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Photographer of Interest - Selected by Editor: Editor's Choice: The Rich "Film Noir" Photography Of Bill Armstrong

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
The curators at Clamp Art in New York City are worthy of visiting when you get to town or manage to make it to one of the many USA art shows they participate in. I've followed them for a number of years and they continue to impress me with their original and unique choice for their stable of supported photographers.

Bill Armstrong, to me at least is like having some of Bressson's fleeting B&W images of Paris streets on steroids. The pictures are inspired by the Film Noir era and are remarkable for rich colors and in defined boundaries. This is an important part of the best of where photography has gone and can reach. So Bill Armstrong is now our "Photographer of the Week"!



© Bill Armstrong: Untitled

(Film Noir #1405)" 2011,

Courtesy of ClampArt,

New York City

Visit the Clamp Art website and browse through the other pictures in this series. for those who can invest, the prices are as follows:

We often try to figure out what art photography might be worth in the best of times. Well, here's a small sampling. These prices are considered "market rate" as the Clamp art Gallery is a longstanding and thriving, respected gallery with many devout followers and has earned its reputation, one selected image at a time. Images from the limited edition series are available for sale in three sizes

48 x 40 inches
(Edition of 5)
$8000.00

36 x 30 inches
(Edition of 5)
$4500.00

24 x 20 inches
(Edition of 10)
$2200.00



But at the very least you can enjoy this photographer's works and I hope it will help to challenge folk to accept their own quirky ways of pushing boundaries according to their vision and not based just on what a fine lens can get into focus. One can see here the value of not defining everything and letting us, instead feel the gestures and motion of the subject, almost floating in a surreal world. This, I believe is how we really see others that pass in a fraction of a second. We just take in enough to know there's no danger or loss of some rare opportunity. Bill Armstrong freezes and expresses these transient moments and allows us to bring a fresh interpretation to his work, each time we visit!

To me, this shows confidence that there's enough essential vitality in these uncertain forms to withstand the different experiences and critique we might each bring to the pictures.

Bravo for vision and the ability to deliver it in rich color and pleasant form!

Please visit the website and pick your own favorite and give you take on these images and similar work this brings to mind.

Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief


So here's an example of the transience that Henri Bresson captured occasionally, and this is what I see in some of Bill Armstrong's rich images.

Asher
 

Jerome Marot

Well-known member
From the Clamp Art website:

Film Noir is made from appropriated images taken from a variety of sources—advertising, stock material, landscape painting—which are then collaged and re-photographed out of focus as Armstrong subverts the photographic process, setting his lens at infinity (normally used for distance) and then shooting close up.

Nobody here has a problem with "appropriated images"?
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
From the Clamp Art website:

Film Noir is made from appropriated images taken from a variety of sources—advertising, stock material, landscape painting—which are then collaged and re-photographed out of focus as Armstrong subverts the photographic process, setting his lens at infinity (normally used for distance) and then shooting close up.

Nobody here has a problem with "appropriated images"?

Jerome,

I'm happy you raised this point. So, yes, there are at least two parts of a kiss, the pleasure and the permission!

If one doesn't have ownership of one's own face, for folk to photograph, (at least in the streets of the USA), then one can see how some "creatives" might feel empowered and free to copy "mere" photographs, even without permission! Young folk seem to be quite accustomed to freely duplicating videos and pirating software with cracked licenses. We, however hold deep respect the creative rights of artists and can get quite uncomfortable if we see exploitation without obtaining license. So let's look at the terminology used here.

  • To "appropriate" implies to "Take (something) for one's own use, typically without the owner's permission" (from Wikipedia). That, however, may not necessarilly be illegal.

  • To "purloin" implies that the appropriation is indeed, illegal!
So "appropriation" might be viewed differently according to the source of the work and the application. When Nestlé, decades ago, was said to have used someone's photography for a product label without permission, that was an illegal commercial use and they were, according to the reports at the time, found liable for damages.

Charlotte Thompson makes layered and out of focus images with other folks original photographs, here, all in the public domain. So it all depends. One can legally use stock material which requires a fee for the license. Some older paintings are beyond copyright law. Advertisements are part of the public landscape and if photographed from the street as part of a new composition have been permitted to be done freely. One can't copy the exact idea of someone else's photograph in some circumstances. The law can be complex.

I do not condone the use of other folk's work without permission. I have assumed that "appropriated", for Bill Armstorng's work meant, as Charlotte's case, doing things in a legal way. In the end, can the newly created but derived art itself count in favor of the artist? In this case, it seems to be "Yes!".

However, if I saw the originals and found that the experience was substantially the same and that gesture and colors really did most of the esthetic hauling, then I'd think differently. Right now, I'm looking at the end result and the fact that it's enjoyable and worth collecting.

Asher
 
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