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Robert Smithson

Learning from New Jersey and Elsewhere

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Ann Reynolds

The MIT Press Cambridge, Massachusetts London, England

Robert Smithson
Learning from New Jersey and Elsewhere

2003 Massachusetts Institute of Technology

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher. Publication of this book has been aided by a grant from the Millard Meiss Publication Fund of the College Art Association. This book was set in FF Scala Sans by Achorn Graphic Services, Inc. Printed and bound in the United States of America. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Reynolds, Ann Morris. Robert Smithson : learning from New Jersey and elsewhere / Ann Reynolds. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-262-18227-0 (hc : alk. paper) 1. Smithson, RobertCriticism and interpretation. 2. Smithson, RobertArchives. I. Smithson, Robert. II. Title. N6537.S6184 R48 2003 700dc21 2002022770 Illustration credits are found on pages 346353.

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Culture as a Way of Seeing PERCEIVING ABSTRACTION

1 13 15 31 45 59 77 79 83 100 123 125 134 163 193 195 205 215

1 2 3 4

The Alogons Abstractions Ambiguities The Lessons of Optical Art Perceptual Enantiomorphs

NEW JERSEY The Crystal Land Perspective: The Metropolis A Guide to the Monuments of Passaic

TRAVEL AS REPETITION A Cartographic Premise The Terminal View Yucatan Is Elsewhere


236 297 346 354


This books existence depends on the intellectual and emotional generosity of individuals from all aspects of my life. First, I would like to thank Rosalind Krauss, my adviser for the earliest version of this study, and the other members of my doctoral committee: Eugene Santomasso, Linda Nochlin, Rose-Carol Washton Long, and Rosemarie Bletter. Nancy Holt offered her time, memories, and commentary during every phase of this project, and I hope this book does justice to her faith in it. Virginia Dwan also gave me invaluable access to her archives and shared her recollections of Smithsons work and thought process. Charles Harrison, Nicholas Mirzoeff, Molly Nesbit, and the other, anonymous readers for MIT Press provided valuable critical readings of the manuscript. Ann Cvetkovich, Eve Andre Larame, and Mary Anne Staniszewski provided indispensable advice and encouragement; they are true and precious friends. Special thanks also to Priscilla Murr and Maria Rubinate for allowing me to listen. My students have been wonderful listeners and critics of this work, and I am particularly grateful to Lori Cavagnaro and Pam Franks, whose intellectual tenacity concerning their own work was inspirational to me during the final stages of writing. A number of other individuals assisted me with research or photographs: Robin Bowman; Michael Duncan; Lee Ewing; Rosalie Fisher; Amy Finkbeiner and Elyse Goldberg at the James Cohan Gallery; Linda Henderson; Wendy Hurlock, Nancy Malloy, and Judy Throm at the Archives of American Art; Anne Kovach at the Virginia Dwan Collection/Dwan Gallery Archives; Uta Kriefall; and Eugenie Tsai. A Gina and Walter Ducloux Fine Arts Faculty Fellowship at the University of Texas at Austin, the Texas Friends of Art History Fund, and the Millard Meiss Publication Fund Committee helped to support the writing and production of this book. I am also grateful to Roger Conover, Deborah Cantor-Adams, Rosemary Winfield, and Tmea Adrin at MIT Press for their support and care in transforming my manuscript into a physical object. The intellectual curiosity, emotional strength, and radiant spirit of my mother, Helen Morris Reynolds, have provided fundamental life models for me. Jonathan Smit made this book possible by committing himself to it in every conceivable way. I have had the rare privilege of living my life with someone who shares his time, intellect, and love without question, a gift impossible to honor in words alone. This book is dedicated to him . . . and to my beloved K.


Although this book is about Robert Smithson, his work, and his working process, it is not a monographic study. I concentrate on a limited number of projects and concepts that I find crucial to understanding Smithsons work as a whole, important to the cultural history of the mid-1960s through the early 1970s, and relevant to present and future visual practice. Many of my choices are not the obvious or traditional ones. I discuss at great length Smithsons early sculpture of 1963 through 1967, which has been somewhat neglected by scholars, and consider only briefly the most well-known work Smithson produced, the Spiral Jetty. The Spiral Jetty and Smithsons other later, large-scale earthworks, however, are implied inevitabilities of many of the projects I do consider. Some of my choices originated with a desire to take a fresh approach to my subject, but as my work progressed, I began to realize that the book had a second focus, history itself or, more specifically, the problem of how to address contemporary art in terms of history. History usually takes a back seat in monographs; it functions as a general framework or set of secondary circumstances that enhance the unfolding of the individual artists life, work, and achievements. In her essay Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?, Linda Nochlin identifies the monograph as one of art historys techniques for celebrating the manifestation of artistic geniusthat atemporal and mysterious power somehow embedded in the person of the Great Artistat the expense of historical specificity.1 In approaching my study of Robert Smithson, my primary concern was not to establish Smithsons importance as an artist or to present a chronological unfolding of his major works. Frankly, I felt comfortable assuming that Smithsons significance as a twentieth-century artist is well established and growing and that his work merits serious consideration. Although Smithsons significance has increased, however, the relation of his work and the work of his close contemporaries to their initial historical context has yet to be articulated or clearly understood. This may be due, in some part, to the way that much of this work continues to feel contemporary even as our relationship to its historical moment grows increasingly distant. Several types of writing on Smithsons work have emerged over the past forty years, each with its own particular historical dimension. There are the interviews or essays undertaken during Smithsons lifetime or retrospectively by individuals who shared a common history with him.2 Then, during the late 1970s, Rosalind Krauss and Craig Owens began to refer to Smithson, among others, when developing a theory of postmodernism.3 This second type of writing provided the earliest descriptions of the theoretical significance of Smithson as a postmodern artist during a historical

moment in the critical reception of structuralist and poststructuralist theory in the United States. A third approach, which has been ongoing since the 1960s, situates Smithsons work within established art historical lineages, narratives, or categories or identifies him as a cofounder of one: earthworks.4 The latter two types of writing rarely articulate the historically specific theoretical or ideological frameworks that inform them except in terms of their own internal genealogies. For example, Craig Owens is often credited with first identifying Smithsons working strategies as postmodern, while the history of the reception of the critical theory necessary to this identification and Smithsons situation within this history are not and have never been addressed. My work engages with each of these approaches by considering the historical dimensionsand limitationsto the arguments they construct. My aim is not to offer the definitive, historically correct Smithson but to propose a way to remain historically conscious when writing about contemporary artists and to reveal the benefits of doing so. I consider what it was possible to discuss in the 1960s and early 1970s, how these discussions and their objects and images looked, and what could be assumed and therefore remain unsaid. I have used Smithson as a test case for how to write such a history. The most important resource for this project has been Smithsons papers and library, which his widow, Nancy Holt, donated to the Archives of American Art in 1987. This archive is the object of my study, and Smithsons library has served as my principal bibliography.5 Its contents, rather than the contents of the Smithson estate, the existing literature on him, or interviews with individuals who knew him, set the primary physical and historical parameters of what I have chosen to consider. There are two reasons for this decision, one simply practical and the other more complicated and methodologically significant. First, Smithsons archive provides an opportunity to conduct extensive historical research on a postwar U.S. artist in a manner that is not yet possible for most of Smithsons contemporaries, since the majority of them are still living and without substantial public archives. The estates of those who are deceased have either imposed cumbersome restrictions on access to their papers or have not consolidated them. Although Smithsons archive as it exists at the Archives of American Art is not complete eithersuch a situation would be impossibleit includes an enormous amount of material. Its large quantity of unpublished materials produced by Smithson renders all of the pre-1988 scholarly literature on the artist incomplete.6 Working with an archive as vast as Smithsons forced me, almost immediately, to consider how to use it. If my approach had been monographic, even initially, I would have focused on the work proper and all of its obvious source materials,


such as preparatory sketches, drafts, models, and cited texts, and disregarded the rest, more than half of the material in the archive. However, I was drawn to these less immediately qualifiable itemsa large variety of magazines, tourist pamphlets, postcards, books, and recordsand I chose to give equal consideration to them, almost from the start. It was this decision that ultimately set me on a different methodological course from others who have written about Smithson.7 When considering Smithsons entire archive, its contents become less unique, less individually specific, since they include images, materials, and a record of activities that were a part of a large number of peoples lives and, consequently, part of a particular period in history that extends well beyond the personal history of the artist or his work.8 When considered as a part of this archive, Smithsons work remains embedded within a broad sampling of its historical context, and it can be more readily recognized as part of this context. Early in my research, I began to notice morphological relationships among a number of things in the archive. My discovery of some of these relationships drove me to look more closely at items that were not initially identifiable as central to the work. I discovered morphological relationships between things that were purely formal, others that were purely structural, and some that were a combination of both. For example, a number of diagrams and textual descriptions in books and other printed materials in Smithsons library share the same formal structure as a number of his own drawings and three-dimensional works (see, for example, figures 1.13, 2.5, and 2.9), even though they do not seem to possess any functional similarities. These and other morphological relationships that I discovered brought eclectic groups of authors, disciplines, concepts, and images together, seemed to confound many of the established narratives for Smithsons work and for the period as a whole, and offered points of reentry into a number of significant historical debates. Comparative morphology and history are usually understood to be unrelated, if not diametrically opposed, analytical methods. The historian Carlo Ginzburg provided me with a healthy response to this problem: Even if typological or formal connections were out of bounds for the historian (as Bloch has maintained), why not analyze them anyway, I asked myself?9 In several books and in numerous essays, Ginzburg uses morphological classifications to reconstruct a series of phenomena which [he] would like to analyze historically.10 As a result, his morphological networks sweep against historys hierarchical and chronological grain and restore apparently negligible phenomena to view. By formally linking such phenomena to other much more familiar or relevant historical material, he proposes a complex type of history



based on cultural circulation between types of knowledgeformal and informal, popular and elitethat is neither hierarchical nor holistic. The questions Ginzburg asks and his morphological approach to archival materials helped me to recognize the conceptual underpinnings of my tendency to pursue morphological relationships among things in Smithsons archive. As the number and variety of items on my lists of these relationships grew, I began to be able to focus on their precise formal, structural, and conceptual points of overlap and finally to identify their shared historical significance. These networks of overlapping morphological relationships provide the historical and conceptual framework for most of my arguments in this book. My decision to adopt a morphological approach was substantiated by my understanding of Robert Smithsons working process, as also revealed by his archive. Although Smithson finished high school, he was essentially an autodidact, and his learning and working processes take a somewhat unorthodox shape. Every item in his archive communicates something, either implicitly or explicitly, about this working process, and after close and extended observation, general patterns of use emerge. These patterns reveal Smithsons own morphological sensibility and, in turn, support my own decision to use morphology as an instrument to move beyond the usual art historical assumptions.11 For instance, Smithson was a prolific writer, and his writings are compelling and complex, filled with references to a wide range of fiction writers, poets, film makers, philosophers, critical theorists, and other artists, whereas most of his drawings and other two- and three-dimensional works, although often equally compelling, can appear to be rather simple and didactic. This apparent disparity in complexity has led to the assumption, often unstated, that the drawings, photographs, and three-dimensional works illustrate Smithsons writings or, worse, are secondary supplements to them. The beauty and visual sophistication of Smithsons mid-1960s drawings and three-dimensional work actually made a number of critics uncomfortable when they saw them in the artists first major museum retrospective in 1980 through 1982 because they had considered both to be black and white diagrams of his ideas.12 This reaction came about partly because little of this work had been seen for ten years; it had been known only through reproductions, which were usually black and white. But it also reflects a general tendency to overlook the significance of the drawings and early three-dimensional work due to an unacknowledged critical bias in favor of the seemingly rarified literary and theoretical apparatus of the writings.13 This emphasis on texts, regardless of the theoretical claims of individual authors, has undermined the profound intertextuality of the work.


