words and art by w a l t e r w s m i t h


linear data | machinations | the complexity of white supremacy outside my window | part one : incarceration

linear data prison text 1

Machinations: A scheming or crafty action or artful design intended to accomplish some usually evil end.

“Outside My Window” is a sub-series within “Linear Data” where the focus will be on statistical data with respect to various findings that convey elements of white supremacy, white privilege, and institutional racism etc., in our society. I will attempt to subjectively interject with my own commentary as little as possible.

Privatization of prisons: A private prison or for profit prison is a place in which individuals are physically confined or incarcerated by a third party that is contracted by a government agency.


Incarceration Trends in America

Between 1980 and 2015, the number of people incarcerated in America increased from roughly 500,000 to< over 2.2 million. Today, the United States makes up about 5% of the world’s population and has 21% of the world’s prisoners. 1 in every 37 adults in the United States, or 2.7% of the adult population, is under some form of correctional supervision.

Racial Disparities in Incarceration

In 2014, African Americans constituted 2.3 million, or 34%, of the total 6.8 million correctional population. African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites. The imprisonment rate for African American women is twice that of white women. Nationwide, African American children represent 32% of children who are arrested, 42% of children who are detained, and 52% of children whose cases are judicially waived to criminal court. Though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately 32% of the US population, they comprised 56% of all incarcerated people in 2015. If African Americans and Hispanics were incarcerated at the same rates as whites, prison and jail populations would decline by almost 40%.

Drug Sentencing Disparities

In the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 17 million whites and 4 million African Americans reported having used an illicit drug within the last month. African Americans and whites use drugs at similar rates, but the imprisonment rate of African Americans for drug charges is almost 6 times that of whites. African Americans represent 12.5% of illicit drug users, but 29% of those arrested for drug offenses and 33% of those incarcerated in state facilities for drug offenses.

Contributing Factors

Inner city crime prompted by social and economic isolation. Crime/drug arrest rates: African Americans represent 12% of monthly drug users, but comprise 32% of persons arrested for drug possession. “Get tough on crime” and “war on drugs” policies. Mandatory minimum sentencing, especially disparities in sentencing for crack and powder cocaine possession. In 2002, blacks constituted more than 80% of the people sentenced under the federal crack cocaine laws and served substantially more time in prison for drug offenses than did whites, despite that fact that more than 2/3 of crack cocaine users in the U.S. are white or Hispanic. “Three Strikes”/habitual offender policies. Zero Tolerance policies as a result of perceived problems of school violence; adverse affect on black children. 35% of black children grades 7-12 have been suspended or expelled at some point in their school careers compared to 20% of Hispanics and 15% of whites.

Effects of Incarceration

A criminal record can reduce the likelihood of a callback or job offer by nearly 50 percent. The negative impact of a criminal record is twice as large for African American applicants. Infectious diseases are highly concentrated in corrections facilities: 15% of jail inmates and 22% of prisoners – compared to 5% of the general population – reported ever having tuberculosis, Hepatitis B and C, HIV/AIDS, or other STDs. In 2012 alone, the United States spent nearly $81 billion on corrections.
Spending on prisons and jails has increased at triple the rate of spending on Pre-K-12 public education in the last thirty years.



your world beginning | catalogs, maps, and memories – final day

your world beginning | catalogs, maps, and memories – final day.

your world beginning | catalogs, maps, and memories – final day

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This is the final video in my 2014 series Your World Disappearing and Your World Beginning. It explores past artistic influences and reflects on the creative process as well. In 2015, I will be starting a series titled “Into Abstraction”. I have not completely thought out the direction of this new series. It may in some form be a continuation of the 2014 series or a new direction with an emphasis on the abstraction of imagery and sound. I want to explore and utilize visually, the micro-tonal effects of the new video software I just purchased. And musically, I want to produce a more distinct electronic sound from my own remixing and editing of sound samples. And again, in addition to the new video software, I will be using a new music editing program to produce the music. This process will be a challenge indeed, and a learning curve over time.

