captured the amazing beauty of the scenes I had just witnessed. I even thought about how I would print the images, using Agfa Protriga Rapid silver gelatin photo paper (which unfortunately is no longer available). Now the thing about that paper was that it contained more silver than most papers so blacks are deeper, yielding a longer tone range than could be gotten with other materials. Additionally Protrega had a slightly warm brownish tone, and I knew this would perfectly match the mood I saw created by the warm afternoon light as I was taking pictures. In the days after I arrived home I carefully developed the rolls of film, made contact sheets, and saw to my delight that the images I had hoped for were there, even more amazing than I had hoped for.

 

About a year after my trip to Point Lobos, in 1969, I undertook another photo project that provided me with new images for a third significant group of photographs. The location was an abandoned turn of the century hot springs resort called Byron Hot Springs, near Stockton, California. I arrived there one spring day with a group of photo friends who had been telling me interesting things about the place. Immediately I was fascinated as I saw several groups of lavish but deteriorating buildings, all no longer in use but still presenting the remnants of the former glory of the resort. What I learned then from the on-site caretaker was that this place had a compelling and fascinating history both as a posh turn of the century resort but also as an internment camp during the Second World War. The details of this second use were rather vague, and I assumed at the time it had been used to intern Japanese Americans.

 

Byron Hot Springs when it was built in the 1890's had become one of the most lavish and desirable hot springs resorts not only in the United States, but also abroad. Submerged large and beautiful marble lined tubs with warm soothing hot spring water drew the wealthy of that time to the California valley. Opulent hotel accommodations matched the magnificent springs to make this a most special place to visit. But what I found was a fascinating but mixed history. The resort had been abandoned for over 20 years and looked it.

 

At the end of my first day there I knew that I would have an amazing group of images. Everywhere was astounding in the form of sensuous surfaces and textures, all showing the effects of time and deterioration, and pieces of evidence referring to the prisoner years. I sensed that I could make a photo essay of this that would be about the history of this place, but also that I could create a group of fascinating photographs that in themselves were about light, rich surface texture, and shapes. The latter interested me the most. For almost the entire summer I made trips back and forth the Byron Hot Springs and collected a group of exciting images that resulted in a significant series of photographs.

 

Let me add a quick postscript note about Byron Hot Springs. A recent Internet search revealed to me that in actuality this place had been used by the US Government during the Second World War to confine both German and Japanese prisoners of war. One of two such camps in the US, it was considered as a temporary detention center for the interrogation of prisoners. By the end of the war it had served its purpose and was turned back over to the original owners who made no particular attempt to renovate or reuse the facility.

 

MFA at the University of New Mexico. 1970 to 1973.

 

In 1970 I had started to consider leaving the profession of architecture. I had begun to realize that I was more interested in making photographs than in making buildings. After some soul searching I made the decision to leave architecture and apply to graduate school in photography with the intention of seeking a university teaching job after graduation. I then applied to the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM, one of the best photo programs in the nation, and was accepted. Being a student in the program was a pleasure, and it was an exciting time. It also gave me the chance to explore the southwest US, one of the most scenic areas of the United States.

 

In June of 1971 I made a summer trip to White Sands National Monument near Carlsbad, NM. The moment I saw the sand dunes unfolding before me I was in awe. Now the sand there is actually quite firm and it proved easy to walk some distance off the road . The warm late afternoon sunlight raked across the sand gently defining the peaks and valleys, creating wonderful patterns of light and shadow. The sky was clear, and there was no wind at all. White Sands is a huge national preserve and many photographs have been taken there. But I found myself able to see it for myself and to take a series of photographs that were as compelling as any of the work I had done previously.

 

After three years I completed the requirements for an Masters of Fine Art in photography, and graduated. During the spring of 1973 I began looking for a university teaching position, a challenging task for anyone just about to leave school. Imagine my surprise when I received a telephone call from Cornell University and was invited to fly out for an interview in the Architecture Department which was starting a new program in design communications which included a strong photography component. It was March when I flew out, the weather was cool but nice. I met and talked with a multitude of faculty and students, and at the end, much to my extreme pleasure, I was told I would receive a letter offering me a teaching position. I flew back to Albuquerque where I began to plan for a 2000 mile relocation to upstate New York, in the Finger Lakes, one of the most scenic locations in the United States.

 

 

Expanding Explorations in digital imagery. 2003 on.

 

Beginning in 2003 I have been increasingly expanding my interests and activities in scanning and digitally collaging images. This has been aided by tremendous advances in the power and speed of computers and the progressive sophistication of software programs, particularly Adobe Photoshop. What I do now I could not have done a half dozen years ago, and the pace of these changes just keeps increasing. And with it my excitement and pace of discovery grows.

 

In 2003 I changed my subject matter significantly. In earlier painting collages I had scanned some flowers and used these in several works. The thing I liked then and still like about flowers is the beauty of colors, incredible textures, and the fascinating organic shapes. As time went by I began to make a series of very dense and intricate collages, using a variety of flowers as subject matter. At the same time I used the power of Photoshop to create numerous layers, sometimes to reshape and resize the flowers, and frequently to change colors. One thing I had discovered all the way back when I started making color photographs in the 1980's is that I am at heart a colorist. I like and respond to strong colors, to contrasts of colors, and to harmonies of color. This is a feature in all my color work just as light and tonalities were my obsession with black and white photography.

 

Then in 2006 I made another shift where I still actively collaged layers of flowers but the overall effect became even more loose than before. Slowly I was moving toward abstraction as I became more aware that my vision had long been concerned with shapes, color, textures, patterns, and their organization within a picture field. Moreover I also started to create the images within a square rather than in a rectangle which to some is more of a photographic picture shape. But what I found is that a square offered much more possibilities for energizing the total work through juxtaposition with the four edges of the picture. Something about this seemed both more exciting and satisfying.

 

What is so exciting for me about working digitally is that as time goes by computers get more powerful, software gets more sophisticated, which in turn expands the range of what one can create as a digital artist. Since 2007 I have been exploring more fully the range and sophistication of Adobe Photoshop which over the years just gets better. What I found difficult to achieve in 2003 is now easier and quicker. For me this is a blessing as what I am finding is that the speed at which I can work is coming closer to the speed of my imagination. Moreover as the software gets better and better I begin to imagine new possibilities that are provoked by what the software can now do. With technology, as with art, the better it gets the better it gets.

 

2008 has marked a shift in my work as an artist to abstraction, perhaps surprising to some, but not to me. As I began to look back on my career in the visual arts which covers almost 50 years I notice some similarities. When I began as a photographer in the late 1950's I photographed at several locations in California where I made black and white images that had a certain composition about them that seemed as much about abstract organization as about the place where the pictures were taken. These locations were Point Lobos CA, Byron Hot Springs CA near Sacramento, and White Sands NM.

 

What I have noticed lately is that I still like these images greatly because, first, they have an abstract organization to them that continues to satisfy me even today. In particular the picture of a broken window at Byron Hot Springs may show a broken window but the real importance for me is the abstract organization of broken glass and mullions. It holds my attention because of the organization of shades of white, gray and black. At the same time it expresses a feeling of decay that I found at Byron, but this is only in addition to the patterns of shapes that I saw and photographed there.

 

 

In the early part of 2008 I started on a daily regimen that has proved most effective for me as an artist. I began to get up at 5 AM in the morning and sat down at my computer to make images. I used Photoshop and decided to explore the drawing tools in the program which I had not used very much previously. My intention was to create abstractions which had recently caught my attention through looking at contemporary abstract painting. Also I decided not to start with any imported photograph or scanned image, but to create everything fresh using just Photoshop drawing tools.

 

What happened was extraordinary. As I worked with Photoshop I began to find new ways to make shapes and textures. Then keeping them in layers I moved them around until I had a composition that felt right. Then I would frequently create overlays using selections of pixels in existing layers, add changes using blending tools, and sometimes use lighting filters. The experience was exhilarating and felt totally freeing. It seemed as if I could respond to what was in front of me instantaneously to add or modify arrangements to get something exciting and very new.

 

 

As i did this on a daily basis, each morning, I often was able to complete a work on the computer. It soon occurred to me that if I were making a computer piece a day that I could have more than 300 in a years time. Now since beginning this regimen I have not created that number of works during the last year but the total number is closer to 200, a real prolific outpouring. Some of these are more exciting than others to me and seem to have more to them, but what I find is that there is a never ending number of variations and surprises of what I can create.

 

At the same time another variation has appeared offering an expanded richness. Earlier I related how in 1985 I spent a brief period creating works using a simple program that featured pixels in 16 colors, and this became my source for several bodies of work. Now in 2008 I began to remember these images and regain that interest in pixels. I keep searching for those features that define digital imaging, that make it different from other media like painting, sculpture, and printmaking. It seems to me it is the pixel that defines digital imaging, that is the basic building block.

 

So I had undertaken to create new works, still abstract, that feature pixels. What I did is to take images that I have on my computer and zoom in on these to a pixel level in Photoshop. Then I grab a copy of this, enhance the squares of pixels, and begin to select groups of colors that become layers on top of the original grabbed image of pixels. Moreover what I also did is start by searching and grabbing images from the Internet of political or social personalities or events, zooming in and converting these into arrangements of pixels, and changing and enhancing these in numerous ways. I like and think it is important to make a connection to actual events or people because then the source of my works is contemporary history and culture. However in the end there is a translation into pixels and abstraction which takes it into another arena, that of abstract art.

 

New Photography but with differences. 2009.

 

What is so interesting for artists is that they often seem to come back to processes and imagery that they may have started many years earlier, but the return is marked by a new depth of understanding based upon all the intervening years of experience and exploration of new processes, materials and visions. This has been the case for me in the last few years where I have again picked up and photographed with a camera, only this time with a high end digital camera rather than a 35mm film camera. Also I have returned to making more traditional photographs of landscapes only this time in color and with a wide angle lens and processed and enhanced in Adobe Photoshop. New materials (digital cameras and software) are enabling me to achieve new kinds of presentation that were not available to me when I first started as a photographer in the late 1950's, but in addition I have discovered a new vision for presenting some of my images which I am calling "grand landscapes" because for me they encompass the grandeur of natural landscape.

 

I started my early career in art as a photographer in the late 1950's using a 35mm film camera and black and white film to create some of my first serious photography. Perhaps my first significant images were taken at Point Lobos along the California seacoast in the Carmel Bay area just below Monterey. Although my main interest there were the fantastic rock formations and textures some images were taken to show the wider seacoast where water meets the rocks.

 

However my first experience more focused on the wider landscape was at White Sands National Monument in White Sands New Mexico. There I pointed my camera to get a broader view of the landscape to show the shape and texture of the sand dunes, photographed in the late afternoon when the light and shadows were most dramatic.

 

Over the years I have returned to photographing with the camera at various times but usually not with the intention of creating so called "straight unaltered images". As I became more involved with the computer and digital imaging from 1985 on I found myself drawn more and more into the deconstruction and reconstruction of images. The single straight image was growing of less interest as I took to exploring how images could be sliced into pieces and montaged back together to create new statements and content. My intention has been to explore how digital processes and digitized imagery could be fashioned and refashioned to create works of art. To me it seemed like new territory for the artist to explore, having new tools to create works with. I have also focused on exploring and creating imagery that has it's own character different from any other media. Creating digital works that one might see as similar to painting, sculpture and printmaking has never been of interest to me.