The archive provides abundant proof that Smithson based his visual work on complex combinations of images, principles, and methods, compiled from the vast number of texts in his library, which he condensed into deceptively simple but conceptually complex designs. The archive also reveals that Smithson began some of his essays as straightforward narratives to which he then added increasing numbers of borrowed ideas or quotations until the narrative thread was buried under an elaborate collage of analogies. Conversely, he began with assemblies of borrowed ideas or quotations that he worked and reworked until they flowed together as his own words in the final, published versions.14 Once these respective patterns of layering materials from numerous, eclectic sources become clear, any attempt to prioritize one medium over another, even if it is unintentional, seems fundamentally misguided. But, even more important, the logic operating behind Smithsons patterns of working emerges as well. This logic is based on morphological classifications. Smithson combines things and ideas to reveal fundamental formal and structural connections between reading and viewing and between categories of thought and images that remain invisible to established hierarchies of interpretation. Smithson intends for all aspects of his workstraightforward and oblique, popular and philosophicalto be appreciated and made sense of collectively in terms of their paradoxical formal and structural similarities. Smithsons ability to construct his work around such deep morphological connections was one of his most impressive skills. His archive has given me the tools to understand and appreciate this crucial aspect of his work and to recognize relationships between a number of projects that otherwise would not be immediately intelligible. My pursuit of a morphological history reveals Smithsons own morphological strategies within their historical moment for the first time, even if some of my conclusions complement the arguments of others who have considered Smithsons working process. For example, Craig Owenss 1978 essay Photography en abyme contains a brief but insightful discussion of Smithsons photographic strategies.15 Owenss general aim is to problematize photographys assumed relation to the real by defining photography in terms of its own self-referential structure, what he calls en abyme, a literary construct that refers to a narratives internal folding, mirroring, duplication, and reduplication of its images. He illustrates this set of structural terms through some carefully chosen examples, and his argument depends heavily on them as proof. He doesnt connect the photographers either to his interpretations of their images or to the theoretical texts he uses to make those interpretations until the very end of the essay, when he discusses the work of Smithson. And Smithson, unlike



the other photographers whom Owens discusses, is allowed to speak because he does so in a language that is compatible with other individuals Owens cites: Roland Barthes, Roman Jakobson, Claude Lvi-Strauss, and Jacques Derrida. The implication is that Smithsons working practice is informed by structuralist and poststructuralist thought. I could use Smithsons archive to supplement Owenss implicit claim by identifying which authors and which texts Smithson was reading, based on what books and magazines he owned and what was available in English at the time, and thus reconstructing the historical limits and personal idiosyncrasies of his theoretical knowledge.16 But whereas Owenss real interest is in using specific aspects of Smithsons work to construct a larger theoretical argument about photography, I am interested in reconstructing broader aspects of the historical and conceptual field in the United States during the late 1960s, of which structuralist theory was only a part, to reveal how Smithson, and by extension, a number of his contemporaries, worked within this field to produce counterculture. Structuralism and poststructuralism in various guises made up a part of this field, but they were not synonymous with it. Nor were they or their art historical companions, modernism and postmodernism, the key terms of Smithsons practice. In fact, the way in which Smithson and his contemporaries understood and thought about structureand modernismwas fundamentally different from the way Owens understood it or contemporary art historians in general understand it today. Looking at the archive as a whole, rather than just scanning it for source material that I could immediately tie to Smithson or to established art historical narratives or theoretical constructs, has enabled me to recognize these differences and theorys historical dimension. In doing so, I am able to acknowledge the shared theoretical conditions that permit Smithson, Owens, and me to speak about structure, reduplication, and mirroring, but I can at the same time remain aware of the differences in our working methods, based on our historical relation to the theories, including structuralism and poststructuralism, that inform us.17 What follows is my reconstruction of four key trajectories of Smithsons working process. Each of these trajectories embodies a historically specific set of conditions and debates, which I articulate through a set of morphological relationships discovered in Smithsons archive. The year 1966 provides a shared point of temporal reference for three of the four by marking the beginning, middle, or end point for a set of overlapping discussions, which span a six-year period from 1963 to 1969. Although brief in terms of chronological time, these years were extremely productive for Smithson. He developed most of his basic working principles and formats during the first


three years of this period. All of these principles and formats consist of overlapping visual and conceptual elements, modified by a variety of adjectives and combined in a number of different relationships to each other but ultimately drawn from a relatively stable set. Thus none of the principles and formats based on this set of elements can be considered in isolation or in terms of a strictly progressive model. They are all willfully entangled. Smithson moves round and round them until they accrue extremely dense meanings. Thus, in each section of the book, I also move round and round these principles and formats to build an appropriate analysis. In late 1969 and early 1970, Dennis Wheeler conducted a series of lengthy interviews with Smithson.18 As the two men talked, they sifted through a significant amount of diverse materials that became part of Smithsons archive, and Smithson produced the drawing A Surd View for an Afternoon (see figure 3.37). Their conversations and the drawing divulge much more than information about Smithsons work and ideas; they provide detailed diagrams of his thought at a particular moment in time, which became the basis for my analysis of some of Smithsons late works in the fourth chapter of the book. The four trajectories I choose to articulateand Smithsons work in generalalso share a physical and conceptual reference point, the 1965 work Enantiomorphic Chambers (see figure 1.24). This work is emblematic of Smithsons desire to reveal what I call enantiomorphic situations.19 Enantiomorphic describes a mirror-image relationship between things that are alike in all other respects, the most common example being the relationship between the right and left hands. The enantiomorphs in Smithsons Enantiomorphic Chambers consist of two mirrored chambers. When observers stand in front of these paired chambers, their gaze is not met by the expected reflections because the internal exchange of reflections and counterreflections generated by the enantiomorphically configured mirrors cancels out the central, illusionistic plane of focus by directing the focal point of each eye outward, in the opposite direction from the other eye. Such an experience creates a blind spot at the center of vision. Enantiomorphic construction literally, and by extension, metaphorically, allows Smithson to reveal the blind spots or enantiomorphic situations embedded within a number of historically contemporary models of perception. These models are usually binary in structure, but their oppositional terms are really just mirror images of one anotherenantiomorphswith a shared blind spot, a set of hidden assumptions. In each chapter of my book, I focus on the enantiomorphic situations Smithson seeks to expose and dismantle in descriptions of the perception of abstraction, the metropolis, space and time travel, nature, and psychological and



sexual disorders. These situations are also the points at which his work most clearly participates in historically specific debates. I begin my introduction and each of the four chapters of the book with an extended analysis of an individual project or a limited group of works. This strategy might try the readers patience, but clearing my interpretative space of as many established art historical narratives as possible allows my arguments to emerge from looking at the work and reveals the way Smithson considered and then directed the experience of the work through sketches, photography, and exhibition design. Little of the published writing on Smithson interacts with the work in this way, and many of the works I focus on have been paid scant attention in the existing literature. From this analysis, I move to one or more contextual historical moments that I elicit from morphological relationships suggested both by the archive and by Smithsons own morphological excursions. The final section of each chapter brings together the preceding visual and historical arguments to focus on another aspect of Smithsons work and the enantiomorphic situation it embodies. Rather than seeking to be comprehensive either in terms of addressing Smithsons work or the historical moment it was a part of, my intention is to propose through my working method a broader spectrum of possibilities for where and how to look when writing a history of contemporary art. My goal throughout has been to understand Smithsons working method, its historical terms or limits, and its potential to be useful again, under different historical conditions and in different hands.


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[He] is a recorder, not a maker. But to be a poet is to make. Such skill and tact as his argue a genuine vocation for poetry, but they are not enough. They do not promise enough by themselves. The poet also needs culture. He must leave New Jersey. clement greenberg Has Passaic replaced Rome as The Eternal City? robert smithson My generation, your generation, we have been marked by the sign of travel. jonas mekas

A Life cover from 28 July 1967 evokes that long, hot summer of racial conflict with an image of the twisted body of a black child. He lies in the street, his face hidden in shadow and his unseen wound staining the dark pavement. His left arm juts unnaturally above his shoulder blade, and his small hands rest beside his chest, their pale palms turned awkwardly toward the camera. The image is simple, stark, but somewhat ambiguous. If not for the small caption to the left of the image that indicates that the boy has a nonfatal gunshot wound, one might assume that he is dead, a victim of what the magazines headline calls Newark: The Predictable Insurrection. Robert Smithson scrawled the phrase Primary Structures across the cover of his copy of this Life magazine with a black felt-tipped pen. The caption Smithson imposes on the image of the boy could be interpreted as a direct response to the images political implicationsthat the depressed inner cities of the metropolitan United States, ethnic struggle, and violence are the results or emblems of primary contemporary social and economic structures.1 Smithsons archive contains many such pieces of evidence that link him to specific historical events. But tacit conclusions as to what these links convey about him or his art can be deceiving. To discover what Smithson actually did with these documents and images, rather than what they appear to express as isolated things, one has to reconstruct Smithsons patterns of use. For example, as a regular subscriber to a wide variety of magazines and journals, Smithson did what many subscribers do when their monthly or weekly issues pile up: he sorted through them and saved all or parts of particular issues that interested him, often noting why he was keeping them by quickly jotting down the title or subject of a specific article on their covers. The handwritten message on Smithsons July 1967 issue of Life is the result of such a routine ordering practice: his caption refers to an article in the magazine on the 1966 Primary Structures exhibition that included his work. Inhibitions that might hold in check a temptation to write over an image that is unique rarely apply to disposable, mass-produced images. In addition, an ambiguous image, such as Lifes photograph of the boy, invites interpretation or even misreading and for the images absorption into any number of systems.2 An investigation of activities such as writing over and recirculating images according to personal or established art-world ordering systems can reveal significant blind spots in what otherwise appear to be routine practices of consumption. To write such an unrelated message on top of such a powerful and yet ambiguous image, Smithson had to see the image as merely a convenient surface to write on. The title and date of the publication are important to his personal archive, but he appears to be blind to the image

beneath his notation since it plays no role in his decision to keep the magazine cover. Neither does it play a part in his or the art-worlds ordering system. Smithsons apparent indifference to the independent significance of the photograph of the boy on the cover of Life is not necessarily surprising. None of his visual work directly addresses historically significant social or political issues in ways that my first reading of the phrase Primary Structures suggests. Yet this does not mean that nothing can be learned from Smithsons seeming disregard for the Life image, beyond the fact that he was accustomed to writing over images. The tension between his routine action and the historically specific, visually jolting photograph, and by extension between the history of the primary structures of the art world that Smithson documents here and the documentation of contemporary street violence on this cover of Life magazine, is undeniable regardless of whether or not Smithson recognized it in 1967 or later.3 Routine practices such as sorting and filing magazines are generally considered to be part of the monotonous backdrop to the significant or singular events of history. Yet these practices, usually associated with consumption, can conceal the purloined letter of history itself. Michel de Certeau, Henri Lefebvre, and other theorists of the everyday have argued that activities such as reading, eating, dressing, walking, or organizing files do not simply mirror production but can be self-consciously creative and even subversive re-productive practices since they are negotiated by individuals.4 De Certeau notes that the material residue of these activities indicate[s] a social historicity in which systems of representations or processes of fabrication no longer appear only as normative frameworks but also as tools manipulated by users.5 Even though Smithsons Life magazine cover probably does not reflect self-conscious creativity, it does indicate, like so many other things in his archive, re-productive practices and a social historicity for his personal activities and for the art world at large.

