(From the Introduction to AIRPLAYERS)
Interface, Hyperspace, Social Grace:
Armstrong's Techno-Morphology of Perception

For the benefit of those who now find themselves in the incorporeal anatomy of fallen shadows, rippling echoscapes and consuming sensory tidewaters printed and bound within this most unusual and inexplicable of books, with no prior knowledge of Sara Garden Armstrong's art, it seems that the first and most important thing you should be told is that this book is neither intended to be, nor in any way serves as, a comprehensive, precise documentation, explanation or description of Armstrong's oeuvre. In her enigmatically composed installations, time is an essential dimension, and transformation, or movement, is a primary language of expression that is impossible to properly translate into the usual static form of a photographic record. Time, space, evolution, and repetition constitute irreplaceable physical and psychological forces that Armstrong cannot casually ignore or omit. Representing her kinetic sound sculptures on the printed page was a task she contended with as a mechanical challenge of execution as well as an aesthetic issue of simulation inherent to the two-dimensional book medium.

To describe an art that is essentially experimental, to explain a dynamic that is ultimately beyond words, to definitively locate a viewpoint that is ambiguous, multiple, elusive, sensate and ambivalent, Armstrong hasn't given us an easy picture of physical or behavioral characteristics specific to her art, but has rather served a lyrical impression of the kind of rapturous disorientation one often experiences within the charged primal spaces of her compositions. The end result of this particular project then-what you now have before you-is not an art book in the ordinary sense (a linear, straight-forward textual and pictorial guidebook presentation of Armstrong's art to date), but an "art book" in the extraordinary sense: a book that isn't so much about art as it is a work of art in and of itself.

Peculiarity, a strangeness that seems evident throughout all of Armstrong's art, be it in her distinctive voice or unusual choice of materials, is an aspect that her audience must become acclimated to. Being different, either in the avant-garde tradition of expanded boundaries or in the more personal sense of individual idiosyncrasies, is not what it's all about. Quite to the contrary, in fact, Armstrong invites a deeper level of trans personal identification that is very much predicated upon an archetypally symbolic identification between the viewer and the art. Thus, for all our natural suspiciousness and resistance towards any contemporary art that irreverently exists outside the traditional fine art mediums, eventually there comes a point in our appreciation of Armstrong's light/sound/ painting/sculptures when all the novelty vanishes and they seem wholly natural, real and logical.

Significant to Armstrong's maturation as an artist has been the full realization she's come to about her own buried regions of personal implication. Central to this has been the counter- impulse to keep all of her work within an imaginary plane of intuition and innuendo. Her art doesn't explain itself, for, in the act of telling us outright where she's coming from and where she's headed, would be lost all the mystery and seductive power that comes from what she's left unsaid, covered up in modesty, or teasingly suggested only in glimpses of shadowy outline. Not knowing doesn't mean the same thing at all as being unaware in the iron lungs and tenderloins of Armstrong's biomorphs. To join this artist in her epic wandering is to follow the trail of possible answers she has found, but never taken. A sum of all the paths she's ever beaten, those installations are the avenues found only by staying lost, those that go both ways and crisscross over party lines of artists who pursue but a single direction. Perpetually driving on to whatever's next, this artist searches not as those who have missed some sign along the way may come to retrace the span of oversight, but as one whose hypersensitivity picks up the sub-signs of another way, the out of the way, and the in the way.

Carlo McCormick

© 2021 Sara Garden Armstrong