 

Then in 2009, for the first time in quite a few years, I picked up a camera and went outdoors to take photographs. My first actual set of images, taken with a newly acquired medium wide angle lens and a Pentax DSLR came about while taking a fall vacation trip to Cape Cod at the National Seashore. It was simply a revelation for me and I began to see photographic possibilities that I had not seen before. Moreover it also included color and light and although both of these were not new to me I began to see how I could record and express these in a new way that was more extraordinary. It seemed as if I was seeing wide landscape scenes for the first time and knew intuitively how to put them together in a photographic image.

 

 

One source for my inspiration regarding the grand landscape has always been the paintings of the Hudson River School of artists such as Thomas Cole, Frederick Church, and John Kenett. There is on one hand a broad picturing of landscape from the foreground to background with sharp detail in all areas. There is also a quiet pastoral feeling combined with a special sense of atmosphere and light. These painters were after celebrating the beauty and special quality of the American landscape. In the back of my mind I carry the pictures of these images, the way in which these artists pictured the landscape, the way they bring in the viewer and involve them in the feeling of space and atmosphere.

 

Now one might say that Cape Cod is very special and it would be hard to not take amazing pictures there. Yes, on one hand it is unique but at the same time the images taken there can be just about anything and the real difference is the person conceiving of and taking the images. It is a matter of visualization. When I first started taking these pictures I did have the Hudson River School images in mind but I also was looking at the scenes with a new appreciation of landscape and feelings about how I wanted to picture it, not just like those painters but in my own special style and perception. Also in my mind was all the landscapes I had photographed over the years, how I had organized light and space and what atmosphere I had sought after.

 

After creating the Cape Cod images I had a clear vision of what I wanted for other landscape photographs. Since I live in upstate New York I turned my attention to local scenes and discovered to my surprise that there were all sorts of image possibilities that had never seen before to catch my attention. There is a special quality about farmland areas in the northeast US and I found I suddenly had new eyes to view what is around me. I have lived in the Ithaca area of upstate New York for over 30 years and suddenly I could see landscape image possibilities that I intuitively knew would work. This resulted in an expanded series of farmland scenes that represented my photography vision at that time.

 

And then the Photo World Changed For Me. 2012.

 

Creeping along behind the scenes has been a revolution in digital imaging which will transform photography and open up unimagined avenues of exploration for an artist. Like many others I started using a flip top cell phone starting about 2006 which served me primarily as a communication device. Then in 2009 I switched over to an Apple iPhone 3GS being a long time Apple computer user and because I was intrigued by their newest iPhone offering. I started enjoying the new features and also began to take pictures with it, something not available with my earlier phone. These pictures were intriguing but I had no real plan for them. They were mostly just a novelty.

 

Also In 2002 I got inspired to do giclee prints of my works. I concluded to do this and get high quality prints I needed a large format printer so I first purchased a top of the line 54" Colorspan printer and then later a 60" Canon large format printer, and recently a Canon 44 in. iPF 8300 printer. From there I started making prints not only for myself but for other artists and people which resulted in my establishing a giclee printing business which is still in operation and growing. At the beginning I started by printing images captured on high end DSLR cameras and some of these have been quite spectacular in color and detail. Also most of my clients seek me out because they want high quality giclee prints along with one-to-one service, and this is what I am able to offer. Most times one cannot get this personalized attention from the large volume print houses even though they may have lower prices.

 

Enter the New iPhone.

 

In 2012 I traded in my 3GS phone for the new iPhone 4S and then suddenly everything changed. I was blown away by the quality of the picture, the crispness of detail. I also experimented with printing these out on my wide format printer and was astounded by the results, getting superb prints all the way up to 24"x36". I realized that the technology is moving forward at a fast pace as well as toward miniaturization and that cell phones may just replace the DSLR in terms of quality. Moreover Since I always carry my phone with me at most times it means I can take a photo wherever I am. Using a DSLR I have to make it a point to carry my camera equipment with me and this is not always convenient or even possible. So suddenly the iPhone expands my possibilities for picture taking to places I might never have taken pictures before. And furthermore it has moved me towards taking pictures more quickly and spontaneously than ever before. Sometimes a spontaneous images can be quite exciting and say more about a place or event than something that is more carefully planned and executed.

 

And add to that, Here Come the APPS,

 

As time went by I have began to use my iPhone as my main picture capturing device and my high quality Nikon DSLR is getting a layer of dust from lack of use. But a little over two years ago I also became aware that there are a growing abundance of apps for the iPhone iOS and I started to purchase these from the Apple app store. Now the thing about these apps is that most are not very expensive, sometimes free, but often starting at $.99 cents and at other times costing $1.99 up to $3.99 for an app with more robust features. And what also became apparent to me is that the number and quality of available apps is growing at an enormous rate so my collection has grown to include nearly 70 apps, and the number continues to grow.

 

So what does this mean? Many of these apps have basic editing features that are quite good and I use them frequently on my phone or iPad to improve the quality of the images I capture. But also I have discovered and purchased apps that do some specialized actions that distort or colorize or add texture to a picture. Some like the 360 Panorama app convert a 360 degree image into a sphere and the Decim8 app re-translates the images into exciting and intriguing abstracts. Or another called Glitche offers a mind blowing array of translations into all sorts of partially or fully restructured  abstractions.  And there is even an Adobe Photoshop Express app for those experienced with the bigger desktop version of Photoshop and who just want some basic Photoshop editing features.

 

For me this has opened up a whole new avenue of exploration. As a photographer who on one hand started in the late 1950's with straight black and white photography I am always looking for interesting situations or events or places to capture images. But also my early training in art introduced me to abstract painting that was dominant then and still strong now in the art world. So my inclination has taken me toward the use the iPhone to capture straight photo images and then use some of newly available apps to take and translate these photo images into often unrecognizable abstract images. Sometimes a little hint of the source remains but often that gets translated into a totally non-representational work. Then I use other apps to add other layers of effects. I have always been partial to texture in a photo so I have an array of apps that create fascinating textures. Sometimes after capturing a photo I will process it through 4 to 8 apps totally changing and abstracting it into something completely different and unexpected. Part of the enjoyment of this process is discovering what totally new image is created.

 

Years ago i began photography because it fascinated me as an emerging art form. The thing is I always have been inclined towards exploring the leading edge in the world of art. Photography in the 1950's struck me that way.  And now the iPhone and apps have got my attention. Technology has upended both photography and the art world and It will be interesting to see where it goes and where I am led.

 

So is this the conclusion of my history as an artist? No, not until I am no longer around to continue it. And until then I will be adding new additions to this narrative as I will continue to explore art and being an artist and trying out new techniques and materials as these evolve.

 

 

 

Stan Bowman Digital And Fine Artist

 

HISTORY AS AN ARTIST

 

 

Now I am not really part of the "computer generation" but I spend a lot of time in front of a computer these days. I grew up in the 1940's and 50's when the "Drive In" and crew cuts were the norm of the day. Yet today I have an ongoing fascination with computer technology which perhaps can be seen on one hand as bordering on the obsessive, but also  as a sensible recognition that we have moved into a new digital age where "electronics" has become our mantra.

 

How It Started.

 

So what made me jump headlong into this 21st century technology? Perhaps it has been my fascination with the "new" because I grew up in California where practically nothing seemed anything more than a few years old. As a boy I lived in eight different houses before I was 14, all rented by my parents. My father did not believe in owning a house. Only in high school did I live in one house and then for only four years until graduation. But it was also during this time that I discovered what at first was a new hobby, later an ongoing fascination, and finally an obsession. This was photography. It started innocuously enough in 1951 with the gift of a small snapshot camera and a developing kit. Working at night in the garage of our current rented house I carefully loaded film onto a reel under a dim red light, mixed chemicals, and processed a roll of film. Taking the film out of the canister fixative solution I unrolled it and saw on the film, miraculously, the negative images that were unmistakably of objects and people. What excitement, what magic. Hence was born my desire to take and make pictures.

 

When I got to high school I succumbed to the same interests that most high school kids adopt, sports, cars and girls. Photography faded into the background and did not emerge until a number of years later in college. In 1961 at the University of California in Berkeley I entered the architecture program and one semester took a course on lighting. One project was to find a place to study the change of sunlight from dawn to dusk. When I heard this I thought "O. K., I can do this with photographs". I found a covered passageway with large windows between two Berkeley campus building and made exposures outside from one spot every hour of the day. Then I printed four photographs for the project, four different times of the day. Looking at the pictures I was amazed by the patterns of sunlight that came through the windows and changed dramatically during the course of the day, This study was an epiphany for me. I was totally mesmerized by the shapes created and quality of light, and this set the direction of my interest in photography then and for the future.

 

My Time As An Architect. 1964 to 1970.

 

After graduation in 1964 the next ten years passed quickly, with me getting my architectural license and working in several architectural offices in the San Francisco Bay area. At some point I began to think again about making photographs, bought a new Pentax 35mm camera, and began taking photo classes at University of California Extension in Berkeley. It was fun and my collection of pictures grew quite rapidly. However what had started out as an interesting weekend diversion from my regular job had also become a compelling obsession.

 

One project grabbed my attention for over a year and became my first really significant black and white photographic project. My architectural job required me to travel by bus across the Bay Bridge into San Francisco, and then walk to my job. Each day I would arrive at the bus depot in San Francisco and I became fascinated with the people who were there each day who seemed to be almost like permanent residents, One day I took my camera with me intending to take some photographs of the depot and its residents. One of the first things I discovered was that as soon as I took my camera out they became aware of and stared at me. It was only when I put the camera on a tripod and waited a while did they start to ignore me. Then I took my pictures. Many trips later I had a set of images that for me caught the character and mood of the place and the interesting residents. This became the images of my first serious photo exhibition, and was then followed by a similar series of photographs taken at the San Francisco Train Depot.

 

The real watershed experience in photography, however, came in June of 1968. That summer I made a trip south along the California coast from San Francisco Bay to Point Lobos State Park for several days of picture making with some photo friends. I knew before I went that I would be traversing the rocks and shoreline where Edward Weston and Ansel Adams had produced such wonderful and creative photographs some 30 years before. But I was not quite fully prepared for the extraordinary beauty of the location.

 

Now the thing about Point Lobos is that it is probably one of the most astounding coastlines in the world with incredible rock formations worn smooth and spectacular by eons of water washing up onto the shore. Tide pools and small sea creatures are everywhere. As I was standing there next to the water the warm and magnificent late afternoon cut across the incredible rock formations. I saw a play of light and shadow that was immensely moving and beautiful. The textures and shapes and movements of lines of the rocks mesmerized me. Motivated to make pictures, I took many images with my Pentax 35mm camera being aware that I was making some of the best images I had ever made.

 

 

As I drove back to my Bay Area home I felt a certainty that I had captured the amazing beauty of the scenes I had just witnessed. I even thought about how I would print the images, using Agfa Protriga Rapid silver gelatin photo paper (which unfortunately is no longer available). Now the thing about that paper was that it contained more silver than most papers so blacks are deeper, yielding a longer tone range than could be gotten with other materials. Additionally Protrega had a slightly warm brownish tone, and I knew this would perfectly match the mood I saw created by the warm afternoon light as I was taking pictures. In the days after I arrived home I carefully developed the rolls of film, made contact sheets, and saw to my delight that the images I had hoped for were there, even more amazing than I had hoped for.

