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Sam Smith

(Australia 1980 – )

Control structure
Media categories
Sculpture, Time-based media
Materials used
single-channel HD video on LCD monitor, colour, stereo, 16:9 ratio, 4.30 min loop, hoop pine plywood, maple plywood, polyester resin, fibreglass, mortar, aggregate, polyurethane foam, silicone

280.0 x 260.0 x 125.0 cm

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Gift of Stephen Grant and Bridget Pirrie 2011. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

Sam Smith's 'Control Structure' 2008 is both sculpture and video installation. It takes the form of a classic portrait bust, though one which lies on its side as if fallen from a pedestal. Constructed of sections of cut plywood there is something both cubist and classical about this form, the planar sectional shapes recalling analytical cubism while the overall shape of the sculpture is a like a diagrammatic version of a classical statue. The monochromatic reduced palette of the plywood further removes the work from realist representation and recalls the similar use of mutely coloured timber in sculpture over the last decade by Ricky Swallow, James Angus and Peter Hennessey.

Extending from one eye of the sculpture like a telescope is a large lens. Smith has often used a camera lens in his work, both as a sculptural object with formal properties in its own right and as something which implies that filming or photographing is about to occur. As a video and filmmaker himself, the lens also becomes a prosthetic extension of the artist's own body, implying a type of super-vision or a body which has melded with technology.

The fact this sculpture is a form of self-portrait is also suggested in the video footage played on screens which occupy parts of the sculpture and which includes footage of the artist with a large surreal lens extending from where his eyes should be. The fact that the other eye of the sculpture seems blinded by black material suggests that vision mediated by technology is all that is now available. The prosthetic lens extending from the artist also embodies the craft of the filmmaker, the cameraman, the material and vision of Sam Smith's art practice itself.

Bibliography (5)

Linda Carroli, Eyeline: contemporary visual arts, 'The Premier of Queensland's national new media art award', pg. 30-32, Brisbane, 2009.

Greg Hooper, RealTime, 'Queensland Premier's national new media art awards', pg. 27, Sydney, 2008.

Anneke Jaspers, Look, 'Sam Smith: cameraman', pg. 28-29, Newtown, May 2011, 29.

José Da Silva, Sam Smith: special effects, 'Into the void', n.pag., Sydney, 2009, n.pag..

José Da Silva, Premier of Queensland's national new media art award, 'Sam Smith: the pixel eye', pg. 32-35, Brisbane, 2008, 32-33 (colour illus., video stills), 34 (colour illus., detail).

Exhibition history (2)

Premier of Queensland’s National New Media Art Award, Gallery of Modern Art, Queensland, 01 Nov 2008–08 Feb 2009

Special effects, Grantpirrie Gallery, Redfern, 29 Oct 2009–21 Nov 2009