As early as 1959, Smithson did appreciate the social and perhaps the political precariousness of his own position as an artist working in an area of New York prone to street violence and general social chaos. In a letter to Nancy Holt, he vividly lays out the formal and social contradictions of his life circumstances in terms one might associate in retrospect with the early stages of urban gentrification of lower Manhattan: Im living in a new place. A newly renovated studiodoesnt that sound Chic? Yes, its lovely, perfect for the partytile floorsnew white pure white walls & ceilingon 6th


ave & 23rd St. Its sort of in the hinterlands between the Garment district and the Village. My mad roommate is still with meN.Y.C. in the summer is curious and deadly. This was my first season without a vacation. Nothing but hanging around fitting pieces together both Psychic and Otherwise. I pulled many paintings out of that caved-in atmosphere on the Lower East Side. Murder-Milesays the tabloids. The deserted houses on our street looked like the plague swept through them; windows would break every minute; on the pavement was a big sign that said: DRAGONS The Blacks and Spics are wiping out the Jews. Some kid got his nose shot off. Furniture always burning in the streets. Phils typewriter was stolen. The water stopped running. Bee Bees would shoot through our windowsthe sound of breaking glass was everywhere. So goes life in the lower depths. My paintings are Posters from Hell. . . . how glorious if you know what I meanwell, lets hope you know what I mean, because I dont know what I mean3 cheers for a Meaning.6 Here Smithson acknowledges a number of elements from overlapping systems of social classificationrace, class, lifestylerubbing up against each another to produce unavoidable, unambiguous tensions. And as a young, unknown artist with few financial resources, he was a part of the mix as he struggled to move out of such a tenuous, peripheral status and into the art worlds centers.7 By the late 1950s, the contemporary art world had an acknowledged geographical centerNew York Cityand designated sites of production and circulationselected studios and lofts, art magazines, galleries, and museumsthat were located mostly within this center. Areas that were outside of the new white pure white walls & ceiling[s] of artists studios, exhibition spaces, and the pages of the art magazinesoutside, in other words, of Manhattanwere considered the true elsewheres of this world, literal blind spots in the cultural gaze. But, ironically, just as consensus on the status of these white centers was building, the implicit and accompanying assumption that culture was equivalent to a particular placeNew York, Chicago, Los Angelesor to particular spaces within these urban areas seemed increasingly untenable. This sense of the selected locality of culture became increasingly destabilized because of the major political and social events of the 1960sthe ongoing civil rights movement and the rise of the womens movement and the black power movement, riots in cities like Detroit and Newark, the escalation of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam conflict and the ensuing antiwar protests, student uprisings on college campuses, and organized challenges to the policies of major art-world institutions by artists themselves, to cite just the major ones. Artists crossed more

and more boundaries. They questioned where their subjects were or should be located as well as what they looked like. In other words, culture was increasingly acknowledged to be a site as well as a sight.8 At first glance, the pop-art versus high-art debates seem to initiate this questioning of boundaries in the 1960s, but even during the early part of the decade, the questioning process was, in fact, much more complex and comprehensive than the issues raised by pop alone. A limited set of terms like pop or anti-art have now outlasted their original, more multifaceted, contextual roles in this larger questioning process and become signs of an almost gratuitous acknowledgment of this early and crucial period of critical differentiation. Before they became categories of art, such terms referred to categories of experience that were the subjects of intense cultural debates that comprised not simply differences of aesthetic or artistic practice but issues of class as well. Such categories were not understood to be strictly synonymous with specific classes, but they were understood in terms of class and thus inflected the ways critics spoke about artists, their backgrounds, and their work during the decade.9 Discussions of the location or site of culture occurred early on, and these discussions were generated from a broad spectrum of positions. Correspondingly, the structure of these debates wasnt simply binaryhigh versus low, inside versus outside, good versus bad.10 Middle terms and shared historical conditions of production and circulation facilitated these debates. These terms and conditions, unlike the major historical events mentioned earlier, now may seem too mundane to be considered significant. One such shared condition was the print media. It facilitated the circulation of ideas and images to an audience not necessarily limited by geography or social circumstances. It provided commentary on activities occurring at the centers and elsewheres of the cultural landscape. And because, for many readers and writers, the printed word and image comprised their only experience of such activities, distinctions between commentary and the thing itself became increasingly difficult to make. Magazines in general, and the art magazine in particular, also became one of the sites of culturemagazine culturethat artists began to investigate; this domain was not precisely coterminous with the art world proper. Travel, specifically the ubiquitous postwar road trip, was a second shared condition that made the questioning of cultures location possible. Travel involves physical circulation, but, more important, travel depends on seemingly innocuous but essential interventions between viewers and environments. These interventions are always mediated by numerous conventions since the disparities between home and


away, on-site experience and printed or photographed interpretation, are simply too great for any one representational convention to reconcile. These conventions and the concrete experiences of travel do not readily translate into one another, and different conventional systems require educated leaps of understanding and the ability to translate one set of representations into another. A yellow star on a road map, for example, indicates a capital city under the terms established by a maps legend or key, while the city itself is neither star-shaped or yellow but the capital all the same.11 Among the objects collected, photographs taken, maps folded, and guidebooks creased in efforts at understanding a place, a time, or an experience, decisions have to be made about what to use. The traveler constructs an archive whose order and completeness depend on personal preoccupations, no matter how generic the contents. Robert Smithson was such a traveler all his life. As a child, he determined where and how his family spent their vacations by marking out routes on road maps that passed through national parks and historic sites. His father liked to drive, his mother liked to ride anywhere, and Smithson provided them with destinations.12 Afterward, he recounted his adventures to his classmates while they viewed the postcards he had collected through a hole in a little booth that he had made himself.13 As an adult, his road trips followed a similar pattern. His archives contain various types of maps, cheap tourist brochures, snapshots, and glossy postcards for almost every trip or project he undertook. In collective terms, these items are neither rare nor special, but if one reads the texts and analyzes the images individually, they show signs of careful consideration and use. Books, magazines, and pamphlets lack many of their original illustrations, lines of red or blue ink highlight selected passages, and diagrams and maps contain hand-numbered locations or are overlaid with geometric designs. Spread out on a table, these individual snippets make little or no sense as sources or even as categories of information. They must be gathered together again into an ordered system, captions with images and maps with keys, to retrieve meanings that will be useful to someone else. By pulling apart his books, magazines, pamphlets, and maps, Smithson reduces these bits of text, maps, and photographs to their original status as a collection of images and descriptions scattered on some graphic designers paste-up board. At some point they were fitted into a format that could be understood by an audience of tourists whose expectations seem to be satisfied by a conventional series of statements: Here is a guide to somewhere, use the map to locate your position, note these particular sites and why they are important, see how beautiful or interesting they look, and enjoy this experience now and later when you return home.

As each aspect of a travelers experience is shuffled into a cohesive order by the anonymous but personable voice of the travel guide, a new place begins to appear less chaotic. Such ordering does more than record or document a place; it constructs it as an experience. Travel guides and postcards cue the traveler to recognizable values and procedures, so that a new place can be understood and assimilated in familiar ways. A rhythm of absorption develops, dependent on visual and verbal cues located by the tour guide in the place itself. Finding these cues leads to understanding and appreciation. Thus the unfamiliar place is made to answer to the expectations of the traveler, whose expectations in turn have been shaped by the tour guide. When Smithson destroys the official order of the travel materials in his files and then rearranges them to make his own work, he challenges the apparently easy correlation between description and place and the appearance of each fragment as innocent information. He dismisses the ordered prescriptions of the tour guide and starts again. In doing so, he renders normative frameworks into tools manipulated by a userthat user being himself. Smithson and the tour guide can never simply record in a neutral and impartial fashion; they always create a cultural experience through the active consumption of the conventions of travel.14 Smithsons trips werent solely an outgrowth of his childhood family vacations. Jack Kerouacs On the Road defined the road trip for a generation during the late 1950s and into the 1960s. Smithson took several trips across the United States and Mexico in 1957 and 1958. He later identified his excursions as a significant part of his generations experience: It was the period of the beat generation. When I got back On the Road was out, and all those people were around, you know Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, both of whom I met.15 Travel became a popular literary device because it provided opportunities for self-consciousness. It offered the ideal conditions for individual independence and, at the same time, submersion in the collective effect of the already familiar images of American mass culture clustering along the highway, singing over the radio, and flashing across the television screen. Artists and writers were not alone in recognizing the importance of highway culture and considering what it might mean: Ad-men, media critics, perceptual psychologists, political and social scientists, journalists, cultural critics, architects, advocates of urban renewal, and many others analyzed this paradox with unmitigated fascination.16 All acknowledged a new kind of viewer who carried around multiple personal visual skills and who was connected to a mass-media pipeline that fed a vast array of visual imagery to an international audience. But while the imagery may have been shared, the ways of reading it were not. The uniform, seemingly neutral voice of the tour guide necessarily gave way to visual multiplicities, difficulties, and unexpected responses.


New York film culture, which included underground film (what Jonas Mekas and others called home movies), art film, and B-pictures, was a third condition that, although not as widely shared as print media or travel, frequently provided a lens through which to view both.17 Often a product of the road trip, sometimes culturally transgressive, these films, their makers, and their transient or art-house venues and audiences defined a subculture of overlapping interests that surfaced in magazine culture frequently enough to be acknowledged, written about, and increasingly circulated to broader, more mainstream audiences during the 1960s, usually as evidence of alternative lifestylesthe downtown art scene, the European left, biker culture, beat culture, gay culture.18 But this film culture and its communities represented much more than a set of bohemian social and political activities or wardrobe choices. Jack Smiths Flaming Creatures, the films of Roger Corman, Jean-Luc Godard, and Andy Warhol fashion and refashion images of members of these communities for their respective constituents private consumption and as a form of masquerade or social critique for a mass audience. Although this culture rarely makes an appearance in histories of 1960s visual art, except as an aside, it was central to defining the terms of the New York art world and its various communities, both socially and culturally. Vision itself changed during the 1960s, not only in terms of how the world looked or what it was possible to see, but in terms of visions importance to understanding in general. Many artists of Smithsons generation felt compelled to address this new culture of the visual and its attendant challenges to received perceptual models. This culture was not tied to a particular place or a particular set of officially sanctioned images or media but grew out of the visual and verbal tension between conventional modes of perception and methods of describing them, and new or unfamiliar modes of perception, environments, situations, or personal experiences that could not be contained by these conventions.19 Over and over again, Smithson and others exploited and explored these tensions by creating work that precipitated encounters between the viewers conventional expectations and unconventional visual conditions. In doing so, they participated on a deep structural level in significant debates concerning perception and the dynamics of this new culture.

The poet William Carlos Williams perceived the paradoxical qualities of everyday modern life earlier than most. And he understood that he did not have to travel far from home to experience it. In a dry and seemingly direct manner, he revealed how famil-

iarity does not always satisfy expectation and how description can fail to produce a particular, expected effect. The opening paragraph of his short story Life Along the Passaic River demonstrates how this vision unfolds: About noon of a muggy July day, a spot of a canoe filled by the small boy who no doubt made it, lies west of the new 3rd St. Bridge between Passaic and Wallington, midstream opposite the Manhattan Rubber Co.s red brick and concrete power plant. Theres a sound of work going on there, and a jet of water spouts from a pipe at the foundation level below the factory onto the rivers narrow mud bank which it has channeled making a way for itself into the brown water of the two hundred foot wide stream. The boy is drifting with the current but paddling a little also toward a couple of kids in bathing suits and a young man in his shirt sleeves, lying on what looks to be grass but is probably weeds across the river at the edge of an empty lot where they dumped ashes some years ago, watching him. These youngsters who make boats out of barrel hoops and a piece of old duck, wherever they find it, live by the river these hot summer days. Its a godsend to them.20 Williams selects a familiar image of rural Americayoung boys lazily floating along a river in crafts of their own designdescribed by Mark Twain and exploited over and over by popular illustrators such as Norman Rockwell and by advertisers seeking to mine this image of American innocence. Then, through visual operations that are almost cinematic in effect, he contextualizes this pastoral image within a wider pan of the river and a telephoto scanning of its banks. Assumptions about what should be a rural setting give way to an urban, industrial environment, and grass becomes weeds bordering the edges of an incinerator dump. Significantly, Williams accomplishes this contextualization through a flat, uninflected description of what he sees in front of him; explicit commentary comes only at the last instant. Following his own dictum, there are no ideas but in things, he not only contradicts expectations of simple sentimentality but also locates tragedy worthy of high art through the way he contextualizes his image, the way he sees, and the visual politics it implies.21 By overlaying different visual frames of reference, Williams reveals that things are and yet are not equal to the conventions through which they are described and that traditional cultural icons or categories can traffic with the elements of any specific place to find a local cultural assertion . . . art in the local condition.22 In fact, a sense of tragedy is produced through a disappointment of the viewers expectations surrounding the conventional pastoral image. This crush of disillusionment heightens all the more the readers realization that things are not what they initially appear to be.


