Block title

Work Samples


2017, Unique Cyanotype, 10 .75” x 13.5”


2019, Unique Cyanotype, 10 .75” x 13.5”


2017, Unique Cyanotype, 10 .75” x 13.5”


2017, Unique Cyanotype, 10 .75” x 13.5”


About William

Baltimore City

William Knipscher is an artist whose work explores the themes of death, absence, impermanence and temporality. His work, richly conceptual, is expressed through a physical manipulation of photography that collapses the boundaries between technology and craft. Knipscher was born in Kensington, MD and grew up on the coast of New Jersey. He received his MFA in Photographic and Electronic Media from the Maryland Institute College of Art and received his BFA from the Corcoran College of Art and Design in... more

How To Photograph An Idea

The shapes are such that they are clearly revealed in light.
                                                -Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture
In the current age we are more than ever surrounded by the man made material form. These geometries appear over and again in architecture and the design of everyday objects: cube, sphere, cylinder, pyramid. The photographs presented here come from an evolving body of work that explores these shapes photographically through a semi-plastic process. They are shaped by hand and held in the sun until their latent geometry emerges.  Produced without the aid of a camera, they are at once something and nothing. Not the photograph of a cube, but perhaps the photograph of the geometry that signals the cube. Their literal message is unmistakable, but the range of possible attributable meanings is almost endless.

Where The Light Goes

Where the Light Goes started as an homage to the Japanese tradition of folding 1,000 cranes to heal a loved one, but soon became a way to discover how light interacts with a three-dimensional photosensitive object. For some time I’ve been folding silver gelatin photo paper into three-dimensional forms and exposing these forms under light and then unfolding and processing them as flat prints. The unfolded prints record this indexical act of the path of light, reflecting and refracting, revealing the imperfections of my handiwork. Many of the prints in the Carnegie exhibition are enlarged cropped portions of the freeform folds I made in the darkroom.

The closet in the room contains origami cranes folded from unprocessed, silver gelatin photo paper. The closet becomes an exposure unit that is activated by the viewer when they open the closet door. The viewer becomes an active participant in the work. The catch is that their action is not readily apparent and can only be seen through repeated visits as the exposure process is inherently slow. This isn’t to say that the onetime viewer receives no pleasure, but time spent with the work is rewarded by repeated visits.

The commissioned piece for the Carnegie is an enlargement, approx. 50”x60”, of a small 8”x10” cyanotype. This piece was created with the idea of folding and exposing a piece of coated paper to replicate the experience of a three-dimensional space. My cyanotype work is similar to my folded silver gelatin work but differs in that I expose this work in the sun for minutes rather than seconds. Something I’ve been exploring with my cyanotype work is to create what look like photographic records of 3- dimensional solids such as cubes and pyramids which are in fact created solely through folding and selective exposure to the sun. Through this work I find myself interrogating, somewhat playfully, the nature of the photographic image, a vein that runs through much of my work.

The fundamental tendency of light to diffract around the edge of a surface is what makes these prints possible. It is something I explore with the freeform folding and bending of paper. Causing light to move through and around photosensitive material, I allow the medium to perform two roles as disrupter and recorder of light. In all these works of diffraction and folding there is an element of psychology as well, insofar as the resulting images assume an almost Rorschach aspect. What is it in the simple study of light, shadow and line that allows space for contemplation?

  • wtlg_cc_005

    2015, pigment print(from silver gelatin origianl), 20”x24”
  • wtlg_ff_42015004

    2015, pigment print(from silver gelatin original, 20”x24”
  • wtlg_ff_03

    2015, pigment print(from silver gelatin original), 20”x24”
  • wtlg_ff_51615001

    2015, pigment print(from silver gelatin original), 20”x24”

Can't Remember, Can't Forget

I believe that photographs inherently hold the false hope of permanent memory. People seem to make photographs in order to document a particular moment, assuming that the image or the story behind it will become endlessly accessible. Photographs, however, can degrade physically over time just as our mental ability to recall the stories associated with them can diminish. For the latter reason, even a digital photograph will lose its permanence over time. Neuroscience finds that the more times we access a memory, the more we forget it, and the more altered or false it becomes in subsequent recollections.

