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.



into abstraction | form and data | on the edge of everything there is | a moment in time we can never bring back


For viewing in High Definition, select either 720 or 1080 HD in the tool setting icon.

There is so much one can say about the possibilities inherent in the creative process. Do we move definitely in a pre-determined direction (unwavering, specific in structure), or allow our intuition (and the tool itself (in my case, the computer)) to guide us. Perhaps a little bit of both. Creating contradictions, beauty, and ambiguities along the way: Magic and loss while searching through memories. Finding that time does not stand still at all, but evolve and return. A returning ecstasy. And so does a work of art. And so too the recollection inherent to its evolution. My video work is a collection of memories, images, and sounds, purposefully or unconsciously contradicting and re-inventing themselves. Disintegrating into loops of color, texture, movement, geometric form, data, time, and space. I want my work to reflect our internal and external existence; to visually and musically create a sense of things happening all at once.

images for android phones | a portrait in reflection


A Portrait In Reflection continues my focus on images created with Picsart software on an Android phone platform.

images for android phones | a spiral inward | prelude to form and data


We can only be who we are, and at one point that has to be enough.

In delineated dreams, we search for that which is truly us. And find that we are only ourselves ….

Today I continued to work on my latest video piece entitled Into Abstraction | Form and Data. Hence, the mention of it as a prelude in this post. In the creative process there seems to be a continuing presence of form and the collection of data. Form and data that can be found in the complexity of thought, inspiration, and imagination. It propels us and shapes our day around it. Almost as if it has a will of its own. As it most certainly does: Shaping beauty from the shadows of our subconscious and giving light to our conscious ambitions, ideas, ambiguities, and dreams.

into abstraction | form and place | holding our absence | a returning ecstasy


For High Definition viewing select either 720 or 1080 HD in the tool setting icon

“Into Abstraction | Form and Place” continues my exploration of various forms that manifest elements of the surreal, abstract and memory attachments. The piece structure is centered around a time-lapsed progression. It moves from a visual kinetic movement to a slower more meditative movement. The electronic sound scape mirrors this movement with several layers of organic and industrial sounds centered around a continuous ambient drone. Within this complex musical structure, different distinct modalities emerge. And after several minutes of frenetic movement, the sound structure slowly washes away (with ocean waves) into a quieter more delineated infused drone. In each new video in the series “Into Abstraction”, I am attempting to find new ways of manipulating the film software. This process is very satisfying because the possibilities seem endless.

I have been working on this piece for several weeks. And over that time, I found myself contemplating many aspects of my life, as I often do, and searching for visual parallels that may compliment the emotional context of the moment. As in most of my work, I find that I repeat and remix many of my images, sounds, thoughts, and voices. Sometimes I wonder if the emotional connections of the past and the present ever change at all, or just evolve into the future: Evolve into the continuum which is the work. Evolve Into Abstraction, where form and void, form and memories, form and mutation, form and impermanence, form and dreams and form and place become one. Art has a way of giving us a moment of clarity, but does not necessarily save. Our work at times can reveal the life that lives in shadows. But may never quite give us the answers we seek to sustain us. So we are driven to go at it as if there were no history before now.

into abstraction | form and dreams | across the river the city that sleeps with dreams | your world disappearing, a world apart remix

Please select either the 720 or 1080 setting in the tool icon for HD viewing

My latest video in the “Into Abstraction” series, infuses elements of surrealism and is a remix of several images from previous series. The piece also continues the evolving elements of recent images and the examination of memory attachments and the evolution of ambiguity in the psyche. The central theme is dreams; their possessive sensitivity, longing, and their magic and lost. Musically, I have moved away from the “glitch” forms of previous soundtracks in the series, and focused on a more ambient “drone” sound. Again, the complexity of sound is balanced and created with small nuances of processing. Most notably the use of various resonance and pitch, filters, reverb, and overall tonal control.

into abstraction | form and impermanence | what memories and karma may come | a maps, mountains, and trails, remix

For High Definition viewing select the 720 or 1080 setting in the tool icon.

The complexity of the impermanence that fosters ambiguity in our lives. Everything changes except a persistent memory.

into abstraction | form and mutation | a history before now | a life after yesterday

To view in HD select either 720 or 1080 in the tool setting to view in High Definition.

My series “Into Abstraction” continues with the video “Form and Mutation” – “A History Before Now, A Life After Yesterday”. Like the previous videos in this 2015 series, “Into Abstraction” is an exploration of abstract forms, digital processing and kinetic visual constructs. Each video in the series expresses a distinct form of motion and visual perspective. This new piece, “Form and Mutation” is circular in its movement (the two previous videos were linear). And its emphasis is on the emotional sense of life spinning, evolving, and mutating into new forms of expression and ambiguity. In keeping with my overall process of linking one video to the next, I implore many similar effects and visual elements from previous work into each new piece: Subtle nuances and connectivity is important to the elemental construct; with bold shifting colors, fused layers of imagery, and glowing white highlights being an important part of the process. They, along with my personal subjective themes of memory attachments, also play an intricate part of the surreal and abstract expression found in all my work. Musically, I am continuing to create ambient soundscapes mostly from organic and industrial sources, sound samples, and spoken word. This is a multi-layered aural construct. Dense and complex.

into abstraction | form and memories

Please select the 720 or 1080 setting in the tool icon for High Definition.

Into Abstraction | Form and Memories, the artist Walter Smith continues his exploration of field recordings translated into abstract constructs.

into abstraction | form and void

Please select the 720 or 1080 setting in the tool icon to view in High Definition.

The exploration of abstract forms and memory attachments.