William Carlos Williams impressed Robert Smithson from an early age. He was the artists pediatrician, and they met briefly again in 1959. Beyond incidents of personal biography, their shared New Jersey backgrounds, which Smithson became aware of through Williamss poetry, brought them together as artists: I guess the Paterson area is where I had a lot of my contact with quarries and I think that is somewhat embedded in my psyche. As a kid I used to go and prowl around all those quarries. And of course, they figured strongly in Paterson. When I read the poems I was interested in that, especially this one part of Paterson where it showed all the strata levels under Paterson. Sort of a proto-conceptual art, you might say. Later on I wrote an article for Artforum on Passaic which is a city on the Passaic River south of Paterson. In a way I think it reflects that whole area. Williams did have a sense of that kind of New Jersey landscape.23 Smithson also called his Passaic article a kind of appendix to William Carlos Williamss poem Paterson, since both come out of that kind of New Jersey ambience where everything is chewed up, a historical and cultural junk heap.24 Williams provided Smithson with a valuable road map through the cultural and social complexities of this New Jersey landscape and beyond. And sometime around 1966, it seems that Smithson began to use that map to consider a landscape that supposedly existed outside the boundaries of culture imposed by the New Yorkcentered art world. Later Nancy Holt described this change in both Smithson and herself as an increasingly self-conscious process of reconnecting with the essential aspects of ourselves and our pasts, our culture, and not accepting the secondary, imposed culture.25 Unlike Clement Greenberg, Williams and eventually Smithson believed that culture was not a destination beyond the landscape of New Jersey but was waiting to be discovered by the traveler anywhere, elsewhere, or even at home.

Robert Smithson in Mexico, 1969.

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Cincinnatus was opaque. Sometimes, in the midst of a sudden silence, the teacher, in chagrined perplexity, would gather up all the reserves of skin around his eyes, gaze at him for a long while, and finally say: What is wrong with you, Cincinnatus? Then Cincinnatus would take hold of himself, and, clutching his own self to his breast, would remove that self to a safe place. . . . [He] would turn this way and that, trying to catch the rays, trying in desperate haste to stand in such a way as to seem translucent. Those around him understood each other at the first word, since they had no words that would end in an unexpected way, perhaps in some archaic letter, an upsilamba, becoming a bird or a catapult with wondrous consequences. vladimir nabokov, INVITATION TO A BEHEADING Sightings fall like heavy objects from ones eyes. Sight becomes devoid of sense, or the sight is there but the sense is unavailable. Many try to hide this perceptual falling out by calling it abstract. Abstraction is everybodys zero but nobodys nought. robert smithson, some void thoughts on museums

FIGURE 1.1 Robert Smithson, sketchbook page, n.d.

The Alogons Sometime during the 1960s, Smithson started a small spiral notebook with a simple ink sketch of two stepped forms situated in front of a rectangular shape (figure 1.1).1 The two forms face each other on the page, and Smithson renders them both from the same, slightly oblique point of view. The two forms appear to be almost identical; because of their simplicity and their positions relative to a shared viewpoint, one can infer that the invisible aspects of one form correspond to the visible aspects of the other and that information gathered from any other viewpoint would be consistent with that offered by the one that Smithson chooses. The viewers confidence in such a reading is also supported by the fact that Smithson positions the stepped forms as mirror images of one another. In fact, the rectangular shape behind the two forms suggests that they could be two halves of the same three-dimensional rectangle. Thus, even though the two stepped forms in Smithsons sketch are not literally transparent or even translucent, nothing about themtheir relative shapes, sizes, or positions in spaceis unclear or hidden from view. The unified structure of the sketch renders all of these qualities visually logical and conceptually transparent.2 In a subsequent series of related sketches, Smithson continues to use a rectangular shape as a frame behind which he carves deep, illusionistically threedimensional spaces based on one-point perspective or as a wall from which he projects three-dimensional forms loosely based on two-point perspective orthogonals (figure 1.2). Both types of images are articulated by stepped forms and are conceptually or literally transparent. Scattered between these sketches Smithson includes several images of floating, receding geometric planes, but a few pages later the rectangular shape reasserts itself, now clearly as a room, with similar geometric planes rushing outward from its centrally placed back wall (figure 1.3). In the final sketch in the series (figure 1.4), Smithson eliminates any distinctions between the geometric forms and the walls, floor, and ceiling of the room by fusing them into a densely gridded receding space. The forms now generate the spaces they occupy. A clear depiction of an illusionistically rendered three-dimensional space and the forms that occupy it transpires on a two-dimensional surface because of the literal or conceptual transparency of the individual forms and their conformation to the dictates of one-point perspective. One sees through or into the illusionistically rendered space of the sketch because the means of rendering this space and the forms that occupy it are transparent to their illusionistic ends. Everything is visually logical, a perfect fit. On their own, these notebook sketches and the issues they address might be attributed to a number of different artists working in the 1960s. Yet Smithson did



FIGURE 1.2 Robert Smithson, sketchbook page, n.d.

FIGURE 1.3 Robert Smithson, sketchbook page, n.d.

FIGURE 1.4 Robert Smithson, sketchbook page, n.d.


not create them to be viewed on their own or to be viewed publicly. In these respects, the sketches have nothing in common with his more signature finished drawings, which, even if related to specific projects, were often executed after the fact, were usually signed and dated, were exhibited during Smithsons lifetime, and continue to be included in exhibitions since his death.3 The notebook sketches represent a significant but relatively invisible aspect of Smithsons working process and therefore need to be considered as a part of this process in order to be understood. In 1966 and 1967, Smithson produced a series of multiple-unit, threedimensional works, which he called Alogons, that possibly began with these notebook sketches. At least, Smithson made the sketches with the Alogon series in mind. The designs for all of the Alogons are based on some variation of the same basic forms Smithson uses in the sketches. Alogon and Alogon #3 (figures 1.5 and 1.6), for example, consist of a series of three-dimensional step forms that are similar to the two forms in the first notebook sketch. When considered together, however, the illusionistic worlds of harmonious three-dimensional forms and spaces that Smithson creates in the sketches also provide an illuminating counterpoint to their three-dimensional counterpartsthe sculpture and its spaces of exhibition. The specific terms of this counterpoint emerge through the numerous ways that Smithson directed the Alogons to be photographed in preparation for his first one-person exhibition at Dwan Gallery in 1966. These photographs reveal the terms of the stepped forms transformation from two-dimensional illusions of three-dimensional objects in rendered space into three-dimensional sculptures occupying actual space. This transformation process is not a smooth one, and viewing the sketches, photographs, and sculpture in relation to one another renders visible the gaps. Smithson was in the habit of photographing or having others photograph his sculpture in a variety of arrangements and from a number of different angles.4 Some of the resulting images were intended to be used for publicity purposes or as documentation, but, primarily, they reflect a significant aspect of Smithsons working method, which can be appreciated only by considering the full range of contemporary images taken of any one work.5 Photography is a second, relatively invisible aspect of Smithsons working process, at least in terms of his early, three-dimensional work. Alogon provides a good case study of this practice since the most complete selection of images of this work exists. Some photographic images of Alogon (see figure 1.5) establish a visual harmony between the diminishing size of the works seven stepped units and the receding space of the room in which the work is placed through Smithsons choice of the cameras location and lens angle. Although not every side of each



FIGURE 1.5 Robert Smithson, Alogon, 1966.

FIGURE 1.6 Robert Smithson, Alogon #3, 1967.


individual unit is visible in the photograph, nothing in the image contradicts the assumption that each unit is simply an identical albeit smaller version of the geometric form that precedes it. The three-dimensional totality of this work can be easily understood from the two-dimensional surface of the photograph, just as the totality of the illusionistically rendered images can be understood in the notebook sketches. Yet Smithson is not simply trying with desperate haste, like Cincinnatus, to stand his sculpture in such a way as to make it seem transparent. In reality, he is attempting something quite different. As line drawings, the notebook sketches related to these sculptures have no other side that is out of sight. Even if rendered as solid forms, their adherence to a unified spatial recession or projection determined by linear perspective makes their three-dimensionality both clear and spatially consistent. Smithsons built versions of these sketches, however, are not tied to the illusionistic conventions for rendering three-dimensional images on a two-dimensional surface or to a particular space or spatial arrangement. The individual units in each multiple-unit work can be arranged either in decreasing or increasing order by size so that together they articulate the spatial projection or recession of the notebook sketches regardless of their specific spatial surroundings. By photographing Alogon so that its individual units diminish in size in relation to the recession of the space it occupies, Smithson chooses one of several possible options that are available to him when setting up and photographing the work. And in doing so, he reveals that visual logic and conceptual transparency are illusions that require careful construction. Most of the photographic images of Alogon convey much more ambiguous or even contradictory relationships between the sculpture and the space it occupies. For one photograph (figure 1.7), Smithson removed the work from the wallits usual location when exhibited or photographedand placed it on the floor. To stablize the individual units on the floor, Smithson rotated them ninety degrees. He also reversed the order of the units so that they were lined up in tight succession from smallest to largest. The work then was photographed without direct light and from a low enough angle so that the six steps of the individual units produce overlapping sets of jagged edges that appear to slightly increase in height and width as they recede in space toward a back wall of the gallery. The resulting image is somewhat ambiguous and opaque. For another photograph (figure 1.8), Smithson flipped Alogon so that its stepped units face left instead of right, but maintained the same dimensional progression from smallest to largest unit, even though, in the resulting photograph, the work now occupies a more ambiguous spatial context. Because the physical limits of



FIGURE 1.7 Robert Smithson, Alogon, 1966.

the spacefloor, ceiling, and wallsare out of focus, the work almost appears to float. And Smithson lights the work so that it casts no shadows that would aid the viewer in reading the works precise spacial orientation. The conventions for photographing modern sculpture for reproduction during this period proscribed distracting shadows, backgrounds, or any other indication of spatial context that would distract from the viewers perception of individual works as discrete objects.6 While one intended purpose of these conventions was the production of legible, accurate, and aesthetically pleasing photographic images, such practices were also conceived to affect the viewers comprehension of a three-dimensional object on a two-dimensional photographic plane; a potentially discomforting sense of an unseen side or view was suppressed. Although never a stated goal, the successful suppression of sculptures physical three-dimensionality was assumed to be necessary to the production of a successful photographic reproductionhence the ubiquitous instruction in photography manuals to select one good view. Smithsons flipping of Alogon seems to echo another photographic privilege, the option to flip a photographic negative to reverse the spatial orientation of the image it produces. When eliminating spatial context or flipping his work, Smithson


may be thinking like a photographer, yet in doing so he reveals the limitations of such photographic practices because Alogon cannot be easily or consistently read as a noncontextual or flipped image. Because the space of the photograph (see figure 1.8) is ambiguous, it creates no sense of depth or forward projection on its own. Alogon dictates the spatial terms of the photograph by appearing alternately to project out from the plane of the photograph and then to recede behind it. This constant spatial shifting produces a visually irreconcilable image. Here Smithson has created a perspectival rebus that is similar to the experiments with flipped or reverse perspective produced by a number of painters during this period, particularly Frank Stella and the artists associated with the Park Place Group.7 The final and more conventional question this photographic image begshow can the image appear to project forward or recede in space when the units become increasingly smaller as the distance decreases between the viewer, or in this case the lens of the camera, and the sculpturecan be answered only because the image is obviously a photograph of a three-dimensional object and not an illusionistically rendered two-dimensional image of a threedimensional object. Smithson disrupts visual expectations for illusionistic two-

FIGURE 1.8 Robert Smithson, Alogon, 1966.



