new-york

David Smith

P. P. O. W.

David Smith works with a deliberately limited set of semiotic codes about the Vietnam War, which varies slightly with each piece. Among these codes are numbers in rows, silhouettes of military aircraft, insignias, and photographs bordered with dates. The artist “saw combat” as a marine in Vietnam. But for Smith seeing and recollection are not unambiguous referential acts. In a text accompanying the exhibition, he describes his use of “invention” to “regain memory,” constructing images on the basis of logical, military codes. The various elements are arranged according to both computer-generated patterns of randomness and specific acts of memory. The role of randomness in war is itself an acute memory for Smith. In a sense, his work subverts the memory of codes that were originally intended, in part to provide a way of distancing the subject from traumatic experience.

Fuck ’em if they can’t

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