Shawn Smith's "Disintegrating Eagle" Starts with a Google Image

Sculptor Shawn Smith likes to take stuff apart so he can put it back together--pixel-by-pixel. He finds images online, and then crafts them into 3D reality: One little piece at a time. He starts with a Google image, usually nothing more than a thumbnail.

He zooms in until the image is pixelated, and then he draws what he sees on graph paper. From there he creates a map, of sorts. Then it's on to cutting tiny pieces of wood, dying them, and, ultimately, assembling them.

In "Disintegrating Eagle," a three-dimensional bird looks as if he might dissipate into pieces. The simple act of searching online gives us an image. But Smith dissects that image and then reassembles it, painstakingly recreating in reality what was instantly granted virtually.

So, there's an interesting social commentary at work here: Is there artistic value in the Google search, as well as the resulting rendering? Are you, Google searcher, a part of the art?

They're interesting questions, all ones you can seek to answer at Smith's current show at Craighead Green Gallery, where you also can see the work of Peter Burega and Pamela Nelson through December 19.

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