dimensional images only to define how visual expectations operate in three dimensions more clearly. Photography, in providing an indexical link between two types of dimensional rendering, acts as the perfect tool for revealing the differences between them. Alogon occupies actual space and therefore does not have to conform either to the terms of illusionistic or even anti-illusionistic space depicted in contemporary painting or to the conventions of an unobtrusive no space present in most contemporary reproductions of sculpture. When reproduced, particularly with text, these photographic images of Alogon (figure 1.9) disrupt the two-dimensional coherence of the page with perceptual conundrums that make the formal and spatial terms of the works depicted difficult to read. The anything but smooth transformation of a threedimensional object into a two-dimensional image is thereby revealed. This is another important point to Smithsons photographic practicehe understood that his sculpture would be experienced by a majority of people through photographic reproductions in magazines, catalogues, and books. What is merely visually ambiguous or perceptually irreconcilable in the Alogon photographs becomes absurd when Alogon is experienced in actual, threedimensional spaces. The work doesnt always cater to established pictorial conventions; why should it conform to the perceptual terms of the actual spaces it occupies? In a 1967 article on perspectival experimentation, Lucy Lippard describes visual ambiguity and absurdity as polar opposites. She credits the former with significance and aesthetic value and links the latter with meaninglessness and artistic failure: Success depends on the degree and intelligence of the ambiguity, which must be relevant to vision as an autonomous phenomenon or to painting as a continually developing means of expression.8 Although Lippards discussion focuses on paintFIGURE 1.9 Robert Smithson, advertisement for his first one-person exhibition at Dwan Gallery, New York, 1966.

ing, she mentions a number of sculptors, including Smithson, whose work deals with perspectival ambiguities. Yet her failure to discuss their sculpture in any detail implies that she assumes that the work of these artists merely extends investigations associated with painting into three dimensions. Such assumptions, typical of many critics writing during the postwar period, hobbled the efforts of artists working in three dimensions to be understood in anything but pictorial terms, even if pictorial terms


were supposedly being pushed to their limits at the time. But it was the other assumption imbedded in Lippards statementthat vision could be an autonomous phenomenonthat Smithson aims to critique in his three-dimensional work by revealing that there is no such thing as autonomous vision. He performs this critique by revealing the experiential differences between two-dimensional images and three-dimensional objects in space. Seeing occurs in relation to spacethe space depicted or occupied by the image or object and the space within which it is viewed. These relationships can be ambiguous and are potentially absurd. This absurdity, however, is not the sign of artistic failure, but a strategy intended to reveal that autonomous vision is nothing more than a myth perpetuated by critical discourse. Smithson meant to generate absurd visual experiences for precisely this reason. Alogon #2 (figure 1.10) consists of ten three-dimensional, stepped, painted steel units of uniformly decreasing or increasing proportions, depending on ones vantage point. It is a floor piece; the stepped sides of each unit meet at right angles to provide a base filled by one, two, and then three descending stepped cubes. Although the idea of a simple repetition of the same geometric configuration on a graduated scale is easy to comprehend conceptually, experientially it is not.9 In fact, encountering the work in any space generates a series of short circuits between ones conceptual sense of the work and ones visual and physical experience of it as one moves around it. These disparities occur in relation to several interrelated aspects of the works design and installation. Smithson called Alogon #2 and his other three-dimensional work from this period examples of solid or three-dimensional perspective, meaning that these works fill in portions of the backward or forward convergence of conventional one- or two-point perspectival orthogonals to present them as solid, three-dimensional objects. But these conventions for describing a visually coherent illusion of a three-dimensional image in space on a two-dimensional surface do not translate satisfactorily into threedimensional objects situated in three-dimensional spaces. Logistical problems immediately arise with regard to the placement and viewing of this sculpture when Smithson actually begins to plan its arrangement within specific spaces. One of these problems can easily be seen by comparing Smithsons spiral notebook sketches of the sculptural forms in space to his sketches of the New York Dwan Gallery floor plan and the possible arrangements of actual works within it.10 In one sketch, which is probably related to his second one-person exhibition at Dwan, Smithson indicates the floor plan of the main gallery space with a dark outline, and traces of several scribbled out areas reveal that he considered several



FIGURE 1.10 Robert Smithson, Alogon #2, 1966.

positions for some of the pieces. But what is most striking is that although the floor plan is an aerial view, Smithson sketches almost all of the individual sculptures in elevation, as they would appear at eye level. Smithson has a difficult time turning the works around in his mind to render them intelligible when seen from above because, in the end, these works are actually not visually or conceptually transparent. From some angles they make no visual sense either individually or in relation to a coherent spatial context. Transparent sculpture not only must consistently answer its viewers gaze with a coherent demonstration of how it occupies space but demonstrate its formal consistency from any point of view. Each side of any one of Smithsons sculptures presents a different, often contradictory image. When viewing works like Alogon #2 in a gallery, the spectator is free to move in any direction and can even look at the piece from a position in which the units increase in size as the distance between them and the viewer increases. Thus the work is solid and often visually opaque. It is pictorially logical from only a limited number of points of view and absurd from all others, even though, as a free-standing, threedimensional object, it encourages the viewer to physically move around it. In this viewing situation, the illusionistic conventions for rendering objects in three-dimensional


space might appear to function as a kind of a gestalt image, which the spectator seeks to discover and then retain. But the experience is not really similar to the experiences generated by the gestalt-based work of Smithsons contemporaries, particularly Robert Morris, or by so-called minimalist work in general, with which Smithsons early sculpture has traditionally been grouped.11 Morriss 1965 Untitled (Three L-Beams) (figure 1.11), for example, consists of several identical, three-dimensional, L-shaped forms, which the artist exhibits in several different positionsupright, inverted, or flat on the floor. Initially, ones visual experience of these individual units of the work is inconsistent with ones preconception of their basic form because of the variety of ways in which each unit occupies space. Although their placement yields changes in ones understanding of their shared form, this is possible only because the form itself remains constant. Morris explains: If the predominant, hieratic nature of the unitary form functions as a constant, all those particularizing relations of scale, proportion, etc., are not thereby canceled. Rather they are bound more cohesively and indivisibly together.12 Smithsons Alogons possess no constant form or gestalt that can be disengaged from their placement in space. Their gestalt, if it can even be called that, is a solid rendering of a fragmentary illusion of three-dimensional space. Different placements and arrangements of the work, as Smithsons photographs demonstrate, result in the dissolution of this gestalt rather than in its coherence. Only one work in Smithsons Alogon series, Plunge (figure 1.12), possesses a set of unitary forms that function as constants. Ironically, these constants are the three invisible, two-dimensional cubes produced by the overlapping of the four graduated, stacked, cube forms within each unit; they remain three, six, and nine inches square for each unit in the series. Therefore, the works gestalt is what one literally can never see.13 A spectators movement around the individual units of Morriss Untitled (Three L-Beams) is encouraged but is not really necessary to a visual understanding of this work. Placement of the units and a resulting awareness of the space around and between them render the perceptual particularities and physical three-dimensionality of each of the constant forms visible, but all of these things can be observed from almost any one point of view.14 Movement only confirms ones initial impression through a dynamic process of adding up individual impressions of the units in space in relation to a unitary gestalt. Morris may claim that it is the viewer who changes the shape constantly by his change in position relative to the work, but it is the exhibition space itself that accommodates both of these changes.15 Thus, even though the individual units in Morriss Untitled (Three L-Beams) or in any of his early geometric sculpture are not physically transparent, nothing about themtheir relative shapes, sizes,



FIGURE 1.11 Robert Morris, Untitled (Three L-Beams), 1969 refabrication of a 1965 original.

or positions in spaceis really hidden from any one point of view. The harmony between their forms and the visual logic of the spaces they occupy eventually render all these qualities conceptually transparent. As stated above, for a viewer of Smithsons Alogons, space is not so accommodating. And the more he or she moves around the work, the more the viewer is subject to the contradictions between the work and the space it occupies. Any logical relationship between the space and the work that might have been granted from one position in the room dissolves into a series of disconnected views that dont add up to anything but increasing perceptual disorder. The work is willfully static and resistant to a spectators movements and to the time he or she invests. As a result, the unfolding of time and of space seem to split apart. The passage of time becomes an experience that is separate from and offers no guarantee of a cumulative experience of space. To make this split and the willful stasis of the object more palpable, Smithson attenuated the space-time gap by rotating the ten units of Plunge ninety degrees four times during the works first public exhibition at Dwan Gallery in November 1966 through January 1967the first time after eight days, the second after nine days, the third after ten days, and the final time after eleven days. This process, which is docu-


FIGURE 1.12 Robert Smithson, Plunge, 1966.

mented in the pamphlet Smithson designed to accompany the exhibition, stretches out and slows down the intervals between his physical alteration of the work and the resulting changes in the works appearance in the gallery, even as his rearrangements maintain a logical perspectival view from the same number of limited vantage points.16 Ironically, these rearrangements dont really alter the perceptual experience of the work even as time passes. One doesnt learn any more about the expanded potential of a constant set of basic forms as in Morriss Untitled (Stadium), a floor piece consisting of eight units that Morris rearranged into different geometric configurations throughout the course of the works exhibition, each rearrangement resulting in a different coherent geometric image. Smithsons rearrangements seem gratuitous, almost a parody intended to reveal the limitations of Morriss efforts to explore serialitys marking of space and time. Collectively, all the experiences of form, space, and time generated by Smithsons Alogons expose the amount of entropy inherent to his chosen system of representation in its culturally specific context, the enclosed white box of the art gallery. The placement of a three-dimensionalized version of a convention used to render illusions of three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional surface into a three-



dimensional space makes no sense. The work and the space dont fit, and the resulting struggle to reconcile the two over time produces palpable energy-drain.17 The specific terms and limitations of the space that the Alogons occupy and of the viewers location in this same space become much more tangible than they do when viewing Morriss Untitled (Three L-Beams), since when viewing the Morris the viewer is asked to become aware of space in generalnot the lack of fit between the works particular three-dimensional representation of space and the specific space it occupies. The Morris doesnt confound the visual logic of the room; it simply introduces it as a variable in viewing the work. Smithsons Alogons are pretty much at odds with the visual logic of the spaces they occupy; for the most part, they appear to belong elsewhere than where they actually are. They are more sight-specific than site-specific, although the specificity of their site produces this sight-specificity.

Smithson didnt confine his sketching to the pages of a proper artists sketchbook or even to the small spiral-bound notebooks he frequently used for both drawing and writing. He sketched wherever he discovered a convenient blank pagethe backs of letters and photographs, end pages of books, and pamphlets. He also drew in the margins or on top of photographs or other types of images printed in books, pamphlets, and magazines. In so doing, he incorporated a wide variety of conceptual material into his working process because in most cases he was translating the concepts and images from the source material into his own conceptual and formal terms. Thus his works are often hybrids in which he has incorporated a number of different concepts and images. Sketches related to the Alogons turn up in a number of places for example, on the blank end pages of Smithsons copies of Helen Fouch Gainess Cryptanalysis and Harry Ashers Experiments in Seeing. The Alogons therefore cannot be considered to be simple manifestations of simple mathematical calculations or threedimensional versions of the perspectival sketches in his spiral notebook. They are attempts to decipher codes, perceptual experiments in which the outcome is more significant than the sum of the sources of their formal terms. Smithson based several of his sculptural designs from this period on one particular set of found images, a simple type of drawing called an alternating perspective figure or an isometric figure. These figures are the perceptual puzzles frequently used in perceptual experiments. Although the figures take a number of forms, all use standard perspectival tricks to create the illusion of two conflicting three-


FIGURE 1.13 Illustrations of alternating perspective figures, in M. D. Vernon, The Psychology of Perception (1962).

dimensional images (figure 1.13). A square appears to thrust forward and then to recede backward, or one side of a cube reads initially as the cubes back and then as its top, or a staircase carries the viewer visually upward and then seems to flip over to represent a cornice or bit of architectural molding, all because of a few well placed lines. Two images can be viewed in such figures since both of these images are based on line drawings that carry none of the typical indications of weight or mass, such as texture or modeling in light or shadow, that would promote one three-dimensional reading over another. Some, like the cube, consist of transparent planes that are articulated by lines that indicate spatial perimeters but do not block them off or anchor them in space. All the lines in the figures are primary; there are no dotted lines to



