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Renaissance.

Photographs by Bill Armstrong. Introduction by W.M. Hunt
CLAMP ART, New York, 2008. 54 pp., 17 color illustrations, 8½x11".



Publisher's Description
Renaissance is a portfolio of photographs in the ongoing Infinity series, an extensive body of work I have been photographing since 1997. Renaissance is made using my unique process of photographing found images extremely out of focus, with the lens set at infinity. In this case, the source materials are reworked master drawings, mostly from the Renaissance, but some from other periods. The many layered process of reproduction and blurring, appropriating an image and subjecting it to a series of manipulations (photocopying, cutting, painting, re-photographing) transforms the original images, giving them a new meaning in a new context-a renaissance of the Renaissance, if you will.

The original drawings were attempts to capture the human figure in a specific action, either from Biblical, mythological or historical scenes, but the rough sketches were removed from the milieu of the larger whole. My process accentuates that extraction, removing them further from their context and adding a new psychology of color to the achromatic drawings. Extreme blurring erases features, dissolves identity and obscures individuality, while retaining the essence of the original gesture, so that a 15th century religious figure can have secular relevance today.

The themes of the images in Renaissance move in opposing directions. Some of the figures seem to be ascending-flying, floating, or otherwise suspended in ether-and represent man's aspirations toward freedom. Or, conversely, they may seem to be falling, or doomed, as the crucifixes and divers become oddly interchangeable. Others are bound, bent, tethered or twisted and appear to be struggling against the frame, representing the limits and agonies of the human condition. At the same time, the photographs may be seen as motion studies of dancers or athletes, reminiscent of Isadora Duncan's search for a Hellenic ideal, ironically fluid and active for reproductions of action frozen.

I spent a year in Italy in the late 1970's, so working with Renaissance imagery has allowed me to return, in spirit, to a favorite time and place. These images are meant to be meditative pieces (like all the work in the Infinity series) transporting the viewer to another world, human-centered like the civic humanist ideals of the 15th century, but ethereal and luminous-an exaltation of the spirit.

View Bill Armstrong's other title Apparition.

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