Look closer, and these symmetrical compositions reveal global landscapes transformed by mankind. Imagine a carpet made up of aerial satellite images of modern infrastructure: concrete roads and rooftops replacing fiber weft and warp. See this artist’s “rug” made from snaps of Beijing International Airport, above.
According to CoCreate, Smith said the works are meant to reflect upon “global capitalism, transforming the aerial landscapes of sites associated with industries such as oil, precious metals, consumer culture information and excess.”
Using centuries-old patterns from Persian rug makers, with a nod to Afghan weavers who use tapestry to record vivid pictorial histories, this artist uses digital photography to create fabric that plays with fact and fiction, surveillance and invisibility. Thomas Smith reproduces classic motifs with Photoshop, at a level of detail one can only really experience in person, or (aptly for his medium) through point-and-click enlargement on his website. These images and accompanying text come from that site:
Here’s the city of Dubai around the Burj Khalifa. “Located in the United Arab Emirates, an epicenter of Arab oil wealth, it’s a city that bloomed in the desert, fed entirely by oil.”
“Las Norias de Daza, Almeria, Spain, also known as the ‘bread basket of Europe’, because so many of that continent’s out-of-season crops come from this sea of polyethylene tents and green houses. The lakes in the center have turned green due to the vast amounts of effluent that seeps into them.”
“Delta Coal Port, Vancouver, British Columbia, is one of the main centers for the shipping of tar sands, materials that are becoming increasingly important as oil depletion continues.”
“A true hyper-reality that needs no introduction: Las Vegas (Nevada) consumes so much water to support its increasingly thirsty population, that the mighty Colorado River barely reaches the sea.”
“Fimiston Open Pit, Western Australia, is one of that country’s largest gold mines and the largest open pit mine operating in the world today. Fimiston Open Pit is so large it can be seen from space.”
On his blog, the artist quotes American environmental writer Andrew Revkin, “We are entering an age that might someday be referred to as, say, the Anthropocene. After all, it is a geological age of our own making.”
Entitled Anthropocene, David Thomas Smith’s first solo show is currently exhibiting at Dublin’s Copper House Gallery, a forum dedicated to curating and promoting contemporary photography and Irish art. Catch the show in person through 16 April, or view it online (and purchase prints) at the artist’s website. He currently lives and works in Dublin.