FIGURE 1.14 Illustration of an alternating perspective figure, in Ronald G. Carraher and Jacqueline B. Thurston, Optical Illusions and the Visual Arts (1966).

suggest invisible edges in a figures three-dimensional image. In other words, everything is visible in these figures; they dont concede either of their three-dimensional aspects. Yet because viewers cannot seem to hold both of these aspects together completely in one view, the figures sustain a constant alternation between competing images. Both the appeal of and frustration caused by the alternating perspective figures lie in their inclusiveness. Temporarily undoing this perceptual rebus is easy since alternating perspective figures are necessarily two-dimensional. This is the only way that they can allude to two different three-dimensional images of space. Smithson simply selects one of the two three-dimensional images from a particular alternating perspective figure and uses it as the formal basis for his design of a three-dimensional sculpture. He was able to alternate between the two images contained in Schrders reversible staircasethe staircase and the corniceby changing the orientation of Alogon, and he based his design of Alogon #2 on a honey-comb figure (figure 1.14). A view of any one unit of Alogon #2 from its stacked cube side reveals how Smithson transformed the two-dimensional alternating perspective figure into a concrete, three-dimensional object by removing the lines and shadings that make the figure illusionistically


shuttle backward and forward when presented on the two-dimensional page.18 Experiencing Alogon #2 in a three-dimensional space, however, produces a new set of irreconcilable images that, like their two-dimensional source, ultimately call attention to their fundamental circumstancesin this case, the actual three-dimensional space that the work occupies and the viewers inability to visually reconcile this space with the works formal appearance. Smithson extends the alternating perspective figures ambiguity into three dimensions, and the resulting experience is no longer strictly pictorial. Through a simple transformation of a perceptual rebus, Smithson challenges visual habits and implicates ambient space in the perceptual process.

Abstractions Ambiguities That ambiguity cannot be seen is a central thesis of E. H. Gombrichs Art and Illusion. . . . Fortunately, the task of challenging Gombrich does not devolve upon me, since Picasso spent his life challenging it. Gombrichs conviction that alternatives cannot be seen in simultaneity is argued on the evidence of trivial diagrams. leo steinberg, the algerian women and picasso at large Numerous individuals who dealt with perception in the early 1960s included a seemingly trivial diagram, the alternating perspective figure, in their arguments. This figures widespread appearance was more than just a coincidence; its presence signaled points where assumptions, usually unacknowledged, about perception overlapped, even in apparently antithetical arguments. As morphological connections, these alternating perspective figures now reveal gaps or blind spots in critical discourse and thus provide a useful point of reentry into a set of significant debates concerning perception and abstract art at some of these telling points of overlap, and provide an important context for Smithsons three-dimensional work. Smithson owned several texts that contain discussions and illustrations of alternating perspective figures. One of his principle sources was the contemporary literature on perceptual psychology. This was also true of many of Smithsons contemporaries who used the alternating perspective figure, or at least the perceptual conditions it describes, in their arguments. One important source for Smithson was M. D. Vernons 1962 text The Psychology of Perception.19 Vernon introduces alternating perspective figures and a number of other perceptual experiments into her discussion of the relationship between attention and perception to determine where the role of



biology ends and education or conditioning begins in the perceptual process, her primary aim being to emphasize the central importance of the latter. She admits that the visual fluctuation that alternating perspective figures provoke and the viewers attempt to overcome it by favoring one illusion over the other in the figures might be due to some as yet undiscovered events in the central nervous system, but she believes that neither can be solely retinal, the result of any form of retinal fatigue.20 She stresses the role of conscious attention, conditioned by instruction, interest, or expectation, in controlling what is seen over purely retinal sensations or gestalt theorys claims for the universality of the good images victory.21 For her, conditioned expectation plays the major part in generating the alternating perspective figures perceptual instability and the viewers methods of resolving it. She demonstrates this point by discussing the perceptual effects of alternating perspective figures in relation to the three-dimensional fusion of retinal disparity in stereoscopic images. A stereoscope viewers binocular mask directs the users eyes to two images of the same object or scene photographed or rendered from two different points in space situated at a distance apart from each other that is roughly equal to the distance between the two eyes. These two images are mounted on a single card attached to a track that extends out in front of the mask. Viewers slide the two side-by-side images closer to or further from their gaze until, at the proper distance, the two images appear to fuse into one to produce the illusion of a single, threedimensional image. Vernon states that while this retinal fusion of the two images may appear to be spontaneous and unlearnt, it is notsince the process that produces it always favors culturally familiar images.22 She offers an example of pairs of photographs presented stereoscopicallya Mexican scene to one eye and an American one to the other, to Mexican and American observers. The Mexican scenes tended to dominate for the Mexican observers, the American ones for the Americans.23 Retinal fusion also occurs more quickly and completely when one views representational images, even if the images are contradictory. If one photograph of a face is placed in front of one eye looking through a stereoscope and the same photograph is placed upside down in front of the other, then the upright image dominates, and the inverted one is sometimes completely suppressed. Abstract stereoscopic images can also produce a coherent threedimensional illusion, but it will be slower and less certain in appearance.24 Vernon explains that we need the familiar clues of unified spatial orientation, context, and content on which visual conditioning has trained us to depend and that perception is facilitated if images satisfy these needs. Abstract images generally lack these clues, and


this lack affects perceptual accuracy. For example, if a tilted abstract circle appears outside of a discernible context, eventually it will be perceived as an ellipse, but if the circle is placed within a specific, spatially coherent setting that allows a viewer to identify it as an object that is traditionally round such as a barrel stay, then the image will be read as a circle seen on end. The abstract circle needs consistent spatial cues to be properly read, yet these spatial clues are purely cultural and in no way essential to perception generally, since, without the cues, the circle is still perceived, just not perceived correctly. Vernons stereoscopic examples demonstrate this important distinction between perceiving what one expects to perceive or feels comfortable perceiving and perceiving what is actually there, and the central role that cultural conditioning plays in the process. The way one perceives, and particularly the way one perceives in space, in illusionistic or actual three-dimensions depends on the presence or absence of cultural conventions, and binocular retinal rivalry or fusion, in spite of their names, can in no way be attributed solely to the biological fact that one has two eyes.25 The paired images in alternating perspective figures are almost always geometric, and they are ostensibly abstract in Vernons sense of the term since the way they occupy space as three-dimensional illusions renders them readable as representationsboxes, staircases, towersand at the same time renders them so unstable as to make their status as representations unstable as well. The spectators difficulty with resolving the visual ambiguities of these figures or the disparate images on a stereoscope card might be compared to his or her difficulties with reading abstract images generally, since many of the latter also lack clues sufficient to repress multiple or contradictory readings. Although Vernon does not make this particular analogy, a number of contemporary art historians and critics not only make the analogy but assume that the structure and perceptual experience of the figures and the structure and perceptual experience of some types of paintings are the same. In his 1960 text Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation, for example, E. H. Gombrich directly links cubisms suspension of illusionistic transformation to an alternating perspective drawing called Thirys figure by illustrating the latter (figure 1.15) and stating that it presents the quintessence of cubism.26 Thirys figure challenges viewers in a manner that is typical of alternating perspective figures; it appears to shuttle back and forth between an illusion of an apparently upright and then an inverted stack or tower. Gombrichs description of the perceptual terms of this process in cubist painting is similar to Vernons discussion of the process of viewing alternating perspective figures: If illusion is due to the



FIGURE 1.15 Thirys figure (upper left), in Ernst Gombrich, Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation (1960).

interaction of clues and the absence of contradictory evidence, the only way to fight its transforming influence is to make the clues contradict each other and to prevent a coherent image of reality from destroying the pattern in the plane. . . . Try as we may to see the guitar or the jug suggested to us as a three-dimensional object and thereby to transform it, we will always come across a contradiction somewhere which compels us to start afresh.27 According to Gombrich, the result of these frequent reversals in Thirys figure is to force our attention to the plane.28 Cubisms ultimate goal is the same: to stamp out ambiguity and to enforce one reading of the picturethat of a man-made construction, a colored canvas.29 In both cases, any hint of illusionistic


three-dimensionality ultimately collapses into a perceptual awareness of what is actually there in two dimensions. In comparing the experience of viewing cubist paintings with Thirys figure, Gombrich not only equates the visual experiences of painting with the visual experience of a diagram; he also identifies the figures design and visual effects as one of several of the artistic conventions that cubists used to undermine illusionism. Gombrich demonstrates that such devices can be traced back to the ancient decorative art of mosaics and recognized in twentieth-century commercial art. The cubists, Gombrich claims, were just the first to exploit these conventions in the high art of painting. Gombrichs entire argument in Art and Illusion depends on the identification of such conventions or what he calls schema. Most of these schema facilitate illusionism, but all of them mitigate the inherent ambiguity of two-dimensional images and of vision itself. Viewers use these schema to interpret images in art and elsewhere by a process of trial and error. Their interpretive process mirrors the artists own making or matching of images, based on established stylistic schema, that create a persuasive illusion of reality as distinct from the ambiguities of actual vision. In describing the artist and the viewers process in this way, Gombrich refutes John Ruskins theory of the innocent eye by proposing a mediating historically and socially variable artistic vision. He bases his analysis of the production and perception of art on the shared artistic schema of the period in which a work of art was produced; not in relation to an assumed, universal perceptual coherence to be found in the natural world and painstakingly transcribed onto canvas by the artist. Gombrich identifies the rise of cubism as the crux in the history of illusionism. Whereas illusionistic art distracts the viewer away from an awareness of ambiguity through the use of cultural schema, cubism, by engaging in a crucial revolt against illusionism, reveals ambiguity to the viewer in order to stamp it out. It succeeds in doing both of these things by implementing conventions, such as the alternating perspective figure, that embrace contradictory illusions and visual ambiguity to defeat both. Abstract or nonfigurative arts ambiguity, according to Gombrich, is quite different. It is overt and unresolvable because there is no possible test by which we can describe which reading to adopt.30 Such art lacks intelligibility or what Gombrich calls the beholders share because it operates in relation to no familiar conventions or schema. The viewers only recourse would be a limited identification with the artists personal creative process, which is an interpretive possibility granted to only a select group of individuals close to the artist. Under such conditions, the



quality of works of art cannot be objectively judged since the criteria used would have to be tailored to the work of each individual artist. In an earlier essay, Gombrich does concede, however, that this art might even gradually build up a framework of conventions like the one which made Western music possible; that system of expectations within which the musician creates, even when he defies it.31 And by clinging to his making and matching formula, Gombrich also concedes in Art and Illusion that nonfigurative art might eventually develop a social function through the development of such a framework of aesthetic conventions: If this game [meaning the reading of nonfigurative art] has a function in our society, it may be that it helps us to humanize the intricate and ugly shapes with which industrial civilization surrounds us. We even learn to see twisted wires or complex machinery as the product of human action. We are trained in a new visual classification.32 Much has been made of Gombrichs avowed dislike of abstract arts ambiguity, and Art and Illusion has often been criticized because Gombrich appears to equate successful art with naturalistic illusionism.33 Yet Gombrich defines ambiguity in a specific manner. He does not use the term to refer to a lack of recognizable subject matter, since the alternating perspective figure, the cubist paintings he describes, and the shapes in abstract art all contain or will at some point contain relatively familiar images: towers, guitars, jugs, twisted wires, etc. Rather, he focuses on how artists render images within schema that can ultimately be recognized by the viewer as coherent and stable or not. Without such schema, a work is overtly ambiguous. According to Gombrich, this ambiguity causes discomfort in the viewer because it is not perceptually sustainable; ambiguity cannot be seen. Gombrich requires that something has to resolve visual ambiguity for perception to occur. Vision requires literal or at least conceptual transparencyone set of unified spacial cluesthat, in the end, cubism provides but abstract art cannot produce. Rather than explicitly stating that this need is biological or inherent to the physical mechanics of seeing itself, Gombrich places this need for resolution in an anchor that holds the viewer in relation to the artists intention so deeply into his understanding of art making and viewing that it can be taken for an a priori condition. His use of the alternating perspective figure as a paradigm of this dilemma indicates an identification between the mechanics of seeing and the dilemmas inherent in viewing art. Therefore, Gombrich seems to suggest that retinal fusion is endemic to perception and is not a culturally conditioned result. Some equivocation occurs here, and one realizes that, for Gombrich, not only is the experience of looking at an alternating perspective figure the same as the experience of look-


