Act Like Nothing’s Wrong in Wired Magazine

the fol­low­ing appeared in Wired Mag­a­zine, Issue 2.10, Oct 1994

Wired logo

 

Act Like Nothing’s Wrong by Andrew Rozmiarek


Sym­bolic. Ironic. Gross. Funny. All these describe the can­ni­bal­is­tic art­work of Win­ston Smith. For the past 18 years, Smith has been cre­at­ing col­lage art from the thou­sands of mag­a­zine images that fill his tiny San Fran­cisco apartment.

 

Using Uhu glue­sticks and an Olfa stain­less steel razor blade, Smith har­vests pho­tographs from old mag­a­zines, com­bin­ing them into works that tar­get the “nothing’s wrong” atti­tude, as he calls it, preva­lent in today’s media.

 

When Smith returned to the US after six years in Italy, two of them at the Acad­emy of Fine Arts in Flo­rence, he was struck by the level of cor­po­rate con­trol endured by most Amer­i­cans. His work is an uncom­fort­able reminder that things are not as pleas­ant as they may seem.

 

Smith uses images from the mass media, twist­ing them into the Franken­stein chil­dren of Madi­son Avenue. In pieces like one in which a farmer unloads a pile of babies with a pitch­fork (the cap­tion reads,“Well, it’s a job, and a man’s gotta eat”), Smith chal­lenges those who would never “know­ingly” hurt any­one yet are will­ing to work in indus­tries that cre­ate weapons of destruction.”

 

My work is on a scale that peo­ple can relate to,” he says. We may not see the gov­ern­ment spend­ing bil­lions of tax dol­lars on “Bat­man planes that can’t shoot straight,” but we can’t ignore the mes­sage in Smith’s image of a hun­dred slaves toil­ing to pull a nuclear sub­ma­rine up a rocky hill.

 

Icons of sex, money, and vio­lence are every­where in his art. “I work with what I have,” Smith says. “That’s what Time gave me.”