 

About a year after my trip to Point Lobos, in 1969, I undertook another photo project that provided me with new images for a third significant group of photographs. The location was an abandoned turn of the century hot springs resort called Byron Hot Springs, near Stockton, California. I arrived there one spring day with a group of photo friends who had been telling me interesting things about the place. Immediately I was fascinated as I saw several groups of lavish but deteriorating buildings, all no longer in use but still presenting the remnants of the former glory of the resort. What I learned then from the on-site caretaker was that this place had a compelling and fascinating history both as a posh turn of the century resort but also as an internment camp during the Second World War. The details of this second use were rather vague, and I assumed at the time it had been used to intern Japanese Americans.

 

Byron Hot Springs when it was built in the 1890's had become one of the most lavish and desirable hot springs resorts not only in the United States, but also abroad. Submerged large and beautiful marble lined tubs with warm soothing hot spring water drew the wealthy of that time to the California valley. Opulent hotel accommodations matched the magnificent springs to make this a most special place to visit. But what I found was a fascinating but mixed history. The resort had been abandoned for over 20 years and looked it.

 

At the end of my first day there I knew that I would have an amazing group of images. Everywhere was astounding in the form of sensuous surfaces and textures, all showing the effects of time and deterioration, and pieces of evidence referring to the prisoner years. I sensed that I could make a photo essay of this that would be about the history of this place, but also that I could create a group of fascinating photographs that in themselves were about light, rich surface texture, and shapes. The latter interested me the most. For almost the entire summer I made trips back and forth the Byron Hot Springs and collected a group of exciting images that resulted in a significant series of photographs.

 

Let me add a quick postscript note about Byron Hot Springs. A recent Internet search revealed to me that in actuality this place had been used by the US Government during the Second World War to confine both German and Japanese prisoners of war. One of two such camps in the US, it was considered as a temporary detention center for the interrogation of prisoners. By the end of the war it had served its purpose and was turned back over to the original owners who made no particular attempt to renovate or reuse the facility.

 

MFA at the University of New Mexico. 1970 to 1973.

 

In 1970 I had started to consider leaving the profession of architecture. I had begun to realize that I was more interested in making photographs than in making buildings. After some soul searching I made the decision to leave architecture and apply to graduate school in photography with the intention of seeking a university teaching job after graduation. I then applied to the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM, one of the best photo programs in the nation, and was accepted. Being a student in the program was a pleasure, and it was an exciting time. It also gave me the chance to explore the southwest US, one of the most scenic areas of the United States.

 

 

In June of 1971 I made a summer trip to White Sands National Monument near Carlsbad, NM. The moment I saw the sand dunes unfolding before me I was in awe. Now the sand there is actually quite firm and it proved easy to walk some distance off the road . The warm late afternoon sunlight raked across the sand gently defining the peaks and valleys, creating wonderful patterns of light and shadow. The sky was clear, and there was no wind at all. White Sands is a huge national preserve and many photographs have been taken there. But I found myself able to see it for myself and to take a series of photographs that were as compelling as any of the work I had done previously.

 

After three years I completed the requirements for an Masters of Fine Art in photography, and graduated. During the spring of 1973 I began looking for a university teaching position, a challenging task for anyone just about to leave school. Imagine my surprise when I received a telephone call from Cornell University and was invited to fly out for an interview in the Architecture Department which was starting a new program in design communications which included a strong photography component. It was March when I flew out, the weather was cool but nice. I met and talked with a multitude of faculty and students, and at the end, much to my extreme pleasure, I was told I would receive a letter offering me a teaching position. I flew back to Albuquerque where I began to plan for a 2000 mile relocation to upstate New York, in the Finger Lakes, one of the most scenic locations in the United States.

 

The Cornell years. 1973-1999.

 

Arriving in Ithaca in the fall of 1973 I faced the immediate task of settling myself and my family in a brand new and unfamiliar environment. But it was also a fascinating new location with landscape completely different from either California or the deserts of New Mexico. Upon my arrival I was told by photo colleagues at Cornell that Ithaca was second only to Seattle in number of overcast days in a year. Others told me I would love the summers and hate the winters. Moving into an older 1880's remodeled farmhouse I began to anticipate the coming of a cold winter with a fair amount of snow, something I had never known either in California or New Mexico. It seemed to offer both an unsettling and exciting change from what I had known previously.

 

Moving to a new environment as a photographer offers the creative opportunity to explore new imagery. Upstate New York and the Finger Lakes for half the year is green and dense with many trees and foliage. The eleven Finger Lakes are long narrow lakes that were formed by depressions of land, with hills pushed up between them. They are bowels of water, and to get to the next lake one needs to drive up and over the hill which separates it from the adjoining lake. Ithaca lies at the bottom of Lake Cayuga, between the larger cities of Syracuse and Binghamton. This area is also rural New York with many farms spread out among small rural towns. Ithaca, however is one of the larger towns with over 50,000 people, although many of these are students attending Cornell and Ithaca College.

 

 

Now one might expect that a photographer arriving in such a place would naturally gravitate towards making landscape pictures to come to terms with the new environment. But this did not happen for several reasons. On one hand adjusting to my new role as university professor and to the task of learning to participate on a university faculty and teaching students full time proved a big challenge, one which kept me on campus most of the time. Perhaps as the result of this my first photo project in Ithaca was directed toward creating a "at home" self portrait which was both easier to accomplish and also necessary for me to find my place in this new location and life style. This group of images was my way of finding a new voice while I focused on my experiences at that time of my life. This resulted in a group of twenty images that were exhibited at several locations in the US.

 

In 1980 I moved into a new phase at Cornell, as I was granted tenure and shortly thereafter became the Chair of the Art Department for a five year term. One would think that with new administrative duties I would have even less time for my photographic work, but in fact the opposite happened. I experienced one of my most productive growth periods as an artist.

 

Two things happened to help move me along. On one hand I had been exploring color photography for several years and had started to teach it in my classes. My interest in color imagery grew and blossomed and I began to experience the excitement of color. But also as I was even more confined on campus due to my administrative duties I put my attention to finding a way to expand my work into new and uncharted areas in my campus studio.

 

 

This took the form of setting up a copy stand in my studio just down the hall from my Department Chair's office which would allow me to more easily continue my personal work.

 

It started innocuously enough with me buying some vegetables at the local farmers market intending to photograph them in the studio underneath a 4x5 camera attached to the copy stand. I put the vegetables in the frig in my studio and forgot about them. One day remembering they were still there I got them out and found them in various stages of decay. Looking at them, I found they were even more interesting in their changes than when fresh. Also I had the sudden impulse to "enhance" this deterioration so I picked up hardware tools, a hammer, pliers, screwdrivers, etc., and worked over the vegetables, pounding, squeezing, etc.They became even more interesting to me. Moreover the colors seemed to expand their range of feelings. Then I arranged these vegetables but also added in the tools themselves used to shape the organic objects. At first these were arranged freeform, but then later in careful patterns, drawing on my strong design training from architecture. The result was quite pleasing. The use of the 4x5 camera and color film also meant I could achieve crisp and excellent detail for the final images. These were then printed as 16x20 color prints in my darkroom on campus.

 

Once I had assembled and created some twenty images I began to search for exhibit venues. It turned out that these were to be shown in the next few years both nationally and abroad. During 1984 I had exhibitions both in New York City at the O. K. Harris Gallery in SOHO, and also at the San Francisco Museum of Modern art, a two person show with my talented photographer friend Barbara Kaston. Then in 1985 I made a summer trip to the Recontres Internationales de la Photographie conference in Arles, FRANCE where I again showed my work around with much critical acclaim. This resulted in a series of shows in Europe at various locations over the next two years as well as a more extensive show at the Recontres in 1986.

 

Looking for a way to extend this body of works I began creating a more complex series of images where each was composed actually of four images, so called "Quadrants". The intention was to create more complexity by having four images that can be experienced separately, but also can be viewed as one single image. These took a great deal of time to compose and photograph as I needed to be aware of the other three images that would be adjacent to each other. These works were subsequently shown in several locations in the US and abroad. However this was the completion of an exciting run of images and also marked the end of this kind of assemblage for me. But the interesting thing is that even though I would go back only once more to using a copy stand and large format camera to make images using traditional photo methods in the not too distant future I would again start creating collages of images but this time it would be on a computer.

 

I would complete two more significant photographic series of images using a camera and making prints in a photographic darkroom in the 1980's. The first would be from a stay at an artists colony in Paris, France, in 1987. Having stepped down as Chair of the Art Department I now had time to work on my photography in earnest. Additionally I had decided to explore the possibilities inherent in photographing with large format camera's, using both 4x5 and 8x10 view camera's.

 

Learning about the possibility of a residency at Cite Des Arts International in Paris I applied and was accepted in the spring of 1987. On sabbatical leave from Cornell, I traveled to Paris and moved into a studio apartment in the Cite which was located in the heart of Paris adjacent to the Seine River and just opposite Notre Dame Cathedral. Now I had been to France before to attend photographic conferences but had never stayed for a longer period of time to photograph. I found like many other artists before me that I was lost at first regarding what I might photograph. I had taken the 8x10 field camera with me and started lugging this around Paris taking pictures. I really enjoyed setting up the camera and frequently had a group of Parisians around me, all curious about what I was doing. My intention was to make both color and black and white film exposures, develop the black and white negatives there in my Paris studio, but take the color negatives back to Ithaca to process.

 

 

I had arrived in April but found that by the end of July I really did not have any sort of satisfying body of images. In August, with four weeks left of my residency, I suddenly realized what it was that was attracting my attention and what I wished to photograph. During my stay in Paris as I walked around I saw a mixture of all sorts of ads for various products or services on wall or display surfaces, movie announcements, ads for sexual phone connections, etc. What struck me most was the stark contrast of this advertising with the classical character and architecture of Paris. Suddenly I realized what I wanted to do, make images with my 8x10 camera which expressed this contrast.

 

When I returned to Ithaca in the fall of 1987 I began to process the color negatives that I brought back from Paris, and print them on 20x24 Kodak color papers in my home darkroom, a nicely outfitted spacious room newly created a few years earlier. The color printing process is much more demanding than black and white requiring keeping the chemicals at a precise temperature within a degree or two either way. I had also built special covered processing trays so that I could turn on lights to see while processing prints. However when I was exposing paper and loading it in the covered tray I needed to do it in darkness or at times use a dim color safelight, making it possible to see just a little bit. At that time I also had an 8x10 enlarger so I could print enlargements of the 8x10 color or black and white negatives brought back from Paris.

 

Then in 1989 I was offered the opportunity to spend the fall semester teaching in the Cornell program in Rome. located in the Palazzo Massimo not far away from the Piazza Navona in the heart of Rome. The location was a historic palazzo that appears in most of the current architecture history books about Rome including the classic text by the noted historian Banister Fletcher. Thinking that this would offer me the opportunity to also photograph this amazing major urban city, I took with me a 4x5 field camera and both color negative and black and white sheet film. My plan was to do the same as when I was in Paris, process the black and white there and bring the color film back to Ithaca for processing afterwards.

 

Rome 1989.

Rome was an incredible experience and I was able to get out and photograph throughout the entire city. Amazing scenes are everywhere. Rome is a contrast, being a mix of the ancient Roman ruins, classic Italian medieval and Renaissance churches and buildings, and yet also being a large modern urban city. One is almost not sure what to photograph as everywhere one goes there are things to picture. Finally I began to realize that again it was contrasts of ancient and modern that was fascinating me, the montage of the unexpected, the fantastic mix of the classic with modern Rome street life.