ing at a cubist painting, but both experiences reflect the fundamental conditions of perception in general. Clement Greenberg also discusses the perception of abstract art in terms of ambiguity in a number of essays in his 1961 anthology Art and Culture. According to Greenberg, the illusionistic depiction of space, figures, or narratives was one of the primary concerns of pre-modern artists, whereas modernist artists, following cubisms lead, rejected illusionism for varying degrees of abstraction or antiillusionism. This anti-illusionism is a major source of audience estrangement, and Greenberg describes the sense of loss viewers may feel in front of modernist painting as an abrogation of those spatial rights which images used to enjoy back when the painter was obligated to create an illusion of the same kind of space as that in which our bodies move.34 We miss the intermediary terms of this unified illusionistic space its nouns and transitive verbsand not the images of representational art, he claims, and we stumble over unfamiliar spatial language that meets few of our habitual expectations.35 On all of these points, Greenberg and Gombrich appear to be in general agreement, even if they describe the relationship between abstract art and cubism a bit differentlya continuum rather than a distinct breakand the terms they use to describe the viewers visual difficultiesa lack of illusionistic spaces familiar nouns and transitive verbs in contrast to a lack of unified schemaare not precisely the same. Early in his career, Greenberg, like Gombrich, also addresses modern arts rejection of illusion or mimesis and the difficulties this rejection creates for viewers in relation to a broader set of cultural conditions, which he links to the industrial revolution. Before the advent of industrialized civilization, all cultural producers and consumers occupied a specific social or class position, and serious art was destined for a particular audience and a controlled set of social spaces. The industrial revolution upset this order by providing the working classes, or what Greenberg calls the masses, with expanded leisure time and a need for activities to fill it. Although the working class now had greater access to high culture through their new location in or near urban centers, and increasingly public and much more comprehensive modes of cultural consumption, they lacked the visual skills required to comprehend high culture.36 The loss of a distinction between producers and consumers threatened high cultures very existence and resulted in the creation of a debased form of this culture to fill the new needs and spaces of leisure. Greenberg calls this debased cultural form kitsch, and he attributes its popularity to the fact that the viewer recognizes and sees things in [kitsch] the way in



which he recognizes and sees things outside of picturesthere is no discontinuity between art and life, no need to accept a convention.37 Greenberg implies that kitsch offers effortless unreflective enjoyment and that mass spectators seek such passive relaxation, the opposite of work, or more specifically in this case, cultural work at the end of a long work day or work week.38 He argues that the avant-garde artists renunciation of mimesis provides a partial solution to this debased cultural situation by demanding that spectators reflect on the immediate impression left by the plastic values of a particular work rather than merely recognize what is depicted.39 Such demands allow advanced art to remain apart from societys main commercial arenas and unintelligible to those unable to do cultural work and at the same time to continue to be concerned at a distance with the primary intellectual underpinnings of societys modern sensibility.40 Greenberg felt that abstraction was best suited to accomplish this balancing act. Flatness, because of its denial of illusionism, was an appropriate metaphor for modern societys positivism, and simple geometric forms and their implicit economy of means could refer to the rationalized processes of contemporary industry.41 Yet the problem of how an audience would understand and appreciate abstract arts balancing act still existed for the critic: The difficulty remains our failure to relate this high conception of contemporary art to our own lives, our inability to be detached about either art or life, detached and whole as people are who are at home in a world of culture.42 This difficulty arose, in part, because for Greenberg visual habits were learned and therefore, at this point, fairly class-specific. An appreciation of Picasso required training in skills beyond those used in everyday life, skills that could be acquired only by those with sufficient time, not restricted to legislated leisure away from work. Greenberg did remain alert to moments when particular works might successfully break through the limitations of class-specific visual expectations or of existing viewing conditions. He recognized that generating a new kind of audience awareness, particularly for abstraction, depended more on the artists successful reshaping of the conventional formats of picture-making and the spaces within which they were to be viewed than on accomplishing formal revolutions within the confines of the easel picture itself. He admired, for instance, Jean Dubuffets crossing of class lines to give an aesthetic role to the anti-social graffiti of the urban lower classes but acknowledged that high art cannot overcome consumer capitalism merely by trading up its traditional values for styles borrowed from the realm of popular culture as long as it depends on the forms of display dictated by the dominant institutions of art consumption.43


In his later, mostly post-1950 essays, Greenberg increasingly replaces cultural explanations for the advantages and difficulties of abstract art with simple bridges that arch over abstractions complex social and political ramifications. Instead of addressing the issue of visual skills or expectations in terms of class or social location, he attempts to define the relationship between modernist art and its viewers in experiential terms alone. The viewers relationship to abstraction is no longer defined by the social position of the avant-garde or the purity of the art object but by the purity of visual experience itself. Greenberg codified this position regarding abstraction when he collected his writings for publication in 1961 in Art and Culture. The Greenberg of Art and Culture and after was the critic familiar to the 1960s art world and to Smithson.44 For the Greenberg of Art and Culture, modernist art closes the alienating distance between the unfamiliar look of abstraction and the viewers expectations by transforming the language of viewing in terms of spatial experience. The possibility of understanding this new language was available to anyone willing to commit to a new kind of looking. In his essay The New Sculpture, Greenberg bases his argument on a self-imposed rigor that is extremely exclusive. His field of analysis is equivalent to what he can see in front of him. The possibility of occupying such an all-knowing position is, for Greenberg, one of the major achievements of modernist art: The human body is no longer postulated as the agent of space in either pictorial or sculptural art; now it is eyesight alone, and eyesight has more freedom of movement and invention within three dimensions than within two.45 Nor did he want the objects of his gaze to describe a physical three-dimensional form; they should reinforce the visual terms of the spectators experience and not his or her physical circumstances. Thus they should have no corporeality or tactility; these qualities would set off associations that are located outside of purely visual experience. Instead of the illusion of things, he declares, we are now offered the illusion of modalities: namely, that matter is incorporeal, weightless and exists only optically like a mirage.46 Greenberg delivers several of his seminal descriptions of this optical mirage in his essays on cubism. In this way he can underscore his belief that modernist artwhich, in his mind, was becoming increasingly synonymous with pure abstraction and, particularly, modernist sculpturewas a logical continuation and development of the visual and spatial insights of cubism. In Collage, he claims that Braque and Picasso were originally concerned with obtaining sculptural results by strictly nonsculptural means, that is, with finding for every aspect of three-



dimensional vision an explicitly two-dimensional equivalent, regardless of how much verisimilitude might suffer in the process.47 Here he identifies abstractions objective as a compatible description of space, surrounding and encompassing the viewer on all sides and yet visually comprehensive from a single position. For Gombrich, cubism transcends its visual ambiguities by forcing the viewer to give up illusionism altogether and return to what is literally therethe two-dimensional surface of colored canvas. Greenberg proposes a more inclusive alternative. In The New Sculpture he states: To render substance entirely optical, and form, whether pictorial, sculptural or architectural, as an integral part of ambient spacethis brings antiillusionism full circle.48 According to Greenberg, sculpture can function as the great facilitator of an optical solution to audience alienation because its visual language is inherently three-dimensional whether its forms are abstract or representational. It addresses viewers by sharing their space rather than, as with abstract painting, requiring viewers to adjust their expectations of what that space should be.49 In abstract art, threedimensional deception occurs only optically, never pictorially, and then only in painting; sculpture never deceives in this way since it is literally three-dimensional and therefore optical without deception. In Modernist Sculpture, Its Pictorial Past, Greenberg describes cubist paintings transformation of sculpture into an art that was neither pictorialat least not in the accepted sensenor sculptural, neither bas-relief nor monolith, but something for which the only precedent I know of is the open, painted wood carving of northern New Ireland in the South Seas. How this transformation came about, I try to explain in more detail elsewhere. . . . Suffice it to say here that the fates of sculpture and pictorial art seem more closely intertwined at this moment than ever before in historical art.50 Elsewhere refers to Greenbergs description of collages achievement of image representation, particularly the connotations of the threedimensional space in which the objects represented originally existed, without resorting to illusionism, and to The New Sculpture: [sculpture] is now undergoing a transformation, at the hands of painting itself, that seems to promise it new and much larger possibilities of expression.51 So here, even within his neither-nor argument, he is also suggesting a progression or dialectic from anti-pictorial experience to something resembling sculptural experience, and both point beyond to something else. Greenberg describes this something else at various points in Art and Culture. Although he constructs his routes somewhat differently in each case, he arrives at the


same optimal aesthetic experience, which he alternately calls optical literalism, literal illusion, or optical mirage; all of these descriptions depend on visual exclusivity. As he does in linking cubist sculpture to the wood carvings of New Ireland, Greenberg draws on Byzantine art and other historical models for modernisms rejection of pictorial illusionism to neutralize the unfamiliar look of abstraction by placing it within a respectable historical continuum. The fact that Greenberg feels free to call attention to shared visual experiences between the art produced at different historical moments or by different cultures proves that he is no longer concerned with the specific historical habits and circumstances of vision. He now seeks to achieve a normalization of the viewers relationship to abstraction by identifying a return of a former art historical visual effect, although now devoid of its previous content. This strategy, commonly used by U.S. promoters of modernism, ostensibly placates viewers by educating them about formal analogies.52 But Greenberg has a much more specific aim in mind when he establishes his analogies, and they are hardly formal. He justifies the abstract qualities of modernist art by naturalizing their look in terms of what he defines as the essential operations of vision and in terms of an ostensibly honest relationship between what actually exists in front of the viewer and the viewers visual experience. No level of meaning is acknowledged to exist before a primary, visual one, which in turn is naturalized and universalized. We have the illusion of modalities without the untidy experience of illusionism, the social business of reference ostensibly so important to Gombrich. Since the sculpture that Greenberg applauds presents a mirage that is simultaneously a physical reality, the work itself does not elude but just is. The Greenberg of Art and Culture praises modernist art for meeting visions purest and therefore most universal expectations by allowing anti-illusionism to come full circle. Greenbergs arguments in Art and Culture concerning the perceptual experience of modernist art also belong to a larger history that, once recognized, renders the ordering parts and resulting criteria of his argument much less idiosyncratic and arbitrary. When revising his essay Collage for a 1972 reprinting of Art and Culture, Greenberg retrospectively acknowledged the analogies between his own position and Gombrichs by footnoting almost the identical passages on cubism from Art and Illusion that I have cited above.53 He doesnt follow Gombrichs argument all the way to his comparison of cubism and Thirys figure, but he must have recognized enough of his own description in Gombrich to cite him, without comment, at the moment in his text when he describes the way that collages consistently shifting surface points back to its very surfaceness, only by this contrast.54 Although many critics have



recognized that Greenbergs description of optical space derives from his analysis of cubism, they have not considered that his reading of cubism might depend, if only indirectly, on contemporary theories of perception.55 His descriptions of the optical miragethe flickering awareness of the image as both two- and three-dimensional, an anti-illusionresonate with echoes of the perceptual effects of the alternating perspective figure, yet in his version the visual ambiguities have been resolved by collapsing a three-dimensional reality into a two-dimensional illusion.56 Even so, Greenberg describes the experience of looking at modernist sculpture, albeit indirectly, in terms of the visual experience of a diagram.

