Minnesota Street Projects presents And more dogs., an exhibition in three parts by Oakland-based artist Jess Smith. As the show progresses, a narrative unfolds inspired by a live streaming surveillance feed of a “doggie daycare” in San Francisco found on opentopia.com. Opentopia hosts footage from cameras worldwide lacking password protection and allows visitors to create usernames and interface via message board. A dog is viewed in real time online via surveillance, as an online spectator comments on the stream, as Smith looks upon the situation as a whole to produce her project. This situation serves as the inspiration for an expansive film, realized via outsourced services on fiverr.com through character development, script writing, and sound design. It materializes as an environment or live scene in which the three represented parties, the dog, commenter, and artist, are all reimagined in the same physical space: a pet store within a horror film. The use of props such as shopping baskets, paw print decals, a bone shaped welcome mat, resin blood pools, a fake computer, and security surveillance mirror reference the setting as the soundtrack moves through the plot.
Within part I, "Biggest regret in life: no regrets, doesn’t have the capacity to regret." The scene is set as Smith orchestrates a dog “actor” to enter into the daycare that his character, Cooper, had once visited. She presents footage of the pet acting, recorded on opentopia.com, costumed in a Hawaiian bandana representing his role’s “carefree lifestyle” and “love of pineapples”. A pug mannequin dons the costume within the constructed shop environment.
Part II, "Color: yellow Music: Easy Listening Food: Banana Literature: Romance and Folklore," is web based, focusing on the Opentopia message boards. Smith introduces fiction into the site by way of hiring freelance creative writers to play a character based on commenter, Mommie Dearest in Devon, as they too comment on the live streaming feeds. In this act of intervention it is possible both parties, the hired actors and Mommie Dearest herself could converse.
The exhibition concludes with, "Important childhood memory: One christmas she received a paint set and some canvas and a stand. Thats when she fell in love with art." Within this segment, we see the artist, Jess Smith, implicate herself as she plays the role of Jess constructed by the writers. She completes the loop by creating work for the exhibition in Jess’ style revealing the artist.
Jess Smith (b. 1988, Columbus, Ohio) received her MFA from Mills College in 2015 and a BFA in Photography from Ohio State University in 2012. With a special interest in identity construction and entertainment, Smith produces stories entirely outsourced online, based on Internet communities formed around desire. Her work has recently been exhibited at NBD Projects, Southern Exposure, SOMArts, and the Mills College Art Museum in the Bay Area, as well as Wave Pool Gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio.