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This photograph is from Film Noir, the newest iteration of Armstrong’s Infinity series, an ongoing project that he has worked on for more than fifteen years. The work revisits the classic film-noir themes of loneliness, alienation, and the existentialist dilemma with the lush, saturated colors the artist is known for. Solitary figures contemplating the unknown reference the ethical and philosophical dilemmas laid out in the stories and films of the 1940s and ’50s.

As Armstrong notes in an interview about this series, “I’m always trying to bite into the big themes: death, love, redemption, freedom, spirituality. I don’t have the exact quote, but artist Jack Pierson once said something like, ‘If it’s not about lonely, it’s not art.’ Even though that’s apocryphal, I think the fact that we are alone is a major theme today, as much as faith and hope were in the Renaissance, or mortality was to the Romans. In a way I see all these themes as asking the same question. What is the meaning of it all? Does it matter what we do?”

To make these works, Armstrong photographs handmade collages of printed source material with his camera’s focus ring set to infinity. He continues: “In many ways my work is about perception, how we try to resolve images but can’t, and how in that moment of confusion, when we are unsure of what we are seeing, the rational mind is derailed and we are freed to respond on a more subconscious level.”

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