 

When I returned to Ithaca I processed my exposed color films and thought about how I might picture this experience. Since it was the contrasting mix of objects that held my attention I decided to montage my pictures. I made many prints of scenes, cut out objects from the prints with a knife. and layered these back together on a copy stand and re-photographed them with my 4x5 camera to create a single image. This resulted in a series of some 16 images, all printed on Kodak chromogenic color paper.

 

What is most significant about the Rome series may be that it was the last group of images that I printed in a photo darkroom. Soon after I dismantled my home darkroom and converted it into a computer room in which I could pursue my growing interest in computer technology. This series is also interesting because in that I began to more fully explore the montage of objects in a picture space, a process that transferred over to the computer as I found I could do it much more easily that way and with even much more possibilities for control and manipulation.

 

The New Technology. 1984 to 2002.

 

During the 1980's while I was deeply involved with using a large format camera and making type C Kodak color prints I was also getting my first taste of the approaching technology revolution which would soon invade the photographic world to change it inevitably and irrevocably. In 1984 Apple introduced the first MAC computer and I soon bought one through Cornell. This was an exciting experience although I did not know how to use this for much more the text writing and editing. The importing of images had not yet begun.

 

Then in 1985 I learned that Cornell had a grant program funded through IBM in which IBM would supply state of the art computer equipment to faculty for research. I applied and received a grant of $20,000 for equipment, a computer, software, and a IBM color printer, the first ever of it's kind. But I wanted to use this for making images, not writing text or crunching numbers, so I went in search of graphics software. By chance I found an inexpensive paint program at the Cornell Campus Store which would allow me to paint with 16 colors. Starting with that I began to make abstract color images, focusing on the pixels and combinations of pixels, just like the French painter Seurat had done in the 19th century with daubs of paint. Additionally I found I could easily manipulate the images, such as duplicate and repeat sections, "inverse" (reverse) the color of pixels, rotate sections making them turn 90% either direction or flip horizontal or vertical. All this was new to me and quite exciting. When finished I printed out these images on my IBM color printer, cut them in squares, and pasted them together into a larger work by taping them together on the backside with clear cellophane tape. It was primitive at the time but it allowed me to begin my exploration of the basics of digital imaging.

 

About the same time a fortunate conversation with a Cornell College staff member opened up the window of my vision about the possibilities of this new technology for photography. Sitting in his office one day I said to him that I would really like to be able to work with an image in the darkroom and for example take an arm that was hanging down and move it around so it was stretched up. I said this was almost impossible to do in a darkroom. His reply was, "Well, you know, you can probably do that on the computer". Suddenly the possibility of computer manipulation of images dawned on me. If I could digitize photographic images then the sort of image manipulation I desired was possible. This propelled me to go across campus and search out people who were just beginning to explore the use of the computer for creating and editing graphic images.

 

Not long after getting my IBM research equipment I came across some other new equipment that really excited me. A colleague invited me to a demo on campus by a company called Truevision that was showing a graphics board they had designed that would capture video images, called the ICB(Image Capture Board). This board was connected to an external video camera that could capture still images. They had also designed a software program called TIPS for manipulating these images with much greater possibilities than I had with my simple Campus Store bought software. Fortunately the Truevision folks were willing to loan their equipment to Cornell for a while, and about a month later I was offered the equipment and set up a station in my campus studio. One of the first undertakings was to invite professor colleagues and students into my studio, grab images of them, and then manipulate the images in TIPS. What fascinated me was the possibility to duplicate 1/2 of a face, flip it over, and get a completely symmetrical face, something that does not occur in reality. This was an exciting time and I created my first series of digital images that were shown later in several gallery exhibitions.

 

As time went on I bought a video camera and experimented more and more with grabbing images and importing them for manipulation into the computer. But grabbed video images at that time were rather low resolution and not satisfying to someone acquainted with the detail of an 8x10 film camera image. So I began to search for a way to get higher resolution images, and the first breakthrough came when in the late 1980's I discovered and purchased a Microtek flatbed scanner. Suddenly I had a crispness and detail not available through video images. This was the beginning of my ongoing use of the scanner as a means for importing images into the computer arena, a way of working that continues today.

 

In the early 1990's I scanned in photo images as the digital still camera had not yet arrived, and would not really appear for general consumers until the Kodak introduced their DC line in 1996. I gathered printed images from magazines, newspapers and other printed sources which I then used in my works. I also was able to scan film negatives and prints made with a standard film camera on my flatbed camera and use these in image collages. Then I came across Photoshop that Adobe had released in 1990, and was blown away by possibilities. However initially I was not able to use the program as I only had a PC computer and Photoshop was a MAC only program. But then in 1993 the Windows PC version of Photoshop appeared and I jumped into image editing on Photoshop with both feet.

 

When shifting to a new medium it is not uncommon for an artist to struggle a while to establish a voice. It is a matter of really beginning to understand the materials and how one can relate them to one's personal life experiences. It is a matter of becoming fluent with the new language which is necessary for artistic expression. Even though I started doing some imaging on the computer in the 1980's I would have to say that it was in the mid 1990's that I began to feel comfortable with this new technology and find my ways of expression. It also corresponded with my retirement from teaching at Cornell, allowing me the chance to follow my desires as an artist more or less full time.

 

My first art exploration after leaving teaching began in 2000. I was inspired to try some painting which I had done on and off for more than 40 years. But as I worked on painting in acrylics on canvases I became convinced they needed something more. So I scanned in objects on the flatbed scanner and printed them out on canvas on a recently purchased Encad wider format printer. Then I cut these out with a sharp knife and glued them down on top of the painted canvases. This became a very interesting series of multimedia collages, a meeting of traditional acrylic painting with digital images.

 

Also in the same period of time I began my first really significant series of digital only art images. Working still with a flatbed scanner I began to archive all sorts of objects and montage these together on the computer in Photoshop, sometimes with a few digital camera shots added. This first series stretched on into 2002 and included sometimes strange combinations of objects. On one hand this seemed a natural continuation of what I had been doing with my photographic collages made on a copy stand some ten years earlier, only now it was infinitely easier to piece elements together in Photoshop. Moreover it offered so many more possibilities of arrangement and manipulations. At the same time these digital montages afforded me the opportunity to reconnect with my strong design background from my years as an architect, and to challenge me to find just the right organization to satisfy me. Finally I had always been interested in strong contrasts and juxtapositions of dissimilar objects, and this held full sway in these works.

 

Expanding Explorations in digital imagery. 2003 on.

 

Beginning in 2003 I have been increasingly expanding my interests and activities in scanning and digitally collaging images. This has been aided by tremendous advances in the power and speed of computers and the progressive sophistication of software programs, particularly Adobe Photoshop. What I do now I could not have done a half dozen years ago, and the pace of these changes just keeps increasing. And with it my excitement and pace of discovery grows.

 

In 2003 I changed my subject matter significantly. In earlier painting collages I had scanned some flowers and used these in several works. The thing I liked then and still like about flowers is the beauty of colors, incredible textures, and the fascinating organic shapes. As time went by I began to make a series of very dense and intricate collages, using a variety of flowers as subject matter. At the same time I used the power of Photoshop to create numerous layers, sometimes to reshape and resize the flowers, and frequently to change colors. One thing I had discovered all the way back when I started making color photographs in the 1980's is that I am at heart a colorist. I like and respond to strong colors, to contrasts of colors, and to harmonies of color. This is a feature in all my color work just as light and tonalities were my obsession with black and white photography.

 

Then in 2006 I made another shift where I still actively collaged layers of flowers but the overall effect became even more loose than before. Slowly I was moving toward abstraction as I became more aware that my vision had long been concerned with shapes, color, textures, patterns, and their organization within a picture field. Moreover I also started to create the images within a square rather than in a rectangle which to some is more of a photographic picture shape. But what I found is that a square offered much more possibilities for energizing the total work through juxtaposition with the four edges of the picture. Something about this seemed both more exciting and satisfying.

 

What is so exciting for me about working digitally is that as time goes by computers get more powerful, software gets more sophisticated, which in turn expands the range of what one can create as a digital artist. Since 2007 I have been exploring more fully the range and sophistication of Adobe Photoshop which over the years just gets better. What I found difficult to achieve in 2003 is now easier and quicker. For me this is a blessing as what I am finding is that the speed at which I can work is coming closer to the speed of my imagination. Moreover as the software gets better and better I begin to imagine new possibilities that are provoked by what the software can now do. With technology, as with art, the better it gets the better it gets.

 

2008 has marked a shift in my work as an artist to abstraction, perhaps surprising to some, but not to me. As I began to look back on my career in the visual arts which covers almost 50 years I notice some similarities. When I began as a photographer in the late 1950's I photographed at several locations in California where I made black and white images that had a certain composition about them that seemed as much about abstract organization as about the place where the pictures were taken. These locations were Point Lobos CA, Byron Hot Springs CA near Sacramento, and White Sands NM.

 

What I have noticed lately is that I still like these images greatly because, first, they have an abstract organization to them that continues to satisfy me even today. In particular the picture of a broken window at Byron Hot Springs may show a broken window but the real importance for me is the abstract organization of broken glass and mullions. It holds my attention because of the organization of shades of white, gray and black. At the same time it expresses a feeling of decay that I found at Byron, but this is only in addition to the patterns of shapes that I saw and photographed there.

 

In the early part of 2008 I started on a daily regimen that has proved most effective for me as an artist. I began to get up at 5 AM in the morning and sat down at my computer to make images. I used Photoshop and decided to explore the drawing tools in the program which I had not used very much previously. My intention was to create abstractions which had recently caught my attention through looking at contemporary abstract painting. Also I decided not to start with any imported photograph or scanned image, but to create everything fresh using just Photoshop drawing tools.

 

What happened was extraordinary. As I worked with Photoshop I began to find new ways to make shapes and textures. Then keeping them in layers I moved them around until I had a composition that felt right. Then I would frequently create overlays using selections of pixels in existing layers, add changes using blending tools, and sometimes use lighting filters. The experience was exhilarating and felt totally freeing. It seemed as if I could respond to what was in front of me instantaneously to add or modify arrangements to get something exciting and very new.

 

As i did this on a daily basis, each morning, I often was able to complete a work on the computer. It soon occurred to me that if I were making a computer piece a day that I could have more than 300 in a years time. Now since beginning this regimen I have not created that number of works during the last year but the total number is closer to 200, a real prolific outpouring. Some of these are more exciting than others to me and seem to have more to them, but what I find is that there is a never ending number of variations and surprises of what I can create.

 

At the same time another variation has appeared offering an expanded richness. Earlier I related how in 1985 I spent a brief period creating works using a simple program that featured pixels in 16 colors, and this became my source for several bodies of work. Now in 2008 I began to remember these images and regain that interest in pixels. I keep searching for those features that define digital imaging, that make it different from other media like painting, sculpture, and printmaking. It seems to me it is the pixel that defines digital imaging, that is the basic building block.

 

So I have undertaken to create new works, still abstract, that feature pixels. What I do is to take images that I have on my computer and zoom in on these to a pixel level in Photoshop. Then I grab a copy of this, enhance the squares of pixels, and begin to select groups of colors that become layers on top of the original grabbed image of pixels. Moreover what I also do is start by searching and grabbing images from the Internet of political or social personalities or events, zooming in and converting these into arrangements of pixels, and changing and enhancing these in numerous ways. I like and think it is important to make a connection to actual events or people because then the source of my works is contemporary history and culture. However in the end there is a translation into pixels and abstraction which takes it into another arena, that of abstract art.

 

Finally my exploration of abstraction continues as I experiment with new materials on which to print and push the boundaries of what I can do in the software. It seems that the possibilities are endless and grow daily.

 

New Photography but with differences. 2009.

 

What is so interesting for artists is that they often seem to come back to processes and imagery that they may have started many years earlier, but the return is marked by a new depth of understanding based upon all the intervening years of experience and exploration of new processes, materials and visions. This has been the case for me in the last few years where I have again picked up and photographed with a camera, only this time with a high end digital camera rather than a 35mm film camera. Also I have returned to making more traditional photographs of landscapes only this time in color and with a wide angle lens and processed and enhanced in Adobe Photoshop. New materials (digital cameras and software) are enabling me to achieve new kinds of presentation that were not available to me when I first started as a photographer in the late 1950's, but in addition I have discovered a new vision for presenting some of my images which I am calling "grand landscapes" because for me they encompass the grandeur of natural landscape.

 

I started my early career in art as a photographer in the late 1950's using a 35mm film camera and black and white film to create some of my first serious photography. Perhaps my first significant images were taken at Point Lobos along the California seacoast in the Carmel Bay area just below Monterey. Although my main interest there were the fantastic rock formations and textures some images were taken to show the wider seacoast where water meets the rocks.

 

However my first experience more focused on the wider landscape was at White Sands National Monument in White Sands New Mexico. There I pointed my camera to get a broader view of the landscape to show the shape and texture of the sand dunes, photographed in the late afternoon when the light and shadows were most dramatic.

 

Over the years I have returned to photographing with the camera at various times but usually not with the intention of creating so called "straight unaltered images". As I became more involved with the computer and digital imaging from 1985 on I found myself drawn more and more into the deconstruction and reconstruction of images. The single straight image was growing of less interest as I took to exploring how images could be sliced into pieces and montaged back together to create new statements and content. My intention has been to explore how digital processes and digitized imagery could be fashioned and refashioned to create works of art. To me it seemed like new territory for the artist to explore, having new tools to create works with. I have also focused on exploring and creating imagery that has it's own character different from any other media. Creating digital works that one might see as similar to painting, sculpture and printmaking has never been of interest to me.

 

Then in 2009, for the first time in quite a few years, I picked up a camera and went outdoors to take photographs. My first actual set of images, taken with a newly acquired medium wide angle lens and a Pentax DSLR came about while taking a fall vacation trip to Cape Cod at the National Seashore. It was simply a revelation for me and I began to see photographic possibilities that I had not seen before. Moreover it also included color and light and although both of these were not new to me I began to see how I could record and express these in a new way that was more extraordinary. It seemed as if I was seeing wide landscape scenes for the first time and knew intuitively how to put them together in a photographic image.

 

One source for my inspiration regarding the grand landscape has always been the paintings of the Hudson River School of artists such as Thomas Cole, Frederick Church, and John Kenett. There is on one hand a broad picturing of landscape from the foreground to background with sharp detail in all areas. There is also a quiet pastoral feeling combined with a special sense of atmosphere and light. These painters were after celebrating the beauty and special quality of the American landscape. In the back of my mind I carry the pictures of these images, the way in which these artists pictured the landscape, the way they bring in the viewer and involve them in the feeling of space and atmosphere.

 

Now one might say that Cape Cod is very special and it would be hard to not take amazing pictures there. Yes, on one hand it is unique but at the same time the images taken there can be just about anything and the real difference is the person conceiving of and taking the images. It is a matter of visualization. When I first started taking these pictures I did have the Hudson River School images in mind but I also was looking at the scenes with a new appreciation of landscape and feelings about how I wanted to picture it, not just like those painters but in my own special style and perception. Also in my mind was all the landscapes I had photographed over the years, how I had organized light and space and what atmosphere I had sought after.

 

After creating the Cape Cod images I had a clear vision of what I wanted for other landscape photographs. Since I live in upstate New York I turned my attention to local scenes and discovered to my surprise that there were all sorts of image possibilities that had never seen before to catch my attention. There is a special quality about farmland areas in the northeast US and I found I suddenly had new eyes to view what is around me. I have lived in the Ithaca area of upstate New York for over 30 years and suddenly I could see landscape image possibilities that I intuitively knew would work. This resulted in an expanded series of farmland scenes that represented my photography vision at that time.

 

And then the Photo World Changed For Me. 2012.

 

Creeping along behind the scenes has been a revolution in digital imaging which will transform photography and open up unimagined avenues of exploration for an artist. Like many others I started using a flip top cell phone starting about 2006 which served me primarily as a communication device. Then in 2009 I switched over to an Apple iPhone 3GS being a long time Apple computer user and because I was intrigued by their newest iPhone offering. I started enjoying the new features and also began to take pictures with it, something not available with my earlier phone. These pictures were intriguing but I had no real plan for them. They were mostly just a novelty.

 

Also In 2002 I got inspired to do giclee prints of my works. I concluded to do this and get high quality prints I needed a large format printer so I first purchased a top of the line 54" Colorspan printer and then later a 60" Canon large format printer, and recently a Canon 44 in. iPF 8300 printer. From there I started making prints not only for myself but for other artists and people which resulted in my establishing a giclee printing business which is still in operation and growing. At the beginning I started by printing images captured on high end DSLR cameras and some of these have been quite spectacular in color and detail. Also most of my clients seek me out because they want high quality giclee prints along with one-to-one service, and this is what I am able to offer. Most times one cannot get this personalized attention from the large volume print houses even though they may have lower prices.

 

Enter the New iPhone.

 

In 2012 I traded in my 3GS phone for the new iPhone 4S and then suddenly everything changed. I was blown away by the quality of the picture, the crispness of detail. I also experimented with printing these out on my wide format printer and was astounded by the results, getting superb prints all the way up to 24"x36". I realized that the technology is moving forward at a fast pace as well as toward miniaturization and that cell phones may just replace the DSLR in terms of quality. Moreover Since I always carry my phone with me at most times it means I can take a photo wherever I am. Using a DSLR I have to make it a point to carry my camera equipment with me and this is not always convenient or even possible. So suddenly the iPhone expands my possibilities for picture taking to places I might never have taken pictures before. And furthermore it has moved me towards taking pictures more quickly and spontaneously than ever before. Sometimes a spontaneous images can be quite exciting and say more about a place or event than something that is more carefully planned and executed.

 

And add to that, Here Come the APPS,

 

As time went by I have began to use my iPhone as my main picture capturing device and my high quality Nikon DSLR is getting a layer of dust from lack of use. But a little over two years ago I also became aware that there are a growing abundance of apps for the iPhone iOS and I started to purchase these from the Apple app store. Now the thing about these apps is that most are not very expensive, sometimes free, but often starting at $.99 cents and at other times costing $1.99 up to $3.99 for an app with more robust features. And what also became apparent to me is that the number and quality of available apps is growing at an enormous rate so my collection has grown to include nearly 70 apps, and the number continues to grow.

 

So what does this mean? Many of these apps have basic editing features that are quite good and I use them frequently on my phone or iPad to improve the quality of the images I capture. But also I have discovered and purchased apps that do some specialized actions that distort or colorize or add texture to a picture. Some like the 360 Panorama app convert a 360 degree image into a sphere and the Decim8 app re-translates the images into exciting and intriguing abstracts. Or another called Glitche offers a mind blowing array of translations into all sorts of partially or fully restructured  abstractions.  And there is even an Adobe Photoshop Express app for those experienced with the bigger desktop version of Photoshop and who just want some basic Photoshop editing features.

 

For me this has opened up a whole new avenue of exploration. As a photographer who on one hand started in the late 1950's with straight black and white photography I am always looking for interesting situations or events or places to capture images. But also my early training in art introduced me to abstract painting that was dominant then and still strong now in the art world. So my inclination has taken me toward the use the iPhone to capture straight photo images and then use some of newly available apps to take and translate these photo images into often unrecognizable abstract images. Sometimes a little hint of the source remains but often that gets translated into a totally non-representational work. Then I use other apps to add other layers of effects. I have always been partial to texture in a photo so I have an array of apps that create fascinating textures. Sometimes after capturing a photo I will process it through 4 to 8 apps totally changing and abstracting it into something completely different and unexpected. Part of the enjoyment of this process is discovering what totally new image is created.

 

Years ago i began photography because it fascinated me as an emerging art form. The thing is I always have been inclined towards exploring the leading edge in the world of art. Photography in the 1950's struck me that way.  And now the iPhone and apps have got my attention. Technology has upended both photography and the art world and It will be interesting to see where it goes and where I am led.

 

So is this the conclusion of my history as an artist? No, not until I am no longer around to continue it. And until then I will be adding new additions to this narrative as I will continue to explore art and being an artist and trying out new techniques and materials as these evolve.

 

Digital art is just beginning and digital technology will not only transform the way we live, is transforming how we live, but also will transform the way we have done things as artists by providing new techniques and possibilities for making art. And those artists who like to live out on the creative edge of art will be contributing to expanding the parameters of art and defining what it is and does in the future. And until I am gone that is where I want to be, out on that leading edge.

 

CONTINUED IN THE FUTURE.

 

 

 

 

HISTORY AS AN ARTIST

 

 

Now I am not really part of the "computer generation" but I spend a lot of time in front of a computer these days. I grew up in the 1940's and 50's when the "Drive In" and crew cuts were the norm of the day. Yet today I have an ongoing fascination with computer technology which perhaps can be seen on one hand as bordering on the obsessive, but also  as a sensible recognition that we have moved into a new digital age where "electronics" has become our mantra.

 

How It Started.

 

So what made me jump headlong into this 21st century technology? Perhaps it has been my fascination with the "new" because I grew up in California where practically nothing seemed anything more than a few years old. As a boy I lived in eight different houses before I was 14, all rented by my parents. My father did not believe in owning a house. Only in high school did I live in one house and then for only four years until graduation. But it was also during this time that I discovered what at first was a new hobby, later an ongoing fascination, and finally an obsession. This was photography. It started innocuously enough in 1951 with the gift of a small snapshot camera and a developing kit. Working at night in the garage of our current rented house I carefully loaded film onto a reel under a dim red light, mixed chemicals, and processed a roll of film. Taking the film out of the canister fixative solution I unrolled it and saw on the film, miraculously, the negative images that were unmistakably of objects and people. What excitement, what magic. Hence was born my desire to take and make pictures.

 

When I got to high school I succumbed to the same interests that most high school kids adopt, sports, cars and girls. Photography faded into the background and did not emerge until a number of years later in college. In 1961 at the University of California in Berkeley I entered the architecture program and one semester took a course on lighting. One project was to find a place to study the change of sunlight from dawn to dusk. When I heard this I thought "O. K., I can do this with photographs". I found a covered passageway with large windows between two Berkeley campus building and made exposures outside from one spot every hour of the day. Then I printed four photographs for the project, four different times of the day. Looking at the pictures I was amazed by the patterns of sunlight that came through the windows and changed dramatically during the course of the day, This study was an epiphany for me. I was totally mesmerized by the shapes created and quality of light, and this set the direction of my interest in photography then and for the future.

 

My Time As An Architect. 1964 to 1970.

 

After graduation in 1964 the next ten years passed quickly, with me getting my architectural license and working in several architectural offices in the San Francisco Bay area. At some point I began to think again about making photographs, bought a new Pentax 35mm camera, and began taking photo classes at University of California Extension in Berkeley. It was fun and my collection of pictures grew quite rapidly. However what had started out as an interesting weekend diversion from my regular job had also become a compelling obsession.

