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a new / old / new song—various influences on this, a reprise of some text-messages sent to Drew over an older riff brought back from the dead.

song 1 of 2 for Reprise, Reprise!, released before the book as it lingers with the Valentine’s Day influence

there are Love Songs, and there are great Love Songs.

then there is a song about love. not the piercing breakup or the ecstatic first morning after. the kind of love that just endures through kindred spirits over time, the punk-rock couches accepting strangers, the protests providing shelter, the people who look out for each other because that’s what love is and that’s what life is.

it would have the raucous joy and terrified thunder that love carries naturally, and it’s this one

Even though cameras are everywhere and people take pictures with their cars at this point, there’s a mighty difference between being a person who lucks out on capturing a good frame from a live stream and one who understands the mechanics of optics and the natural flow of humanity enough to capture a moment. Point being, there are people who take pictures and there are photographers.

This isn’t meant as higher-than-though snobbery, either: I fully believe anyone can become a photographer. But there’s a difference, and that difference is all in the person behind the camera: it’s intention, it’s consideration, it’s an idea. It’s a feeling, a desire, a risk. If there’s no intention to a picture that comes out good, then it’s emotional ephemera. If you risk a feeling of failure, the reward of the frame is tenfold.

& photographers all know this feeling. It’s the reason most keep taking pictures, to feel the camera click as your finger presses down, and for the blink where it all goes black behind the lens, you know you go the shot. That it’ll be confirmed when the film comes back, or when the image is uploaded, but you just know it came out—just enough, at least, to be confident more than you are nervous. (it is not dis-similar to other creative feelings such as: showing a painting for the first time, releasing a song to the public, performing anything in front of a live audience)

And as it is with the camera, so it is with the heart.

In my wanderings since college, I’ve fallen in love three times, and I have a picture of each moment.

Whatever processes make up my internal government, they usually rely on a creative reflex to confirm an emotional instinct. I make things in order to process thoughts and feelings, and this always has had a strange and distinct intersection with my personal relationships. In the best of extremes, it comes down to a moment of clarity, a single frame. A point at which the creative desire to create a document crosses with the personal desire to connect with someone in a way that could not be closer.

And that’s just how it’s gone with me, with portraiture in general. It’s why I only make portraits of people I know, because that’s the only way they’ll be true. While I have an extensive portfolio of pictures and paintings of people, it’s these that I return to, because they represent the best intersections of emotions and motivations that don’t necessarily have established languages, for they remain intensely personal. These aren’t works that necessarily translate to anything greater than personal resonance, but it is within that resonance that creates reason for the rest.

Romantic love is hardly the most important variation of the feeling, yet it’s the one advertising and industry use to contort our society with in its various messages of manipulation and public relations. In many ways these are tough photos for me to look at now (as, obviously, the third time has not actually turned into the charm I had hoped for)—yet I find them important to return to as reminders that art is about translating the unseen, intangible intersections of our lives that are understood but undefined, to help people better understand one another, or perhaps if nothing else, ourselves.

“Love is blind,” the saying goes, but it’s not gonna help anything. Love in this world is about who you can see.

A blind love would have disastrous consequences in this world. A blind love would mean people would have to consider their everyday actions, and how they affect those who they cannot see. A blind love would mean we don’t compete over resources, but work together & build a system that utilizes and distributes them equally among all.

A blind love would mean nobody would buy the shirt sewn by a slave in Indonesia or an iPhone assembled by a child in China; a blind love would mean those conditions don’t exist to begin with. A blind love wouldn’t let food or buildings go to waste while people starve and sleep on the street. A blind love wouldn’t have borders, much less children in cages away from their families at them. A blind love wouldn’t survive in America.

We are told love is blind, but we are shown only the opposite. At the end of the day, even the preacher lines up with a bucket to pass, and that bucket has consequences. That bucket is a consequence.

Scarcity, inequality. Destitution. These are the results of the people who believe humans are here to create a greeting card industry for Valentine’s Day to sell you a card that says Love is Blind instead of practicing love for their neighbor.

There is no such thing as an industry of love. No company cares, no brand feels. But they all reinforce this warped, inverted idea of love that begins with what the individual desires and composes a facade of the world around from that, a full-on spectacle meant to completely distract from the fact its general infrastructure and operation in the world is built in the misery of so many—but we can’t see them, and what else is there to life?

I have such a struggle with living in the United States because so many actions we take as individuals, on a daily basis, require the pain of someone somewhere else. There is no ethical consumption under capitalism, which means the very idea of living with love in your heart for the world at large comes with an unending anxiety. We wonder about mental health in this country, and it’s because we’re built to love one another and we’re living in a state built to divide us and see one another only as the competition, not to be cared for.

“Individual responsibility,” and how that economic concept has come to just completely ruin our ideas of relationships, social groups and the possibilities of human collaboration … there’s just been nothing more destructive to the potential of love than the United States of America.


Colin Smith is an interdisciplinary artist & art director living & working in Los Angeles. His assembly-based work focuses on human nature and its relationship to media, language, time, and systems of control.

For more information, social links, as well as various writings on practice & theory, visit the about page.

To quickly get in touch, e-mail hello@.


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