Interview with Bill Armstrong
Beginning with scraps of paper and found imagery, Bill Armstrong created colorful collages which he then photographs with the focus ring on his camera lens placed on infinity. The resultant images are a wonderful hybrid of media (collage and photography) that seamlessly meld original and found imagery, while teasing the boundary between representation and abstraction.
Unifying a broad range of diverse imagery, a common theme of Armstrong’s Infinity series is to depict photographically the idea of the spirit – - often regarded at something unable to be seen. Drawing from a variety of belief systems from around the globe, the artist’s groupings reference a range of sources – - from Western ideas of the celestial or heavenly and common notions of ghosts and apparitions, to African concepts of “evil spirits” and Eastern mandalas and Buddha.
Signature: Signed, titled, dated, and numbered, verso
Fascinated by the profound effect that color can have on perception and emotions, Bill Armstrong produces lush, semi-abstract, semi-figurative photographs. Working in series, he makes his photographs by taking intentionally blurred photographs of other photographs. For example, for his “Infinity” series, begun in 1997, Armstrong gathers existing photographs—of Roman sculpture, Old Master drawings, or film stills—and alters them in various ways, including cutting them apart or painting over them. He then sets his camera’s lens to “infinity”, an extremely out-of-focus range, and photographs these manipulated images. Explaining his process and its results, he writes: “Extreme de-focusing enables me to blend and distill hues, creating rhapsodies of color that are meditative pieces—glimpses into a space of pure color, beyond our focus, beyond our ken.”
American, b. 1952, based in New York, New York