 

One project grabbed my attention for over a year and became my first really significant black and white photographic project. My architectural job required me to travel by bus across the Bay Bridge into San Francisco, and then walk to my job. Each day I would arrive at the bus depot in San Francisco and I became fascinated with the people who were there each day who seemed to be almost like permanent residents, One day I took my camera with me intending to take some photographs of the depot and its residents. One of the first things I discovered was that as soon as I took my camera out they became aware of and stared at me. It was only when I put the camera on a tripod and waited a while did they start to ignore me. Then I took my pictures. Many trips later I had a set of images that for me caught the character and mood of the place and the interesting residents. This became the images of my first serious photo exhibition, and was then followed by a similar series of photographs taken at the San Francisco Train Depot.

 

The real watershed experience in photography, however, came in June of 1968. That summer I made a trip south along the California coast from San Francisco Bay to Point Lobos State Park for several days of picture making with some photo friends. I knew before I went that I would be traversing the rocks and shoreline where Edward Weston and Ansel Adams had produced such wonderful and creative photographs some 30 years before. But I was not quite fully prepared for the extraordinary beauty of the location.

 

Now the thing about Point Lobos is that it is probably one of the most astounding coastlines in the world with incredible rock formations worn smooth and spectacular by eons of water washing up onto the shore. Tide pools and small sea creatures are everywhere. As I was standing there next to the water the warm and magnificent late afternoon cut across the incredible rock formations. I saw a play of light and shadow that was immensely moving and beautiful. The textures and shapes and movements of lines of the rocks mesmerized me. Motivated to make pictures, I took many images with my Pentax 35mm camera being aware that I was making some of the best images I had ever made.

 

 

As I drove back to my Bay Area home I felt a certainty that I had captured the amazing beauty of the scenes I had just witnessed. I even thought about how I would print the images, using Agfa Protriga Rapid silver gelatin photo paper (which unfortunately is no longer available). Now the thing about that paper was that it contained more silver than most papers so blacks are deeper, yielding a longer tone range than could be gotten with other materials. Additionally Protrega had a slightly warm brownish tone, and I knew this would perfectly match the mood I saw created by the warm afternoon light as I was taking pictures. In the days after I arrived home I carefully developed the rolls of film, made contact sheets, and saw to my delight that the images I had hoped for were there, even more amazing than I had hoped for.

 

About a year after my trip to Point Lobos, in 1969, I undertook another photo project that provided me with new images for a third significant group of photographs. The location was an abandoned turn of the century hot springs resort called Byron Hot Springs, near Stockton, California. I arrived there one spring day with a group of photo friends who had been telling me interesting things about the place. Immediately I was fascinated as I saw several groups of lavish but deteriorating buildings, all no longer in use but still presenting the remnants of the former glory of the resort. What I learned then from the on-site caretaker was that this place had a compelling and fascinating history both as a posh turn of the century resort but also as an internment camp during the Second World War. The details of this second use were rather vague, and I assumed at the time it had been used to intern Japanese Americans.

 

Byron Hot Springs when it was built in the 1890's had become one of the most lavish and desirable hot springs resorts not only in the United States, but also abroad. Submerged large and beautiful marble lined tubs with warm soothing hot spring water drew the wealthy of that time to the California valley. Opulent hotel accommodations matched the magnificent springs to make this a most special place to visit. But what I found was a fascinating but mixed history. The resort had been abandoned for over 20 years and looked it.

 

At the end of my first day there I knew that I would have an amazing group of images. Everywhere was astounding in the form of sensuous surfaces and textures, all showing the effects of time and deterioration, and pieces of evidence referring to the prisoner years. I sensed that I could make a photo essay of this that would be about the history of this place, but also that I could create a group of fascinating photographs that in themselves were about light, rich surface texture, and shapes. The latter interested me the most. For almost the entire summer I made trips back and forth the Byron Hot Springs and collected a group of exciting images that resulted in a significant series of photographs.

 

Let me add a quick postscript note about Byron Hot Springs. A recent Internet search revealed to me that in actuality this place had been used by the US Government during the Second World War to confine both German and Japanese prisoners of war. One of two such camps in the US, it was considered as a temporary detention center for the interrogation of prisoners. By the end of the war it had served its purpose and was turned back over to the original owners who made no particular attempt to renovate or reuse the facility.

 

MFA at the University of New Mexico. 1970 to 1973.

 

In 1970 I had started to consider leaving the profession of architecture. I had begun to realize that I was more interested in making photographs than in making buildings. After some soul searching I made the decision to leave architecture and apply to graduate school in photography with the intention of seeking a university teaching job after graduation. I then applied to the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM, one of the best photo programs in the nation, and was accepted. Being a student in the program was a pleasure, and it was an exciting time. It also gave me the chance to explore the southwest US, one of the most scenic areas of the United States.

 

 

In June of 1971 I made a summer trip to White Sands National Monument near Carlsbad, NM. The moment I saw the sand dunes unfolding before me I was in awe. Now the sand there is actually quite firm and it proved easy to walk some distance off the road . The warm late afternoon sunlight raked across the sand gently defining the peaks and valleys, creating wonderful patterns of light and shadow. The sky was clear, and there was no wind at all. White Sands is a huge national preserve and many photographs have been taken there. But I found myself able to see it for myself and to take a series of photographs that were as compelling as any of the work I had done previously.

 

After three years I completed the requirements for an Masters of Fine Art in photography, and graduated. During the spring of 1973 I began looking for a university teaching position, a challenging task for anyone just about to leave school. Imagine my surprise when I received a telephone call from Cornell University and was invited to fly out for an interview in the Architecture Department which was starting a new program in design communications which included a strong photography component. It was March when I flew out, the weather was cool but nice. I met and talked with a multitude of faculty and students, and at the end, much to my extreme pleasure, I was told I would receive a letter offering me a teaching position. I flew back to Albuquerque where I began to plan for a 2000 mile relocation to upstate New York, in the Finger Lakes, one of the most scenic locations in the United States.

 

The Cornell years. 1973-1999.

 

Arriving in Ithaca in the fall of 1973 I faced the immediate task of settling myself and my family in a brand new and unfamiliar environment. But it was also a fascinating new location with landscape completely different from either California or the deserts of New Mexico. Upon my arrival I was told by photo colleagues at Cornell that Ithaca was second only to Seattle in number of overcast days in a year. Others told me I would love the summers and hate the winters. Moving into an older 1880's remodeled farmhouse I began to anticipate the coming of a cold winter with a fair amount of snow, something I had never known either in California or New Mexico. It seemed to offer both an unsettling and exciting change from what I had known previously.

 

Moving to a new environment as a photographer offers the creative opportunity to explore new imagery. Upstate New York and the Finger Lakes for half the year is green and dense with many trees and foliage. The eleven Finger Lakes are long narrow lakes that were formed by depressions of land, with hills pushed up between them. They are bowels of water, and to get to the next lake one needs to drive up and over the hill which separates it from the adjoining lake. Ithaca lies at the bottom of Lake Cayuga, between the larger cities of Syracuse and Binghamton. This area is also rural New York with many farms spread out among small rural towns. Ithaca, however is one of the larger towns with over 50,000 people, although many of these are students attending Cornell and Ithaca College.

 

 

Now one might expect that a photographer arriving in such a place would naturally gravitate towards making landscape pictures to come to terms with the new environment. But this did not happen for several reasons. On one hand adjusting to my new role as university professor and to the task of learning to participate on a university faculty and teaching students full time proved a big challenge, one which kept me on campus most of the time. Perhaps as the result of this my first photo project in Ithaca was directed toward creating a "at home" self portrait which was both easier to accomplish and also necessary for me to find my place in this new location and life style. This group of images was my way of finding a new voice while I focused on my experiences at that time of my life. This resulted in a group of twenty images that were exhibited at several locations in the US.

 

In 1980 I moved into a new phase at Cornell, as I was granted tenure and shortly thereafter became the Chair of the Art Department for a five year term. One would think that with new administrative duties I would have even less time for my photographic work, but in fact the opposite happened. I experienced one of my most productive growth periods as an artist.

 

Two things happened to help move me along. On one hand I had been exploring color photography for several years and had started to teach it in my classes. My interest in color imagery grew and blossomed and I began to experience the excitement of color. But also as I was even more confined on campus due to my administrative duties I put my attention to finding a way to expand my work into new and uncharted areas in my campus studio.

 

This took the form of setting up a copy stand in my studio just down the hall from my Department Chair's office which would allow me to more easily continue my personal work.

 

It started innocuously enough with me buying some vegetables at the local farmers market intending to photograph them in the studio underneath a 4x5 camera attached to the copy stand. I put the vegetables in the frig in my studio and forgot about them. One day remembering they were still there I got them out and found them in various stages of decay. Looking at them, I found they were even more interesting in their changes than when fresh. Also I had the sudden impulse to "enhance" this deterioration so I picked up hardware tools, a hammer, pliers, screwdrivers, etc., and worked over the vegetables, pounding, squeezing, etc.They became even more interesting to me. Moreover the colors seemed to expand their range of feelings. Then I arranged these vegetables but also added in the tools themselves used to shape the organic objects. At first these were arranged freeform, but then later in careful patterns, drawing on my strong design training from architecture. The result was quite pleasing. The use of the 4x5 camera and color film also meant I could achieve crisp and excellent detail for the final images. These were then printed as 16x20 color prints in my darkroom on campus.

 

Once I had assembled and created some twenty images I began to search for exhibit venues. It turned out that these were to be shown in the next few years both nationally and abroad. During 1984 I had exhibitions both in New York City at the O. K. Harris Gallery in SOHO, and also at the San Francisco Museum of Modern art, a two person show with my talented photographer friend Barbara Kaston. Then in 1985 I made a summer trip to the Recontres Internationales de la Photographie conference in Arles, FRANCE where I again showed my work around with much critical acclaim. This resulted in a series of shows in Europe at various locations over the next two years as well as a more extensive show at the Recontres in 1986.

 

Looking for a way to extend this body of works I began creating a more complex series of images where each was composed actually of four images, so called "Quadrants". The intention was to create more complexity by having four images that can be experienced separately, but also can be viewed as one single image. These took a great deal of time to compose and photograph as I needed to be aware of the other three images that would be adjacent to each other. These works were subsequently shown in several locations in the US and abroad. However this was the completion of an exciting run of images and also marked the end of this kind of assemblage for me. But the interesting thing is that even though I would go back only once more to using a copy stand and large format camera to make images using traditional photo methods in the not too distant future I would again start creating collages of images but this time it would be on a computer.

 

I would complete two more significant photographic series of images using a camera and making prints in a photographic darkroom in the 1980's. The first would be from a stay at an artists colony in Paris, France, in 1987. Having stepped down as Chair of the Art Department I now had time to work on my photography in earnest. Additionally I had decided to explore the possibilities inherent in photographing with large format camera's, using both 4x5 and 8x10 view camera's.

 

Learning about the possibility of a residency at Cite Des Arts International in Paris I applied and was accepted in the spring of 1987. On sabbatical leave from Cornell, I traveled to Paris and moved into a studio apartment in the Cite which was located in the heart of Paris adjacent to the Seine River and just opposite Notre Dame Cathedral. Now I had been to France before to attend photographic conferences but had never stayed for a longer period of time to photograph. I found like many other artists before me that I was lost at first regarding what I might photograph. I had taken the 8x10 field camera with me and started lugging this around Paris taking pictures. I really enjoyed setting up the camera and frequently had a group of Parisians around me, all curious about what I was doing. My intention was to make both color and black and white film exposures, develop the black and white negatives there in my Paris studio, but take the color negatives back to Ithaca to process.