In order to play out this paradox, my work deals with images that are impermanent to begin with and undergoing a process of degradation from the moment of their installation. Lumen prints–made with unfixed black and white photo paper–of people I’ve photographed over the years hung floor to ceiling will darken and gradually fade as the sun and gallery lights illuminate them. Unbound anthotype prints–an unfixable photographic process using vegetable pigment–laid in a clamshell box contain unattributed quotes from scholars and philosophers of memory that can be freely handled and rearranged by the viewer. Lastly video that has been degraded through projecting and rerecording footage of nature is looped continuously.

I am fascinated by the power of light to create an image, and also destroy it. We measure lights effects on images and talk of permanence. In the end, images like our bodies and our memories have a finite life.

"Then (39°18'32.45"N, 76°37'18.87"W)" and "Today (and every day till then)"

"Today (and every day till then)" is a watermark in handmade paper. This piece began as a photograph of my coffee mug's shadow. As a watermark the image becomes exaggeratedly latent because it can only be seen when illuminated from behind. I emphasize the corporeality of the object, through the addition of a coffee ring imposed on the watermark.

"Then (39°18'32.45"N, 76°37'18.87"W)" is more removed from the strictly corporeal, focusing instead on the movement of the cosmos and considering our small actions as humans in contrast with larger astronomical movements. The piece is chalk dust on a slate blackboard. It represents the alignment of stars when considered from the vantage point of a specific geographic location at the moment of my projected death, based on numerous online life expectancy calculators. In thinking about the movement of the stars over the course of a lifetime, one is at once made to feel the comparative brevity and impermanence of human life, and also the cyclic endurance of the natural world.


What at first appear to be solid black squares are actually lines of text that have been blacked out, line by line, using a large Sharpie marker. The series originates from one work which repeats only the phrase ?sometimes I want to disappear.? In this instance the blacking out process is literally a disappearing of the text, as well as a way of emphasizing the sentiment behind it. As a continuation of this concept, I allow published texts about the disappearance of languages to be graffitied on by viewers. It is hard to say how much of the text is decisively edited, or whether the irony of contributing to the degradation of language is lost on the participants, and in the end it is my hand that revises their attempts at communication through the text. My final redaction reduces each piece of prose down to its most essential phrases and mitigates the presence of interference with the text. In this way I draw a parallel between the extinction of world languages as they fall out of use, and the threat posed to our own by increasingly brief forms of communication.

The Children

My mother's death left me reflecting on the inadequacy of photographs, and their inability to function as accurate records of a person. Photography falls short of forms like painting or sculpture because it lacks surface. And though techniques exist to give the appearance of texture, surface in photography is still just a very clean mirror, not significant in itself, but for what it shows us.

The three portraits presented, two of my siblings and one of me, are rubbings of photographs. They explore the capacity of photo-representation to enter the realm of physical presence. By printing the portraits on sensitized polymer plates, I translate the photographs into raised images, like sculptures in relief.  Each rubbing becomes a unique event since the rubbing process cannot entirely be controlled.

These images are a portrait of my mother.  Each a part of the whole.  The remains of her physical presence and the containers of everything intangible about her.

  • The Children (Will)

    4' x 5', photographic rubbings, paper, beeswax crayon, wood, nails
  • The Children (Katie)

    4' x 5', photographic rubbings, paper, beeswax crayon, wood, nails
  • The Children (Luke)

    4' x 5', photographic rubbings, paper, beeswax crayon, wood, nails
  • The Children

    installation view each 4' x 5', photographic rubbings, paper, beeswax crayon, wood, nails

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William's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.