David Thomas Smith

by nathandowningsolent

Auburn Hills, Miami, United States, 2009-2010, David Thomas Smith

1000 Chrysler Dr, Auburn Hills, MI, United States, 2009-2010, David Thomas Smith

Delta Coal Port, Vancouver, Canada, 2009-2011, David Thomas Smith

Delta Coal Port, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, 2009-2011, David Thomas Smith

Appropriation is frequent in the work of David Thomas Smith. His kaleidoscopic images, delicately pieced together from thousands of digitally captured thumbnails, are a maze of awe-inspiring detail. Using visual abstractions, he is able to present questions regarding the political and socio-economic climate, his documentary background holds key links to this chosen representation. He obtained a (BA Hons) in documentary photography at the University of Wales in Newport. David Thomas Smith has always shown a keen interest in the representing of social, economic and political atmosphere. Bringing such immaculate and crisp detail, fused with the grand scale of his prints, his work is able to allow the viewer time to reflect on the prevalent issues raised.

The collection of images, entitled Anthropecene (2009-2011), were all sourced from the worldwide digital-cartography of Google Earth. Once again, the use of appropriation questions the definition of art, but questions of authorship still reside as evident controversy. The monstrosity and scale of the entanglement of road systems, industrial buildings and human construction, is overwhelming to the eye. You may find yourself focusing in and out of different areas as if Google Earth itself, another thematic approachable within an artistic frame, comparing popular digital presence and its influence on the way we perceive such images.

Las Norias De Daza, Spain 2009-2011, David Thomas Smith

Las Norias De Daza, Almeria, Spain 2009-2011, David Thomas Smith

Anthropocene refers to the period of which human presence is the most influential on our planet’s climate and environmental wellbeing. Moving out of the holocene, the geological age, and in to the anthropocene, it covers the notion of human existence being a force now equivalent to other geological impacts that currently prevail. The extravagancy of David Thomas Smith’s composite creations are evidently representative of the principles of the Anthropocene. Demonstrating that these labyrinths of human construction connotatively holds characteristics of empowerment and dominance. An intricately woven fort of concrete appropriated as a metaphysical representation of human’s impact here on earth.

Using Google Earth as a source for images was, at first, a bizarre concept to me. However after a bit of research I was quickly influenced by some of work relating to this process. The Nine Eyes of Google Street View by artist Jon Rafman, Dutch Landscapes by Mishka Henner and also the Google Earth inspired work by artist Clement Valla. I decided to create my own images, similar to the work of David Thomas Smith to experiment with the usability of google earth, to gain a more detailed understanding of the process behind the creative compositions seen in David’s work.

Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 2015, Nathan Downing

Mojave Air, CA, USA

Mojave Air, California, 2015, Nathan Downing

Sphagetti Junction, Birmingham, 2015, Nathan Downing

Sphagetti Junction, Birmingham, 2015, Nathan Downing

Nyingchi, Tibet, 2015, Nathan Downing

Nyingchi, Tibet, 2015, Nathan Downing

Using Google earth’s in programme capture software and the manipulative tools found in photoshop, I was able to create kaleidoscopic images exploring natural and man-made terrain, revealing the beauty of its structural form. Using an abstract mirroring of aerial aesthetics I was able to draw focus to the detail and intricacy of both natural and man-made constructions.

The capturing process used to make this work was exciting to investigate, but the incorporating of appropriation within your creative mindset requires a steep learning curve. This form of appropriation, utilising google earth, has been fully embraced by David Thomas Smith, his work is a prime example of a contemporary practice that pushes the boundaries of art. A form of photography relevant to the widely-recognised digital innovation in cartography, morphing the way we view the world, this set of images and art.


Rafman, J, “The Nine Eyes of Google Street View”, 2011, Jean Boîte Editions

Shore, R, “Post Photography: The Artist with a Camera”, 2014, Laurence King Publishing

Stromberg, J, “What is the Anthropocene and Are We in It?”, Smithsonian Online, 2013 [Viewed 8 Feb 2015] Available at: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/what-is-the-anthropocene-and-are-we-in-it-164801414/?no-ist

The Copper House Gallery Online, “David Thomas Struth”, 2015, [Viewed 8 Feb 2015]

Available at: http://www.thecopperhousegallery.com/artists/67-David-Thomas-Smith/biography/