 

 

I had arrived in April but found that by the end of July I really did not have any sort of satisfying body of images. In August, with four weeks left of my residency, I suddenly realized what it was that was attracting my attention and what I wished to photograph. During my stay in Paris as I walked around I saw a mixture of all sorts of ads for various products or services on wall or display surfaces, movie announcements, ads for sexual phone connections, etc. What struck me most was the stark contrast of this advertising with the classical character and architecture of Paris. Suddenly I realized what I wanted to do, make images with my 8x10 camera which expressed this contrast.

 

When I returned to Ithaca in the fall of 1987 I began to process the color negatives that I brought back from Paris, and print them on 20x24 Kodak color papers in my home darkroom, a nicely outfitted spacious room newly created a few years earlier. The color printing process is much more demanding than black and white requiring keeping the chemicals at a precise temperature within a degree or two either way. I had also built special covered processing trays so that I could turn on lights to see while processing prints. However when I was exposing paper and loading it in the covered tray I needed to do it in darkness or at times use a dim color safelight, making it possible to see just a little bit. At that time I also had an 8x10 enlarger so I could print enlargements of the 8x10 color or black and white negatives brought back from Paris.

 

Then in 1989 I was offered the opportunity to spend the fall semester teaching in the Cornell program in Rome. located in the Palazzo Massimo not far away from the Piazza Navona in the heart of Rome. The location was a historic palazzo that appears in most of the current architecture history books about Rome including the classic text by the noted historian Banister Fletcher. Thinking that this would offer me the opportunity to also photograph this amazing major urban city, I took with me a 4x5 field camera and both color negative and black and white sheet film. My plan was to do the same as when I was in Paris, process the black and white there and bring the color film back to Ithaca for processing afterwards.

 

Rome 1989.

Rome was an incredible experience and I was able to get out and photograph throughout the entire city. Amazing scenes are everywhere. Rome is a contrast, being a mix of the ancient Roman ruins, classic Italian medieval and Renaissance churches and buildings, and yet also being a large modern urban city. One is almost not sure what to photograph as everywhere one goes there are things to picture. Finally I began to realize that again it was contrasts of ancient and modern that was fascinating me, the montage of the unexpected, the fantastic mix of the classic with modern Rome street life.

 

When I returned to Ithaca I processed my exposed color films and thought about how I might picture this experience. Since it was the contrasting mix of objects that held my attention I decided to montage my pictures. I made many prints of scenes, cut out objects from the prints with a knife. and layered these back together on a copy stand and re-photographed them with my 4x5 camera to create a single image. This resulted in a series of some 16 images, all printed on Kodak chromogenic color paper.

 

What is most significant about the Rome series may be that it was the last group of images that I printed in a photo darkroom. Soon after I dismantled my home darkroom and converted it into a computer room in which I could pursue my growing interest in computer technology. This series is also interesting because in that I began to more fully explore the montage of objects in a picture space, a process that transferred over to the computer as I found I could do it much more easily that way and with even much more possibilities for control and manipulation.

 

The New Technology. 1984 to 2002.

 

During the 1980's while I was deeply involved with using a large format camera and making type C Kodak color prints I was also getting my first taste of the approaching technology revolution which would soon invade the photographic world to change it inevitably and irrevocably. In 1984 Apple introduced the first MAC computer and I soon bought one through Cornell. This was an exciting experience although I did not know how to use this for much more the text writing and editing. The importing of images had not yet begun.

 

Then in 1985 I learned that Cornell had a grant program funded through IBM in which IBM would supply state of the art computer equipment to faculty for research. I applied and received a grant of $20,000 for equipment, a computer, software, and a IBM color printer, the first ever of it's kind. But I wanted to use this for making images, not writing text or crunching numbers, so I went in search of graphics software. By chance I found an inexpensive paint program at the Cornell Campus Store which would allow me to paint with 16 colors. Starting with that I began to make abstract color images, focusing on the pixels and combinations of pixels, just like the French painter Seurat had done in the 19th century with daubs of paint. Additionally I found I could easily manipulate the images, such as duplicate and repeat sections, "inverse" (reverse) the color of pixels, rotate sections making them turn 90% either direction or flip horizontal or vertical. All this was new to me and quite exciting. When finished I printed out these images on my IBM color printer, cut them in squares, and pasted them together into a larger work by taping them together on the backside with clear cellophane tape. It was primitive at the time but it allowed me to begin my exploration of the basics of digital imaging.

 

About the same time a fortunate conversation with a Cornell College staff member opened up the window of my vision about the possibilities of this new technology for photography. Sitting in his office one day I said to him that I would really like to be able to work with an image in the darkroom and for example take an arm that was hanging down and move it around so it was stretched up. I said this was almost impossible to do in a darkroom. His reply was, "Well, you know, you can probably do that on the computer". Suddenly the possibility of computer manipulation of images dawned on me. If I could digitize photographic images then the sort of image manipulation I desired was possible. This propelled me to go across campus and search out people who were just beginning to explore the use of the computer for creating and editing graphic images.

 

Not long after getting my IBM research equipment I came across some other new equipment that really excited me. A colleague invited me to a demo on campus by a company called Truevision that was showing a graphics board they had designed that would capture video images, called the ICB(Image Capture Board). This board was connected to an external video camera that could capture still images. They had also designed a software program called TIPS for manipulating these images with much greater possibilities than I had with my simple Campus Store bought software. Fortunately the Truevision folks were willing to loan their equipment to Cornell for a while, and about a month later I was offered the equipment and set up a station in my campus studio. One of the first undertakings was to invite professor colleagues and students into my studio, grab images of them, and then manipulate the images in TIPS. What fascinated me was the possibility to duplicate 1/2 of a face, flip it over, and get a completely symmetrical face, something that does not occur in reality. This was an exciting time and I created my first series of digital images that were shown later in several gallery exhibitions.

 

As time went on I bought a video camera and experimented more and more with grabbing images and importing them for manipulation into the computer. But grabbed video images at that time were rather low resolution and not satisfying to someone acquainted with the detail of an 8x10 film camera image. So I began to search for a way to get higher resolution images, and the first breakthrough came when in the late 1980's I discovered and purchased a Microtek flatbed scanner. Suddenly I had a crispness and detail not available through video images. This was the beginning of my ongoing use of the scanner as a means for importing images into the computer arena, a way of working that continues today.

 

In the early 1990's I scanned in photo images as the digital still camera had not yet arrived, and would not really appear for general consumers until the Kodak introduced their DC line in 1996. I gathered printed images from magazines, newspapers and other printed sources which I then used in my works. I also was able to scan film negatives and prints made with a standard film camera on my flatbed camera and use these in image collages. Then I came across Photoshop that Adobe had released in 1990, and was blown away by possibilities. However initially I was not able to use the program as I only had a PC computer and Photoshop was a MAC only program. But then in 1993 the Windows PC version of Photoshop appeared and I jumped into image editing on Photoshop with both feet.

 

When shifting to a new medium it is not uncommon for an artist to struggle a while to establish a voice. It is a matter of really beginning to understand the materials and how one can relate them to one's personal life experiences. It is a matter of becoming fluent with the new language which is necessary for artistic expression. Even though I started doing some imaging on the computer in the 1980's I would have to say that it was in the mid 1990's that I began to feel comfortable with this new technology and find my ways of expression. It also corresponded with my retirement from teaching at Cornell, allowing me the chance to follow my desires as an artist more or less full time.

 

My first art exploration after leaving teaching began in 2000. I was inspired to try some painting which I had done on and off for more than 40 years. But as I worked on painting in acrylics on canvases I became convinced they needed something more. So I scanned in objects on the flatbed scanner and printed them out on canvas on a recently purchased Encad wider format printer. Then I cut these out with a sharp knife and glued them down on top of the painted canvases. This became a very interesting series of multimedia collages, a meeting of traditional acrylic painting with digital images.

 

Also in the same period of time I began my first really significant series of digital only art images. Working still with a flatbed scanner I began to archive all sorts of objects and montage these together on the computer in Photoshop, sometimes with a few digital camera shots added. This first series stretched on into 2002 and included sometimes strange combinations of objects. On one hand this seemed a natural continuation of what I had been doing with my photographic collages made on a copy stand some ten years earlier, only now it was infinitely easier to piece elements together in Photoshop. Moreover it offered so many more possibilities of arrangement and manipulations. At the same time these digital montages afforded me the opportunity to reconnect with my strong design background from my years as an architect, and to challenge me to find just the right organization to satisfy me. Finally I had always been interested in strong contrasts and juxtapositions of dissimilar objects, and this held full sway in these works.

 

Expanding Explorations in digital imagery. 2003 on.

 

Beginning in 2003 I have been increasingly expanding my interests and activities in scanning and digitally collaging images. This has been aided by tremendous advances in the power and speed of computers and the progressive sophistication of software programs, particularly Adobe Photoshop. What I do now I could not have done a half dozen years ago, and the pace of these changes just keeps increasing. And with it my excitement and pace of discovery grows.

 

In 2003 I changed my subject matter significantly. In earlier painting collages I had scanned some flowers and used these in several works. The thing I liked then and still like about flowers is the beauty of colors, incredible textures, and the fascinating organic shapes. As time went by I began to make a series of very dense and intricate collages, using a variety of flowers as subject matter. At the same time I used the power of Photoshop to create numerous layers, sometimes to reshape and resize the flowers, and frequently to change colors. One thing I had discovered all the way back when I started making color photographs in the 1980's is that I am at heart a colorist. I like and respond to strong colors, to contrasts of colors, and to harmonies of color. This is a feature in all my color work just as light and tonalities were my obsession with black and white photography.

 

Then in 2006 I made another shift where I still actively collaged layers of flowers but the overall effect became even more loose than before. Slowly I was moving toward abstraction as I became more aware that my vision had long been concerned with shapes, color, textures, patterns, and their organization within a picture field. Moreover I also started to create the images within a square rather than in a rectangle which to some is more of a photographic picture shape. But what I found is that a square offered much more possibilities for energizing the total work through juxtaposition with the four edges of the picture. Something about this seemed both more exciting and satisfying.

 

What is so exciting for me about working digitally is that as time goes by computers get more powerful, software gets more sophisticated, which in turn expands the range of what one can create as a digital artist. Since 2007 I have been exploring more fully the range and sophistication of Adobe Photoshop which over the years just gets better. What I found difficult to achieve in 2003 is now easier and quicker. For me this is a blessing as what I am finding is that the speed at which I can work is coming closer to the speed of my imagination. Moreover as the software gets better and better I begin to imagine new possibilities that are provoked by what the software can now do. With technology, as with art, the better it gets the better it gets.

 

2008 has marked a shift in my work as an artist to abstraction, perhaps surprising to some, but not to me. As I began to look back on my career in the visual arts which covers almost 50 years I notice some similarities. When I began as a photographer in the late 1950's I photographed at several locations in California where I made black and white images that had a certain composition about them that seemed as much about abstract organization as about the place where the pictures were taken. These locations were Point Lobos CA, Byron Hot Springs CA near Sacramento, and White Sands NM.

 

What I have noticed lately is that I still like these images greatly because, first, they have an abstract organization to them that continues to satisfy me even today. In particular the picture of a broken window at Byron Hot Springs may show a broken window but the real importance for me is the abstract organization of broken glass and mullions. It holds my attention because of the organization of shades of white, gray and black. At the same time it expresses a feeling of decay that I found at Byron, but this is only in addition to the patterns of shapes that I saw and photographed there.

