ARTIST SERIES

Bill Armstrong, Untitled (Unfixed #1603)
Untitled (Unfixed #1603)
Bill Armstrong, Untitled (Unfixed #1647)
Untitled (Unfixed #1647)
Bill Armstrong, Untitled (Unfixed #1607)
Untitled (Unfixed #1607)
Bill Armstrong, Untitled (Unfixed #1629)
Untitled (Unfixed #1629)
Bill Armstrong, Untitled (Unfixed #1632)
Untitled (Unfixed #1632)
Bill Armstrong, Untitled (Unfixed #1604)
Untitled (Unfixed #1604)
Bill Armstrong, Untitled (Unfixed #1649)
Untitled (Unfixed #1649)
Bill Armstrong, Untitled (Unfixed #1600)
Untitled (Unfixed #1600)
Bill Armstrong, Untitled (Unfixed #1648)
Untitled (Unfixed #1648)
Bill Armstrong, Untitled (Unfixed #1613)
Untitled (Unfixed #1613)
Bill Armstrong, Untitled (Unfixed #1626)
Untitled (Unfixed #1626)
Bill Armstrong, Untitled (Unfixed #1642)
Untitled (Unfixed #1642)
Bill Armstrong, Untitled (Unfixed #1634)
Untitled (Unfixed #1634)
Bill Armstrong, Untitled (Unfixed #1633)
Untitled (Unfixed #1633)
Bill Armstrong, Untitled (Unfixed #1630)
Untitled (Unfixed #1630)
Bill Armstrong, Untitled (Unfixed #1602)
Untitled (Unfixed #1602)
Bill Armstrong, Untitled (Unfixed #1641)
Untitled (Unfixed #1641)
Bill Armstrong, Untitled (Unfixed #1608)
Untitled (Unfixed #1608)
Bill Armstrong, Untitled (Unfixed #1606)
Untitled (Unfixed #1606)
Bill Armstrong, Untitled (Unfixed #1622)
Untitled (Unfixed #1622)
Bill Armstrong, Untitled (Unfixed #1610)
Untitled (Unfixed #1610)
Bill Armstrong, Untitled (Unfixed #1631)
Untitled (Unfixed #1631)
Bill Armstrong, Untitled (Unfixed #1628)
Untitled (Unfixed #1628)
Bill Armstrong, Untitled (Unfixed #1614)
Untitled (Unfixed #1614)

While previous portfolios in the Infinity series used blur as a tool for optical distortion, Unfixed uses exposure to create time-based distortion. Each image is a single exposure made in camera without digital manipulation. The effect is rendered by shooting long exposures with an untethered— or “unfixed”— camera, taking advantage of camera shake. Manipulating shutter speed allows me to use the lens as a paintbrush rather than as a representational tool and create multiple viewpoints, vibrating or fractured images, and double or triple visions, within a single frame.

Like all the work in the Infinity series, the images in Unfixed are not taken from the real world, as they may appear, but are made by re-photographing appropriated images of Italian architecture. This in-camera layering process is a metaphor for the multi-layered experience of history one has when visiting Italy, a place where ancient, Renaissance and contemporary architecture are stacked. The long exposures are also a metaphor for the passage of time as they “unfix” the stones of the Renaissance, making what we think of as permanent, variable, and pointing to the uncertainty of recollection and the shifting revisions of history.

Unfixed is also a tongue-in-cheek reference to photographic fixer, a mix of chemicals used in a traditional darkroom. The fixer stabilizes the image, making it insensitive to further action by light, fixing it in time. These inkjet prints are not made in a traditional black and white darkroom; in fact, the images are in color, although the colors are subtle. They are shot in a combination of daylight and tungsten light in keeping with my loose process, and the changes in tone and color are often lucky accidents created by the play of light at different times of day.

The photographs in Unfixed sometimes look like drawings, sketches in pen and ink or charcoal, where the repetition of lines mark the hurried, insecure or uncertain efforts of a draftsman, giving a fugitive and ephemeral feeling to these heavy, immutable buildings. The dematerialized figures may be ghosts of the Renaissance, or they may contemporary figures investigating the past, or perhaps the doubling process allows them to be both at the same time. In the words of Bob Dylan, “The streets of Rome are filled with rubble, ancient footprints are everywhere. You can almost think that you’re seein’ double, on a cold, dark night on the Spanish Stairs. Got to hurry on back to my hotel room, where I’ve got me a date with Botticelli’s niece. She promised that she’d be right there with me, when I paint my masterpiece.”

Work by Bill Armstrong