David Thomas Smith is a visual artist, who specialises in Post- Photographic Processes. David’s work has been exhibited in a number of diverse locations around the world from the Gaîté Lyrique in Paris to the Hyundai Motor Studio in Beijing.
In 2017 David was nominated for one of photography’s most prestigious awards The Prix Pictet.
David’s work has also appeared in a variety of publications from Esquire, Russia to Wired in the United States and anthologies such as Robert Shore's: Post Photography - The Artist with a Camera.
“My interest first and foremost is not necessarily with my subject matter but the medium itself. A medium unlike any other. An alchemy of shadows.
One with the power to capture, record and fossilise every aspect of our existence and perhaps more worryingly with the power to project back out into the world. It creates ripples in our day-to-day lives that are almost imperceptible and waves, which can turn the world upside down.
It’s from this place and fascination that my subject matters come. Viewing the world through this newfound lens; in ways that would have been previously unimaginable. Humanity as hive, the overview of our lives. The camera is no longer just a dark wooden box. It is an algorithmic hydra of lenses and screens connected by never ending fibre optic tentacles, perforating every aspect of our society. Endlessly harvesting, depositing and regurgitating images back to us.
Being able to stare into this torrent of images that only flows more furiously by the day is what drives my practice. An experience that is simultaneously exhilarating and frightening.”
- David Thomas Smith
Google Maps in all its forms has become not just a source of information for wary travellers, but perhaps unexpectedly for its creators, this world of Jpegs has become a treasure trove of material for a great variety of artists. Yet of this great variety the work of David Thomas Smith stands apart. Using his own personally developed methods Smith has turned these tiny grainy Jpegs into High Definition physicality. Not just concerned with creating a beautiful aesthetic, Smith pushes us into a more profound metaphysical plane.
It is primarily a concern with instances that predominates in the work of David Thomas Smith. The artist’s weighty comments on civilisation and capitalism fuse with subtle articulations on the history and state of photography: indeed, one can begin to observe in works such as Anthropocene and Arecibo, the evolution of humanity mirrored in the progression of photography.
Smith is an artist who has recognised these parallels and using an increasingly available archive of imagery from the stores of Google Maps, has created work that speaks in cryptic, multifaceted compositions.
In Anthropocene, Smith skilfully weaves thousand of digital jpeg files harvested from Google Maps imagery, to create kaleidoscopic rugs of capitalism. Multiple images are inverted, rotated and stitched together to form intricately detailed compositions of specific sites of global capitalism. Connecting each individual montage is a carefully considered conceptual thread, an aesthetic of absolute symmetry and a stately palate of colour that alludes to the historical foundations of our most recent societal position.
Exhibited as both prints and light-boxes Smith captures the viewer in his hypnotic prophecy, wherein, like the depictions immortalised within stained glass windows, fact and fiction begin to blur and appear ominously close to our present day actuality. Taking influence from the narrative carpets of the Afghan and Persian custom, Smith creates elaborate possibilities that stand as a collaboration between age-old tradition, and an increasingly indistinguishable global image of capitalism.
Placing questions of economic reality, capitalist ambition and photographic truth at the heart of Anthropocene, Smith’s pictures appear as vast tableaux that are layered in meaning and dense in visual intrigue. These are the abstract tapestries that tell the story of our day: a binary image that transcends the face of the human to explore the metaphysics of a genus.
Continuing in the vast tableau style of Anthropocene, Smith’s project Arecibo invites the viewer to attend to the role of metaphorical archaeologist. Resembling the ever- searching archaeologist, the spectator is drawn into an obscured composition of humanity hidden behind knots of colour and form, waiting to be meticulously unearthed, and slowly understood. Through excavations of fallout colours from the creation of Google Maps, the viewer begins to unravel complex patterns composed of thousands of jpeg images; each composite whole, punctuating a crucial moment in the history of humanity.
These extensive, seemingly abstract images commence from the very beginning of human existence, and progress to our relative present where we now find ourselves absorbed in Smith’s forward-looking images of the past.
We see in the first image a section of the ‘Arecibo’ message (a message broadcast into space in 1974) obstructing the estimated site of the origin of man. Through this translucent message we distinguish a vast, fertile plain somewhere on the border between Namibia and Angola; it is a land strewn with lakes, tracks and rivers that emanates with the rich glow of birth. From the lush land of the origin of our race to the burning sands of Mesopotamia and the Islamic golden age, through to a black and white composite image of the surface of the moon entitled Information Age. Smith meanders his way through humanity’s most central instances with tapestries of civilisation and its milestones, leaving the viewer with a sense of scale, awe and an anxiety of a future yet to come.
In all this, Smith is attempting to make sense of the continually expanding photographic archive of humanity. Rich in information and aesthetic absorption, Smith obscures and layers, subverts and removes. He is part of this latest chapter of human history, and from a position very much within the sites he is observing, creates ruptures of visual information that resist photographic categorisation. Smith’s images stand as continually evolving human achievements that both interrogate and celebrate equally; they are the contemporary mosaics of humanity, laced with the artist’s incredulous message.
- Christopher Thomas
•'Arecibo' - PhotoIreland Festival, The Copper House Gallery, 2nd - 13th July 2019
•'Arecibo' - Cork Photo Festival, The Atrium, Cork City Hall, 6th - 27th April 2018
• ‘Sustainable Futures’, Sirius Arts Centre, Cork, Februrary 2018
•Halftone, Library Project, Dublin, 2nd - 19th November 2017
• ‘Nucleus’ Noorderlicht Photography Festival, Netherlands Oct 2017
• ‘Social Mobility’ Hyundai Motor Studio, Beijing September, 2017
• aéroports/ville-monde, Gaite Lyrique, Paris, France 23rd February 21st May 2017
• Spacearth, LABottega, Pietra Santa, Italy, 1st April -14th May 2017
• New Irish Works IX, Library Project, Dublin May 2017
• New Irish Works, Espace Lhomond, Paris, France 11-13 November 2016
• WWF International: Living Planet Report, Imapct Hub, Geneva, Switzerland. 27th October 2016
• Terminal P, Montpellier, France, 18th June - 28th August 2016
• New Irish Works, düo, Paris, France, 15th - 24th November 2013
• Irish Showcase, Irish Embassy, London, UK 10th July 2013
• New Irish Works, Tactic, Cork, Ireland 6-27 July 2013
• 'Anthropocene' The Copper House Gallery, Dublin (Solo)
• 100 Years of Photography at Newport, Newport, UK 29th Oct - 11th Jan 2013
• Prix Pictet Nominee 2017
• UWN Academic Enhancement Bursary
• Canal+ L'Oeil de Links
• Swiss Radio Couleur 3
• RTE 2XM Culture Cafe
•The Sunday Times: MODE Magazine
•Junior 3: Empathy
• Anthropocene Feminism
• Regards Sur Le Monde: Apprendre Avec et Par L'Image Á L'École
• Exposed: Environmental Politic and Pleasures in Post Human Times
• New Irish Works 2
• WWF Magazine
• Post Photography: The Artist with a Camera
• IMA: Living with Photography (Japan)
• Die Zeit: Zeit Wissen
• Interni Magazine
• American Photo
• New Irish Works 1
• Canadian Geographic
• Business Insider
• The Huffington Post
• Fast Company
• la Repubblica
• Wired Magazine
• Lens Culture
• Esquire Magazine
• The Creators Project: a partnership with Intel and Vice