Every life should span a divide. Successful crossing fosters respect for the past, perspective on the future, and appreciation of the present. It also requires the retention of basic values. So affirms David Bartlett, reflecting on the continuity of his accomplishments with both traditional photographic technologies - film and photogravure - and revolutionary digital imaging as well as on the parallel unex-pected course of his academic career which began as an Instructor imparting a stable body of knowledge and culminated as a Professor at Morehead State University collaborating with students to keep up with ever abounding possibil-ities.
Bartlett's formative adult years were indicative of a temperament both reflective and creative as well as adventuresome. After majoring in Philosophy at Carleton College he served in the Peace Corps teaching English on Ulithi Atoll in Micro-nesia. Upon return to America, he earned a Master's Degree in Philosophy from Yale University and then his MFA from the University of Michigan School of Art.
Bartlett's initial practice of black-and-white large format, zone system film photography was informed by appreciation of the straight, fine print tradition adherents of which strive for careful control of the photographic process leading to detailed, unmanipulated prints that have an explicitly photographic character and which also express the unique sensibility of the photographer.
While continuing to make large silver gelatin prints, Bartlett then mastered photogravure, a revived alternative process which unites the virtues of photo-graphy and intaglio printmaking, combining the ethereal visual transparency of the photograph, its connection to the absent recorded world, with the mysterious tactile earthiness of the present physical object.
Bartlett has enthusiastically embraced digital technology including - somewhat to his own surprise - its capacity to record, control, and produce color. Regardless of color mode, however, he has retained his attention to detail and his basic commitment to the well-crafted unmanipulated image. He considers inkjet printing, as gravure, a form of printmaking and uses only fine art matte papers.
While he would not label himself a travel photographer, Bartlett has made many excursions throughout the United States and abroad to photograph, usually to the end of the line. Destinations have included Maine, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Upper Michigan, Colorado, Alaska, China, and Iceland.
The quality of Bartlett's work has been recognized by numerous respected pro-fessionals. He has exhibited in several hundred national and regional juried and invitational shows and has received more than fifty juried exhibition awards. He is one of only several artists to have received two prestigious Al Smith Fellowships from the Kentucky Council on the Arts. He is also a recipient of Morehead State University's Creative Production Award.
Though Bartlett has recently left academic responsiblities behind, he does not see retirement from photography as an option. Whether it is a layer of silver grains miraculously materializing in a tray of Dektol, an intaglio print breathlessly lifted from a copper plate, an array of light-emitting pixels popping up on a display, or a dot-laden sheet creeping from a printer, David Bartlett is as full of anticipation as ever.
I hadn't really been a practicing artist
Meaning and philosophy
Just about anything could be a proper photographic subject