 

In the early part of 2008 I started on a daily regimen that has proved most effective for me as an artist. I began to get up at 5 AM in the morning and sat down at my computer to make images. I used Photoshop and decided to explore the drawing tools in the program which I had not used very much previously. My intention was to create abstractions which had recently caught my attention through looking at contemporary abstract painting. Also I decided not to start with any imported photograph or scanned image, but to create everything fresh using just Photoshop drawing tools.

 

What happened was extraordinary. As I worked with Photoshop I began to find new ways to make shapes and textures. Then keeping them in layers I moved them around until I had a composition that felt right. Then I would frequently create overlays using selections of pixels in existing layers, add changes using blending tools, and sometimes use lighting filters. The experience was exhilarating and felt totally freeing. It seemed as if I could respond to what was in front of me instantaneously to add or modify arrangements to get something exciting and very new.

 

As i did this on a daily basis, each morning, I often was able to complete a work on the computer. It soon occurred to me that if I were making a computer piece a day that I could have more than 300 in a years time. Now since beginning this regimen I have not created that number of works during the last year but the total number is closer to 200, a real prolific outpouring. Some of these are more exciting than others to me and seem to have more to them, but what I find is that there is a never ending number of variations and surprises of what I can create.

 

At the same time another variation has appeared offering an expanded richness. Earlier I related how in 1985 I spent a brief period creating works using a simple program that featured pixels in 16 colors, and this became my source for several bodies of work. Now in 2008 I began to remember these images and regain that interest in pixels. I keep searching for those features that define digital imaging, that make it different from other media like painting, sculpture, and printmaking. It seems to me it is the pixel that defines digital imaging, that is the basic building block.

 

So I have undertaken to create new works, still abstract, that feature pixels. What I do is to take images that I have on my computer and zoom in on these to a pixel level in Photoshop. Then I grab a copy of this, enhance the squares of pixels, and begin to select groups of colors that become layers on top of the original grabbed image of pixels. Moreover what I also do is start by searching and grabbing images from the Internet of political or social personalities or events, zooming in and converting these into arrangements of pixels, and changing and enhancing these in numerous ways. I like and think it is important to make a connection to actual events or people because then the source of my works is contemporary history and culture. However in the end there is a translation into pixels and abstraction which takes it into another arena, that of abstract art.

 

Finally my exploration of abstraction continues as I experiment with new materials on which to print and push the boundaries of what I can do in the software. It seems that the possibilities are endless and grow daily.

 

New Photography but with differences. 2009.

 

What is so interesting for artists is that they often seem to come back to processes and imagery that they may have started many years earlier, but the return is marked by a new depth of understanding based upon all the intervening years of experience and exploration of new processes, materials and visions. This has been the case for me in the last few years where I have again picked up and photographed with a camera, only this time with a high end digital camera rather than a 35mm film camera. Also I have returned to making more traditional photographs of landscapes only this time in color and with a wide angle lens and processed and enhanced in Adobe Photoshop. New materials (digital cameras and software) are enabling me to achieve new kinds of presentation that were not available to me when I first started as a photographer in the late 1950's, but in addition I have discovered a new vision for presenting some of my images which I am calling "grand landscapes" because for me they encompass the grandeur of natural landscape.

 

I started my early career in art as a photographer in the late 1950's using a 35mm film camera and black and white film to create some of my first serious photography. Perhaps my first significant images were taken at Point Lobos along the California seacoast in the Carmel Bay area just below Monterey. Although my main interest there were the fantastic rock formations and textures some images were taken to show the wider seacoast where water meets the rocks.

 

However my first experience more focused on the wider landscape was at White Sands National Monument in White Sands New Mexico. There I pointed my camera to get a broader view of the landscape to show the shape and texture of the sand dunes, photographed in the late afternoon when the light and shadows were most dramatic.

 

Over the years I have returned to photographing with the camera at various times but usually not with the intention of creating so called "straight unaltered images". As I became more involved with the computer and digital imaging from 1985 on I found myself drawn more and more into the deconstruction and reconstruction of images. The single straight image was growing of less interest as I took to exploring how images could be sliced into pieces and montaged back together to create new statements and content. My intention has been to explore how digital processes and digitized imagery could be fashioned and refashioned to create works of art. To me it seemed like new territory for the artist to explore, having new tools to create works with. I have also focused on exploring and creating imagery that has it's own character different from any other media. Creating digital works that one might see as similar to painting, sculpture and printmaking has never been of interest to me.

 

Then in 2009, for the first time in quite a few years, I picked up a camera and went outdoors to take photographs. My first actual set of images, taken with a newly acquired medium wide angle lens and a Pentax DSLR came about while taking a fall vacation trip to Cape Cod at the National Seashore. It was simply a revelation for me and I began to see photographic possibilities that I had not seen before. Moreover it also included color and light and although both of these were not new to me I began to see how I could record and express these in a new way that was more extraordinary. It seemed as if I was seeing wide landscape scenes for the first time and knew intuitively how to put them together in a photographic image.

 

One source for my inspiration regarding the grand landscape has always been the paintings of the Hudson River School of artists such as Thomas Cole, Frederick Church, and John Kenett. There is on one hand a broad picturing of landscape from the foreground to background with sharp detail in all areas. There is also a quiet pastoral feeling combined with a special sense of atmosphere and light. These painters were after celebrating the beauty and special quality of the American landscape. In the back of my mind I carry the pictures of these images, the way in which these artists pictured the landscape, the way they bring in the viewer and involve them in the feeling of space and atmosphere.

 

Now one might say that Cape Cod is very special and it would be hard to not take amazing pictures there. Yes, on one hand it is unique but at the same time the images taken there can be just about anything and the real difference is the person conceiving of and taking the images. It is a matter of visualization. When I first started taking these pictures I did have the Hudson River School images in mind but I also was looking at the scenes with a new appreciation of landscape and feelings about how I wanted to picture it, not just like those painters but in my own special style and perception. Also in my mind was all the landscapes I had photographed over the years, how I had organized light and space and what atmosphere I had sought after.

 

After creating the Cape Cod images I had a clear vision of what I wanted for other landscape photographs. Since I live in upstate New York I turned my attention to local scenes and discovered to my surprise that there were all sorts of image possibilities that had never seen before to catch my attention. There is a special quality about farmland areas in the northeast US and I found I suddenly had new eyes to view what is around me. I have lived in the Ithaca area of upstate New York for over 30 years and suddenly I could see landscape image possibilities that I intuitively knew would work. This resulted in an expanded series of farmland scenes that represented my photography vision at that time.

 

And then the Photo World Changed For Me. 2012.

 

Creeping along behind the scenes has been a revolution in digital imaging which will transform photography and open up unimagined avenues of exploration for an artist. Like many others I started using a flip top cell phone starting about 2006 which served me primarily as a communication device. Then in 2009 I switched over to an Apple iPhone 3GS being a long time Apple computer user and because I was intrigued by their newest iPhone offering. I started enjoying the new features and also began to take pictures with it, something not available with my earlier phone. These pictures were intriguing but I had no real plan for them. They were mostly just a novelty.

 

Also In 2002 I got inspired to do giclee prints of my works. I concluded to do this and get high quality prints I needed a large format printer so I first purchased a top of the line 54" Colorspan printer and then later a 60" Canon large format printer, and recently a Canon 44 in. iPF 8300 printer. From there I started making prints not only for myself but for other artists and people which resulted in my establishing a giclee printing business which is still in operation and growing. At the beginning I started by printing images captured on high end DSLR cameras and some of these have been quite spectacular in color and detail. Also most of my clients seek me out because they want high quality giclee prints along with one-to-one service, and this is what I am able to offer. Most times one cannot get this personalized attention from the large volume print houses even though they may have lower prices.

 

Enter the New iPhone.

 

In 2012 I traded in my 3GS phone for the new iPhone 4S and then suddenly everything changed. I was blown away by the quality of the picture, the crispness of detail. I also experimented with printing these out on my wide format printer and was astounded by the results, getting superb prints all the way up to 24"x36". I realized that the technology is moving forward at a fast pace as well as toward miniaturization and that cell phones may just replace the DSLR in terms of quality. Moreover Since I always carry my phone with me at most times it means I can take a photo wherever I am. Using a DSLR I have to make it a point to carry my camera equipment with me and this is not always convenient or even possible. So suddenly the iPhone expands my possibilities for picture taking to places I might never have taken pictures before. And furthermore it has moved me towards taking pictures more quickly and spontaneously than ever before. Sometimes a spontaneous images can be quite exciting and say more about a place or event than something that is more carefully planned and executed.

 

And add to that, Here Come the APPS,

 

As time went by I have began to use my iPhone as my main picture capturing device and my high quality Nikon DSLR is getting a layer of dust from lack of use. But a little over two years ago I also became aware that there are a growing abundance of apps for the iPhone iOS and I started to purchase these from the Apple app store. Now the thing about these apps is that most are not very expensive, sometimes free, but often starting at $.99 cents and at other times costing $1.99 up to $3.99 for an app with more robust features. And what also became apparent to me is that the number and quality of available apps is growing at an enormous rate so my collection has grown to include nearly 70 apps, and the number continues to grow.

 

So what does this mean? Many of these apps have basic editing features that are quite good and I use them frequently on my phone or iPad to improve the quality of the images I capture. But also I have discovered and purchased apps that do some specialized actions that distort or colorize or add texture to a picture. Some like the 360 Panorama app convert a 360 degree image into a sphere and the Decim8 app re-translates the images into exciting and intriguing abstracts. Or another called Glitche offers a mind blowing array of translations into all sorts of partially or fully restructured  abstractions.  And there is even an Adobe Photoshop Express app for those experienced with the bigger desktop version of Photoshop and who just want some basic Photoshop editing features.

 

For me this has opened up a whole new avenue of exploration. As a photographer who on one hand started in the late 1950's with straight black and white photography I am always looking for interesting situations or events or places to capture images. But also my early training in art introduced me to abstract painting that was dominant then and still strong now in the art world. So my inclination has taken me toward the use the iPhone to capture straight photo images and then use some of newly available apps to take and translate these photo images into often unrecognizable abstract images. Sometimes a little hint of the source remains but often that gets translated into a totally non-representational work. Then I use other apps to add other layers of effects. I have always been partial to texture in a photo so I have an array of apps that create fascinating textures. Sometimes after capturing a photo I will process it through 4 to 8 apps totally changing and abstracting it into something completely different and unexpected. Part of the enjoyment of this process is discovering what totally new image is created.

 

Years ago i began photography because it fascinated me as an emerging art form. The thing is I always have been inclined towards exploring the leading edge in the world of art. Photography in the 1950's struck me that way.  And now the iPhone and apps have got my attention. Technology has upended both photography and the art world and It will be interesting to see where it goes and where I am led.

 

So is this the conclusion of my history as an artist? No, not until I am no longer around to continue it. And until then I will be adding new additions to this narrative as I will continue to explore art and being an artist and trying out new techniques and materials as these evolve.

 

Digital art is just beginning and digital technology will not only transform the way we live, is transforming how we live, but also will transform the way we have done things as artists by providing new techniques and possibilities for making art. And those artists who like to live out on the creative edge of art will be contributing to expanding the parameters of art and defining what it is and does in the future. And until I am gone that is where I want to be, out on that leading edge.

 

TO CONTINUE IN THE FUTURE.

 

 

 

Stan Bowman Digital And Fine Artist