David A. Smith

20/8/12 – Death Ray

A friend of mine had mentioned the works of David Smith via Facebook. David Smith is a contemporary artist who has used everyday objects for bizarre or unusual installations. On Smith’s website there is an image of a bright blue skull that is juxtaposed with plastic toy guns that extrude from the eye sockets. The reflective surface also provides an interesting composition between the skull and the toy guns that are attached to the wall.

One could argue that the installation features a pop / retro style that may question the image of the skull within a commercial setting. The installation may demonstrate how the skull has become a commodity within the urban culture. My visual own observations have identified the skull in window displays, advertisements, billboards and even television commercials that also exemplifies a strong demand for the skull within the mainstream market.

In regards to the installation, the skull appears almost surprised or shocked as two bright red guns impale both of the eye sockets. The actual placement is quite   surreal and obscure, it’s not everyday you see a skull with two red guns protruding from each socket. Smith has also created other unusual compositions such as the skull and the handsaw or the skull and the machete that is balanced on top of it’s head.

Perhaps the skull is displayed as an ambiguous subject that has no direct or a specific meaning. Perhaps the skull is subjective, each person would have a different perspective or interpretation to the subject of death.According to Elizabeth Carmicheal and Chloe Sayar “The skull and bones are the universal symbol of death” (Carmichael & Sayar, 2003) Is the skull an iconic representation or has the skull lost it’s original meaning or association with death? In the 21st Century, the skull is impossible to avoid in almost every art form, has commercial or industrial goods removed the subject of death from the visual culture entirely?

David.A.Smith Official Site, http://www.davidasmithart.co.uk/4127.html (Accessed 20/8/12)

Carmichael, Elizabeth, and Chloe Sayar. The Skeleton at the Feast: The Day of the Dead in Mexico.  Texas: Texas Press Printing, 2003 p.41


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