your world beginning | there’s never a dream i need to follow . video remix . piano and waterfalls pt 2 . day 10

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2014 is coming to a close. The major theme has been the two video series entitled “Your World Disappearing” and “Your World Beginning”. I initially created the two series as separate entities, however they have morphed into the same conceptual idea i.e. our lives and the experiences within it are simultaneously disappearing and beginning again and again. There is a merging of the sustainability of the mundane and the wishful aspirations of dreams and a better life. As I worked through the series this year, there was a lot of emotional ambiguity. I have tried to explore the comings and goings of my daily life, and put it into a perspective that negates anything more than what exists in the present moment. However, I can get lost in dreams and desires, the past and memories; believing that there is something significant there. So perhaps the thing that I have discovered is that there is no real disappearing of things or beginning of things just now. The present, mundane, and wishful dreams … inside my head.

Technically the film is a product of several excursions into the process of filming life at home and out in nature. Again, I have used footage from my recent hike along the Graveyard Fields’ trail in North Carolina. Upon reaching the top where the Upper Falls is located, I treaded out among the rocks. I then filmed using a macro (zoom in) setting, the pulsating flow of the falls. It gives the film a lot of its movement in an abstract form. I combined this movement with spatial and ethereal forms as well; fusing the two elements to further the sense of abstraction. These two forms are juxtaposed by the three ‘Transcending the mundane’ clips of life at home; repairing my bike, feeding the cat, and making pasta. The soundtrack continues the theme of “Piano and Waterfalls”. I used samples of field recordings and sublime piano phases to produce a rather delineated and ambiguous sense of being in the moment.

your world beginning | piano and trails – day 9

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Day 9 in “Your World Beginning” is a multi-layered abstraction of landscape and portrait. Filmed in beautiful Haywood County, North Carolina during the Fall, while on the back roads to Waterrock Knob off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is my second video featuring the trail and summit of Waterrock Knob (see the post Maps Mountains and Trails – Day 7). This is the second video using my new Sony software, and I wanted to explore some layering effects with a colored pencil effect as well. And again, I am combining samples of piano and electronic field recordings for the soundtrack. Actually the audio composing, is a very exciting aspect of the video production. Especially when it is within the realm of ambient and electronic composition.

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but Nature’s sources never fail” ~ John Muir

your world beginning | there’s never a dream i need to be

there is never a dream i need to be

an empty room
a distant memory;
everybody has somebody
to leave behind …

there’s never a dream i need to be

your world beginning | there’s never a dream i need to follow

there is never a dream i want to follow

a darkness

ahead; and a winter’s cold night …

there’s never a dream i need to follow,

motivational speakers

coaching seminars

life plans and aspirations

girlfriends or promises …

there’s never a dream i need to be


your world beginning | don’t ask what we should leave behind

don t ask what we should leave behind

your world beginning | in a place of subtle distance

“I love you, so I don’t care what I think of you” – Joan Crawford
… in a place of subtle distance

your world beginning | interstellar: the gravity of love

interstellar the gravity of love

One of the more compelling elements of the film Interstellar is the idea of love transcending both time and space; the ghost that haunts our perception, memories and longings is the love that is ever-present. I felt a very strong connection to this moment in the film as the multidimensional visual construct envelopes the theme of love; emerging from the shadows making it wondrous and transparent. In my own interpretation of this moment I try to bring together the expanse of space, the linear elements of multiple dimensions, and the shadows of perception. One layer in the image contains elements from the piece “In a Place of Subtle Things”(see the post prior to this series). This layer, with its figurative self portraits being immersed in the shadows, represent a somewhat ambiguous connection. And unlike our connection to our one true love or the many loves of an eternal lifetime, they at times seem to remain just beyond our reach. But as the film proposes, love can exist for the duration of timelessness, simultaneously in the past, present, and future.

Like a beautiful diamond that will last forever.

Your World Beginning | Interstellar: The Gravity of Love