Interview with Bill Armstrong
“Film Noir” revisits the themes of the classic black-and-white films of the 40s and 50s, but with the lush, saturated colors for which Bill Armstrong is known. The solitary figures contemplating the unknown reference the ethical and philosophical dilemmas laid out in those stories. Armstrong’s mysterious images remain unresolved, however, hinting at the increased uncertainties of the contemporary viewpoint.
Like the other portfolios in his “Infinity” series, the photographs are made from appropriated images taken from a variety of sources—advertising, stock photographs, landscape painting—which are then collaged and rephotographed out of focus as Armstrong subverts the photographic process, setting his lens at infinity (normally used for distance) and then shooting close up.
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