Scottish artist Sandy Smith has gotten loads of well-deserved press and internet buzz around his brilliant Computer Installations project, but his site showcases a ton of interesting tech and socially-tinged installation work, as well as some awesome insight into each piece from the artist himself.
For Computer Installations, including the obsolescent beauty of “Mauritian Sunset”, pictured below, he took old computer monitors, donated by his alma mater, the Glasgow School of Art, and turned them into gorgeous large-scale installation pieces.
Eye-grabbing from the front and equally intriguing from the back. I love the “technology behind the curtain” vibe; the allusion toward so many beautiful things whose veneer faces us while the nuts and bolts of how their allure is maintained is hidden. The door also intrigues me. You don’t have to travel around the outside of the entire piece to see both the gilded and the mechanical side; there’s a passageway right there in the middle, a portal, and Smith invites us to openly transverse between the two. This way we see the honest connection between the colourful light and all those dull, grey wires that are working so hard to create it. They might not be as pretty or as celebrated, but they’re responsible for all the shiny glory shimmering on the other side.
For “Green/Blue Horizontal”, inspired by the ubiquitous Windows wallpaper “Bliss”, he created a walk-in corner installation from more than 60 computers. Programmed to glow blue and green, people could walk inside the amazing luminescence created by the piece and find some bliss of their own.
But that’s just the beginning. In his own description of his installation work “Sapere Aude”, Smith’s flair for the written explanation really kicks in. This guy isn’t just an artistic bright light, he’s also self-deprecating and funny as hell:
“…we set forth our intention to work collaboratively in an exploration of Immanuel Kant’s essay ‘What is enlightenment’. It was a lofty project, and a beautiful proposal, where we would explore ‘why we make crap things with highbrow ideas.’ Not us personally, but everybody and us… It would be too impertinent to suggest that by merely attempting this process we have resolved anything so lofty as our intentions and ambition desired, but I put it to you that maybe, just maybe, that’s okay. This is not to excuse ourselves – you read me too literally. We like this shit. And thus maybe we should not seek to explain ourselves just too much, and instead ‘have courage to use your [our] own reason’. Or, as Kant paraphrased in the first paragraph of ‘What is enlightenment?’, Sapere aude.
Kant. What a cunt.”
Seriously. How can you not love this dude?
For “Please Don’t Break My Heart”, he sculpturally constructed the phrase “All The Time I Was Making This I Was Thinking Of You” from 100 sheets of mounting board he super-glue together. Standing 2 metres tall but only 12 centimetres deep, the precarious fragility of the whole piece was intentional.
With that in mind, the picture below is the only one he has of the completed piece as it appeared at the exhibition opening. That night someone bumped into it and the whole thing collapsed. Oddly enough, I think, knowing what it spelled out in the first place, the broken down version is even more beautiful. A wonderful physical adaption to the tenuous nature of the sentiment it once spelled out. I also wonder if maybe, having built it to a dimension that made it so easy to topple, this was Smith’s secret intention the whole time.
For “All The Time I Was Making This I Was Thinking Of You”, part of the Studio Project 9 residency at Glasgow’s Market Gallery, Smith spent 18 hours a day placing 600 hand-made paper flowers and 1200 leaves onto four large trees. Sitting in the “meadow” between the four trees is an angular block, lit from within, whose perforations spell out “Every day in every way I am getting better and better”.
On his site Smith says “What’s it all about? The optimism, beauty and misplaced trust of striving to make Art contrasted with the puritan work ethic involved. Making a nice place to sit. Endeavour, arrogance, naivety, spontaneity, Dead Poets Society and art.”
Finally, in another project that sources from the deep well of the net’s collective emotional concious, the appropriately titled “Google Image Search” is a video installation consisting of two monitors. One displayed a single word, and the other displayed the top 20 image results for that word from Google.