Reflections on water.
I have always been intrigued by things that create new visions of the world around me. I developed my artistic technique – making mosaics from my photographs –
to have my own way of remixing reality.
Each mosaic is handmade using glue and hundreds or thousands of small fragments of my photographs. I shoot many photos of a scene, create a new composition with the prints, cut them into small pieces and glue them back together. The layering of the pieces adds a sculptural component to the works, and the shadows they cast create a subtle three-dimensional effect.
My work subverts the “truth” that photographs are thought to document, transforming a mechanical medium with the hand, and rewarding the viewer with visual surprises. From a distance, each mosaic looks like a painting, get closer and you see a photo, and further inspection will reveal the intricate mosaic construction. The effect is like gazing in a broken mirror, where the fractured edges allow me to remix reality, bridging the gap between how the world is and how I see it.
Travel fuels my passion and my work, and I have a large body of work of over 170 pieces, representing locations from around the world. All my mosaics are completely handmade, using only archival materials designed for longevity.
As the international design editor for National Geographic Magazine, Darren Smith uses his editorial eye and attention to detail. He applies the same skills to astonishing results in his handmade photo mosaics. Using hundreds or thousands of small fragments of his photographs, he painstakingly rebuilds new ‘realities’ from the pictures.
Smith draws his visual vocabulary from unusual landscapes that cross cultural and religious boundaries. His position with National Geographic Magazine often takes him to diverse foreign locales. Architecture, people, statues, natural phenomena and city life, photographed in the artist’s travels, appear as formal elements in his compositions.
Frustrated by the limitations of traditional photography, but also disappointed in the plastic appearance of digitally manipulated images, he created his mosaic technique to have his own way of remixing reality, to transform a mechanical medium with the hand, creating surreal new worlds of intense detail and optimism.
His recent body of work, Cross & Ladder, will open as a solo exhibition in March 2009 at Honfleur Gallery in Washington, D.C. This collection is a study of two elements, the Cross and the Ladder, both symbols of humankind’s desire
to transcend our place in the world, either spiritually or intellectually. The cross is an icon for religion and faith. In counterpoint, Smith uses the ladder to represent science and its rational, step-by-step pursuit of knowledge. The ladder symbol is rooted in a discovery of modern science, the double helix of DNA. From abortion to stem cell research to gay rights, the most pressing cultural debates of our time are wars between religion and science, clashes of faith and reason.
Smith’s work has been featured in solo and group shows in Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland, and Paris, France. His artwork is in private collections on both sides of the Atlantic. Honors to date include Second Place, National Arts Program from the National Press Club (2007), and an Equal Award (2006) and Marker Award (2005) from the Art League, Torpedo Factory. He is represented by Honfleur Gallery (www.honfleurgallery.com) and lives and works in
Washington, D.C., with his wife and daughter.