Fred Rowley

Fred Rowley

Both sides of my family harbored artists in their closets. So I suppose it seemed logical for my folks to enroll me in art school at a young age. In high school, I majored in Advertising, Graphics Arts and Photography. I studied more photography for a year at Rochester Institute of Technology.

In my first real job, I was a B&W production printer in an industrial darkroom. I was soon promoted to the Motion Picture Department as an apprentice film editor/cameraman. My employer was Bell Aircraft, maker of supersonic rocket X-planes, helicopters, VTOL and the like. Military service being compulsory, I was soon assigned as a film editor to the Army Pictorial Center in Long Island City, NY. I was one of five G.I. editors amidst twenty civilian editors. APC was a major-studio sized enterprise, operating around the largest sound stage on the East Coast; needless to say an enlightening experience.

In 1961, I went to work as a filmmaker for Bell Telephone Laboratories in New York City. Our group made many college-level science films concerning aspects of Bell Labs’ expertise. One of my titles documented the invention of the Transistor as told by Dr. Walter Brattain, and for which he and two other Bell Labs scientist-colleagues had been awarded the Nobel Prize.

I later established a Motion Picture Services business in New York City specializing in educational films. Things went smoothly for twenty years – lots of variety, travel and location work. Three titles which I made in France for the Walden Films Series “French Village Life”, were shown in screenings at the MOMA in New York. I later became the producer of a popular number of filmstrips for Greystone Films, including “The Do-it-Yourself Poetry Kit”, and “Basics: Photography” “The Black and White Kit” and “The Color Kit”.

By 1998, 16mm films had faded away and I was working in electronic publishing, CD-ROMs and databases. Database-driven Web applications development then became my main occupation. For nine years, I developed, assisted with, and managed websites for many class-A clients including Clairol, Rocawear, theglobe.com and Moneyline-Telerate (Reuters).

In the end, Photography was only an indirect part of my career, but once in your blood, it of course, prevails. My wife and I retired in 2007 to the Finger Lakes District of Upstate New York, where we lately seem to shovel lots of snow and I make my pictures in earnest.

Artist’s Statement

My work is done in the spirit of digital possibilities. I think the keyword that best applies is “experimental”. I begin with a film or digital image. My compositions then become computer-made. All the work so far, is done by me, by hand, with my own keying and mouse clicking. No algorithms or fractal manipulations, nor automatic, macro-driven applications- “Nothing Artificial” so to speak, except for my manual re-builds, distortions and restatements. Perhaps it is image engineering at its core. But every composition I complete is a test of my art and my personal judgment.

Why do I subscribe to digital? Traditional photography is a venerable technology with a grand history of pictorialism and visual innovation. I certainly could find a warm feeling if I were to take out my old focusing cloth, revisit a darkroom, and tryout again my trusty dodging and burning skills. But I do not long to feel again the silky warmth upon my fingers of real soup. Nor do I ever want to do again, any legacy sepia toning.

I have always been a new-methods-fellow, working in a constantly updated photography. Do I ever long to go back to the older traditions? Sometimes I do. But there is always that seductive road ahead. I need to see what new possibilities are out there, just over that next hill and near the horizon.

By | 2017-01-02T14:13:12+00:00 January 2nd, 2017|Comments Off on Fred Rowley