Cloudminders, Geary Gallery, New York, NY
Cloudminders is composed of a series of textile-based works and sculpture that is in essence about the power of collective imagination and world building. Smith begins the process of constructing his work by sourcing imagery from collective digital memory such as screengrabs from video games, YouTube videos, and personal images from social media platforms. Those images are altered in Photoshop, and then jacquard woven via an online service. This fabric is further altered and manipulated by hand with embellishment in embroidery, piecing, and appliqué. In this way, the images become at once strange and unsettling, yet oddly cozy and familiar.
Cave Dwellers at the Spring / Break Art Show is a theatrical presentation of cuddly yet spooky anamorphic soft sculpture and textile paintings made with a combination of traditional and modern techniques such as cutting, sewing, stuffing, digital weaving, and hand-embroidery. Installed in an environment resembling something between a cave and the holodeck, the works evoke a cavern of curiosities belonging to a speculative future where machines and organic beings have merged. Inspired by the language of science fiction films and nostalgic Natural History Museum dioramas, Smith presents an open-ended narrative of a diverse community of bio-technological beings living underground as the earth’s atmosphere surface has become inhospitable.
Soft Bodies, Halsey McKay Gallery, East Hampton, NY
Smith’s four works blur the line between textiles, photographs, and paintings, highlighting the interplay between digital and handmade craft. Slow and meditative, the pieces pay tribute to craftspeople like Smith’s grandmothers, whose domestic and ceremonial craft tradition was passed down through generations and contributed to their lives and communities. Smith’s works also continue his inquiry into how our physical bodies are relating to the digital world in the midst of intense technological and social change.
Each of the vibrant, hand-embroidered tapestries features a semi-abstracted photographic image of a body or face, interwoven with a network of threads that suggest a layer of information unseen by the human eye. The bodies depicted are personal yet detached; a barely recognizable self-portrait, a generic body collaged into one of Smith’s organic sculptural installations, a digital video game character he encountered, and a screenshot of Mark Zuckerberg during his Senate hearing; complete with a mask-like grid overlay of AI emotion-analyzing software.
Under the Surface, LMAK Gallery, New York, NY
This courtyard installation consists of soft sculptures made from digital photo banners recycled from Smith's piece at Socrates Sculpture Park. The organic system of interweaving sculptures is a kind of 3D dimensional collage, continuously reinterpreted by the viewer as they maneuver through this shifting microcosm to sense their inclusion in the natural world, the cityscape and digital space.
As part of the exhibition Smith has curated events, including an ambient soundscape inspired by Jacques Cousteau and theories of the unconscious, a presentation of poetry and performance by Alina Gregorian, Dain Mergenthaler and Moeinedin Shashei, a dance by choreographer Jessica Cook and a communal meal planned by chef Sung Kim, preceded by a guided meditation by Smith.
Sampler, Planthouse Gallery, New York, NY
Inspired by his participation in Planthouse’s 2017 exhibition of artist-made flags, Say a Little Prayer for U.S., Smith has continued to make ‘flags’ by fervently embroidering digitally woven cotton of his own design with wool, hemp, acrylic and other threads, mirroring the act of prayer through an extended interaction with each piece.
The finished works are primordial patterns, stories, and spaces that relate to systems such as blood flow, the internet, memory, genetics, social structures, skeletons, economics, plant roots, identity, and politics. Each flag is a proposition for reality—a symbol for and a window into a different world. They activate layered and blended fields of interweaving connections, speaking to the way worlds and ideas form and evolve.
Memory Palace, 42 Social Club, Old Lyme, CT
Installed in a traditional straw bale house in a wooded area of rural Connecticut, Memory Palace is a cross section of David's practice from 2015-2017. The rustic space mirrors his interest in organic processes and materials as well as home-craft techniques such as weaving, embroidery, woodworking, and stuffed sculptures. The installation is a representation of a Memory Palace, imaginary architecture that holds images and objects representative of memories that can be accessed as needed. The symmetrical installation mirrors itself and references the body, the mind, and the notion of a balanced and calm interior, adjacent to the organic chaos of the surrounding woods.
The Unseen, Halsey McKay Gallery space at 56 Henry St. 2016, NYC, NY
In this enveloping installation, David evokes a chamber from another world with his jarring yet comfortable wall sculptures. David's hauntingly complex vocabulary weaves his own photographs, nostalgic pop imagery, and pixelation, into alien-like organic forms that strike a balance between the warmth of the known and the anxiety of the unfamiliar. This installation is a microcosm distilling his unique language - a portal into his aggressively prolific practice of collecting and de-constructing images, and into another reality
Extruded Daydream, Spring / Break Art Show, March, 2016, NYC, NY
For Spring / Break Art Show 2016, David installed his works on the walls, floor, and ceiling, creating a warm, dark, and somewhat spooky environment. This cocoon-like space approximated the feeling of being inside a surreal version of David's mind, incorporating custom-made light fixtures that threw patterns of light and shadow throughout the space to highlight connections between these 'memory objects.' The aim was 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.
The Seer, Halsey McKay Gallery, East Hampton, NY, January 2016
Working in opposition to Google's Deep Dream algorithm, which teaches computers to interpret images, David B. Smith programmatically de-constructs images, transforming them into soft objects that refuse to be deciphered by human or machine. His surreal and kaleidoscopic sculptures and paintings buzz with layered associative connotation, yet when one looks deeper only a ghost of the original meaning is present. In Smith's case, the emphasis is how the path can meander widely, resulting in a shifting meaning that generates beguiling results more akin to dreams that to memories.
Intimate Strangers, Franconia Sculpture Park, Shafer, MN, June 2016 to June 2017
Intimate Strangers is made up of 5 intertwined photo-sculptures related to the Franconia Sculpture Park community. Printed with digitally altered images with subjects ranging from kids at the park, to lichens found on nearby rocks, to baby pictures of members of the park community, each sculpture was made by having the the image printed on billboard material, cutting it into a snake-like shape, and stuffing it with aluminum cans and plastic bottles. The sculptures were then playfully arranged on a wooden “playground” to hint at the ever-shifting diversity, creativity, and complexity of this community and place.
Supercharger, Greenpoint Open Studios, Brooklyn, NY, 2016
Supercharger is a large scale installation made up of all the works in David B. Smith's studio. By collaging, layering and and re-composing the works on a large wall, David channelled the energy in each individual work and combined them to create something greater than the sum of its parts. Immersive, and meant to fill the field of vision, Supercharger envelops the viewer as they move closer to it, and allows them to see the individual works as they move farther away, sculpturally and architecturally changing one's perception and inviting a feeling of warmth, play and possibility to the space.
Seeing Backwards, Calico Gallery, May 2015
For his solo exhibition at Calico, David B. Smith revisits a collection of 60s and 70s pop-culture metal lunch boxes he inherited from his father and has used in performances, sculptures, photographs, and videos over the last 10 years. This exhibition is the final step in a process of digestion and exorcism, and expresses a letting go of the boxes through creating new fabric-based objects from their images. Smith also created new works for the show through a process of rebirth - a systematic yet subjective program of using photographs of the original lunch boxes to make semi-abstract, hallucinatory, kaleidoscopic, digitally-woven tapestries.