HD television has gotten so crisp that sometimes it’s easy to forget that we are just looking at pixelated light. When we are watching NatGeo it really feels like we are looking at a real animal in nature. Shawn Smith uses this fine line between reality and the digital world as the primary investigation for his art work. By cutting sheets of plywood or particle board into 1/2″ wide strips of varying lengths, then dying them different colors with hand-mixed dyes of ink and acrylic paint, he transforms an image into a 3-dimensional pixelated sculpture. Smith states, “Through the process of pixelation, color is distilled, some bits of information are lost, and the form is abstracted. Making the intangible tangible, I view my building process as an experiment in alchemy, using man-made composite and recycled materials to represent natural forms.”
In Smith’s non-dyed sculptures, like the moose and bear, it is easier to see the structure of the wood because your mind doesn’t automatically blur the pixels together as much. Smith mainly sculpts animals that he has never seen in real life, much like the ones people prefer to watch on television. Smith currently resides in Austin, Texas and last year his work appeared in the “40 Under 40: Craft Futures” at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery. See more pixelated animals on Smith’s website.
Shawn Smith describing his artistic process for the “New Art in Austin” video by Brent Bayliss