Copy/Paste infers a lack of consequences; When you copy something from one environment and paste it into another, the assumption is that it has gone unchanged. But in David B. Smith’s practice he repeatedly plays with and challenges this assumption, emphasizing and aggressively pushing the transformations that, in reality, are inevitable. By playfully amplifying noise, improvisation, and misunderstanding, he explores the way copying and pasting can entropically generate something “new.”
David B. Smith uses digitally found or photographed images, copies and processes their form, and pastes them into a variety of real spaces, creating a surreal, dream-like environment. These images are turned into objects, which in turn are themselves modes of communication. He takes source material based either on his own memories or the “popular” memory (cultural history) and illuminates and questions the shifts in the concepts of the self, perception, meaning, and images within broader culture. The individual works that make up his installations are made from “weave-on-demand fabric” that he designs by digitally manipulating imagery he finds on the web and photographs he takes of his everyday life. He then crafts soft, human-scale, semi-abstract, ornately-patterned wall-works and sculptures that range from blanket-like collages to folded wall hangings to stuffed pillow sculpture that hang from the ceiling and sit on the floor.
For Spring/Break 2016 David will install his works on the walls, floor, and ceiling, creating a warm, dark, and somewhat spooky environment. This cocoon-like space will approximate the feeling of being inside a surreal version of David’s mind, and will incorporate custom-made light fixtures that throw patterns of light and shadow throughout the space to highlight connections between these “memory-objects.” The aim is to create a sense of pleasant and possibly creepy disorientation, in which systems of perception and meaning are questioned, and a sense of freedom and play is cultivated. In blurring the lines between internal thoughts and external perceptions, Smith aims to extrude unconscious patterns of thought and emotion into physical space, heightening interpersonal connection and providing a space for mediation on notions of the self in our time of increasing digital reliance and physical separation.
During the course of the show, Smith will be present in the installation for at least one hour per day to take polaroid photographs of the installation and what is going on inside. The photos will be available to be taken away as memories of memories – adding another transformative layer. During this performance, viewers will be invited to be part of the documentation and to take this evidence of their presence with them, also taking the artist’s reflection of his own experience.
Smith chooses the source imagery both intuitively and rationally, with an emphasis on images and memes that resonate with a collective emotion - such as cartoons, Instagram images, vintage toys, auction catalogues, fashion magazines, advertisements, video games, postcards and other items found in thrifts stores. Smith is interested in how their meanings shift along with this shift in form or context. His process is one that reveals the technical mechanism of Copy/Paste, as he acts as a sort of “dysfunctional robot” by sorting, processing, and distorting these ubiquitous references, to generate a new artifact. In this way Smith’s work examines collective and personal memory and what it means to displace these memories on different contexts.
He then digitally “pastes” these images into his blankets and the same process is applied again to the blankets’ forms, which are altered using various techniques invented by the artist to create soft, intimate but unfamiliar and strange objects. These objects are used to create immersive garden-like environments that explore the relationship between a 2 dimensional image and 3 dimensional space, as well as the merging of real and digital space.
Remembering is a process of telling a story based on data from the past, arranged in a particular way. The artist playfully disrupts this arrangement, removing pieces, superimposing one story on another, duplicating and rearranging sections of images, or corrupting the data. The resulting images are at once encrypted memories and new stories - the image has taken on a new form and new meaning. The works are creative idiosyncratic leaps from rational thinking, yet they still act as portals to the original memory content. This alters the relationship between the viewer and the image and aims to uncover the code beneath the surface of reality, often taken for granted.