In his Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy, Michael Baxandall makes a simple distinction between the fifteenth century, when painting was still too important to be left to the painters, and our own late romantic condition, in which painters paint what they think best and then look round for a buyer.57 Contemporary spectators may not participate as directly in the creation of works of art as they did in the fifteenth century, but along with the picture trades necessary assimilation to a more diversified, market-driven economy, the reception process has become a complex negotiation of various different sets of critical expectations. We may now buy our works of art ready-made, but we still do not buy a ready-made way of looking at them; we learn how in ways that were and continue to be fought over. All of the authors I have been discussingVernon, Gombrich, Greenberg, and to some degree even Leo Steinbergdescribe the relationship between viewer and abstract images in terms of perceptual ambiguity. The perception of abstraction is something of a puzzle, akin to the perception of an alternating perspective figure. Therefore, the fact that three of these individuals use alternating perspective figures or descriptions of visual effects that are similar to those produced by these figures to describe and, in some cases, to try to resolve the perceptual ambiguities of abstraction is not just a morphological coincidence. It reveals a shared pedagogical approach to a problem. For each, perception is shaped by education and by the establishment and elaboration of expectations, yet the assumed limits of perception itself set the parameters of these expectations and determine everything that follows. And the conventions used to define these limits are, at times, seen as coterminous with perception itself.


Sight, in itself, had no obligation to sense or non-sense for Robert Smithson. Nor did he feel the need to define abstractions purpose in relation to a particular type of perceptual experience. He was more concerned with revealing the conditions or terms of vision as they were established both by the formal conventions tied to a particular medium and the context within which it was then viewed. As his Alogons demonstrate, these two factors could undermine one another, but again, the frustration the viewer experienced as a result should not be blamed on abstraction. Smithson connected the experience of a sight devoid of sense with a specific contemporary viewing condition, that of the art museum. And since the art museum and what Smithson liked to call its miniature counterpart, the art gallery, were the primary, intended destinations for his work at this moment, the encounter between his work and these spaces was necessarily ambiguous and even tragic. In a drawing entitled The Gallery Interior as a Tragic Site (figure 1.16), Smithson makes an analogy between tragic spaces such as tombs and New York art galleries by arranging hand-rendered floor plans of four midtown galleriesFeigen, Castelli, Dwan, and Stablein two symmetrical rows to call attention to the similarities between their individual layouts as a group and between their layouts and those of Egyptian burial chambers specifically.58 He labels the office and other private areas in each plan chambers or ante-chambers, and he identifies the narrow corridors that connect the two main exhibition spaces in each as blind alleys. The latter term is both a literal description since these corridors have no windows and a punning and ironic reference to the drawings title, The Gallery Interior as a Tragic Site. When sensible sight is the expectation, frustration of this expectation or apparent blindness is truly a tragic sight. In The Museum of the Void (figure 1.17), a drawing from the period 1966 to 1968, Smithson uses stacked, stepped forms, which are similar to those in the spiral notebook sketches, to refer to an architecture of death. Miniature examples of mausoleums, cenotaphs, and pyramids are clustered on top of the museums entrance. The museum itself consists of stacked forms that rush back in space along thickly drawn, orthogonal lines to a heavily penciled black void that signifies not only a visual emptiness or dead end but general visual impenetrability, since the dark area is defined not as a finite black wall but as a thickly penciled opaque surface. Smithson includes a lightly sketched rectangular frame to the right of this museum, which heightens the contrast between void as opacity and void as emptiness. The drawings void and thus the museums void are, for Smithson, equivalent to an infinite visual opacity, a tragic site without sense.



FIGURE 1.16 (right) Robert Smithson, The Gallery Interior as a Tragic Site, n.d. FIGURE 1.17 (above) Robert Smithson, The Museum of the Void, 19661968.


Smithsons 1967 essay, Some Void Thoughts on Museums, echoes his contemporary drawings title and also its sentiments about the kinds of vision the museum promotes.59 In describing a spectators tour through the halls of the art museum, Smithson equates looking at the museums historical anachronisms pictures and statues with perceptual difficulty. And, as in the drawing, this blankness or void is physical, solid, and opaque: Bright colors conceal the abyss that holds the museum together. Everything solid is a bit of clogged air or space. Things flatten and fade. The museum spreads its surfaces everywhere, and becomes an untitled collection of generalizations that immobilize the eye. [A lack of focus is the only certainty.]60 Smithsons Alogons, once positioned in space, produce visual experiences that are similar to those he describes in his essay on the museum: Sightings fall like heavy objects from ones eyes. Sight becomes devoid of sense, or the sight is there, but the sense is unavailable.61 But it is not the abstract form of the works that creates the discomforting gap between viewer and work of art because for Smithson all works exhibited in the deadly spaces of the art museum and gallery slide into opacity. His works exaggerate this condition to render it visible. Thus expectations and certain descriptions of viewing abstraction that are upheld by the institution and, by extension, by contemporary critical discourse set up the spectator for a perceptual fall. Smithson is pointing out this visual situation in his Alogons and his other multiple-unit work from 1966 and 1967 by returning to the scene of the crime and to the illusionistic conditions of linear perspective, which were supposedly defeated by cubism, to upset the viewer all over again. Rather than seeking to make an art that reconciles the viewer to an experience of abstraction, Smithson uses abstraction to reveal to viewers the gap or void in the recidivistic assumptions they bring to the experience of viewing art. And, in doing so, he appears to turn Greenbergs arguments, in particular, inside out.

The Lessons of Optical Art Whats involved here is pure publicity. And its not the influence of art on the culture, its art transformed by culture. . . . And my feeling, if it was a negative oneand to a degree it waswas a loss of interest in the idea because it was all messed up. william seitz, the changing role of the modern museum Perceptual art made its major institutional debut at New Yorks Museum of Modern Art with William Seitzs 1965 exhibition The Responsive Eye. Smithson hoped to make



his own museum debut in this show, but his work was summarily dismissed from consideration. Nevertheless, the exhibition and the critical response to it provide a significant context and a historical starting point for Smithsons thinking about abstraction, perception, and institutionalized spectatorship. It is therefore an important event around which to focus an analysis of the perceptual debates that I introduced in the previous section. William Seitz had ambitious aims when in the fall of 1962 he announced the working title of his exhibition, but what originated as a plan for a sweeping historical presentation of optical art from impressionism to the present ended up as an international survey of contemporary art concerned with perceptual effects. In the catalogues acknowledgments, Seitz conceded that so rapid was the subsequent proliferation of painting and construction employing perceptual effects however that demands of the present left no time nor gallery space for a retrospective view.62 One critic of the exhibition cynically observed that, in fact, three-quarters of the works shown in the exhibition were made after the announcement.63 Such suggestions of crass opportunism on the part of both Seitz and the artists who submitted work to him, Seitzs seemingly indiscriminate and sweeping bundling together of eclectic terminology and artists from exhibitions organized by others, and his willful disregard for distinctions between the perceptual experiments of artists and scientists created widespread interest and considerable controversy both inside and outside the art world. Seitz began planning his exhibition during a period in which several other individuals had already attempted to define a widely acknowledged stylistic shift in avant-garde painting. Because The Responsive Eye had so much advance press, some even hoped that it would provide the definitive set of criteria.64 Seitz devised five organizing categories for his exhibition: The Color Image, Invisible Painting, Optical Painting, Black and White, and Moir Pattern. He based these categories on the terminology and artists introduced in Clement Greenbergs 1964 Post Painterly Abstraction, Ben Hellers 1963 Towards a New Abstraction, and a collection of statements paraphrased from several other contemporary exhibitions and articles.65 For example, Seitz makes Post Painterly Abstraction and Towards a New Abstraction practically synonymous with his first exhibition category, The Color Image, in the opening paragraph of his discussion of this category: these canvases do belong to one family which has been designated as new or post-painterly abstraction.66 He includes Walter Darby Bannard, Gene Davis, Thomas Downing, Paul Feeley, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Ludwig Sander, and Frank Stella, ten of the seventeen artists included in Greenbergs exhibition and three of the nine artists included in Hellers exhibition.67-


He also uses part of Greenbergs stated selection criteria to define the category: These large heraldic canvases share a dependence on original and striking color juxtaposition, a reduction of shape-vocabulary to the simplest units and combinations, and what Clement Greenberg calls a clarity and openness that minimizes the importance of the frame.68 Although Seitz uses only aspects of Greenbergs argument, his assessment of them misrepresents Greenbergs intent. Seitz attaches Greenbergs comments on openness and clarity of design or composition to his own conclusions concerning the role of the frame, whereas Greenberg links clarity with the optical in noting that post painterly abstract artists shun thick paint and tactile effects. And although Seitz is correct in stating that the frame plays no significant role in Greenbergs argument in Post Painterly Abstraction, it is of crucial importance to him in a number of other, contemporary essays, including Modernist Painting.69 Similarly, even though Seitz claims Hellers Towards a New Abstraction as an alternate title for The Color Image, he ignores Hellers stated criteria altogether. He has to because Heller believes that the central attitude shared by artists in his exhibition is a conceptual approach to painting: the work deals with ideas as conceived, not with things as seen.70 As a result of Seitzs apparently superficial mixture of preexisting critical criteria and artists throughout his catalogue essay, it is difficult to determine whether he didnt understand or just didnt want to bother with the specifics of the arguments he borrowed from his contemporaries. But the lack of agreement between him and these other individuals on how to interpret the same or similar paintings by the same artist reveals that there is more at stake in his misreadings than just an effort to develop an all-inclusive stylistic argument out of the art worlds previous efforts at categorization. By bringing together the major critical positions of the moment and the painters chosen to represent them, and then joining both to his own descriptive analogies drawn from scientific images or diagrams, Seitz suggests that what links all of these arguments and artists, beyond their implicit goal of formal categorization, might be their concern with the role of perception in aesthetic experience. Seitzs analysis of Ellsworth Kellys 1964 painting Green Blue Red (figure 1.18), a work and artist included in several other category arguments from the period, can serve as a case in point for Seitzs unique concerns. It is the first and one of the few specific paintings that Seitz discusses in his catalogue essay. Thus the way he discusses it and the particular visual analogy he draws are meant to carry considerable weight in his overall argument. Kellys large, rectangular canvas contains two identical, vertical, lozenge shapes, one blue and the other green, that are situated on



FIGURE 1.18 (see PLATE 1) Ellsworth Kelly, Green Blue Red, 1964.

either side of the central area of a large, red canvas. According to Seitz: The division of the picture surface into two equally important foci stimulates a perceptual urge to fuse the two images into one, as with a stereoscopic viewer. Exaggerated emphasis on centrality and an attempt, which is all but futile, to avoid its tyranny are poles between which perceptual composition oscillates. Dualistic symmetry (as well as the use of homogeneous patterns and dynamic target arrangements) suggests that the establishment of situations that activate or frustrate the minds tendency to unify and tranquilize is a necessary condition of perceptual art.71 Here Seitz describes the visual experience of the Kelly and of what he calls perceptual art generally in terms of retinal rivalry, a perceptual condition that both the stereoscope and now supposedly the painting exploit, although to opposite ends. Remarkably, Seitz does not mention the role that color plays in enhancing the perceptual effects created by the painting since blue, green, and red increase the visual urge to fuse the two poles even though the structure of the painting frustrates it. In choosing these three colors and not the colors used in color mixing that would have consisted of the primaries red, blue, and yellow, Kelly deliberately aims this additive effect at light-inflected vision.72 Seitzs lack of interest in the specific role that color plays in this and the other works that he discusses provides a striking departure from


the analyses of most of his contemporaries. So it comes as no surprise that a majority of the critics of The Responsive Eye condemn Seitz for disregarding colors central importance to the best or most advanced contemporary art. One of these critics, Rosalind Krauss, notes that color is actually irrelevant to many of the multi-hued paintings in Seitzs exhibition since it is used only incidentally to evoke value contrasts. She singles out Seitzs inclusion of the work of Larry Poons and then, in a footnote, Ellsworth Kelly as therefore, particularly wrong-headed: In that Kellys works exhibit an awareness of the issues at stake in modernist painting, his appearance in this exhibition only serves to confuse a proper reading of his art.73 Seitzs apparent disregard for color is most obvious in his discussion of his fourth exhibition category, Black and White. Here, again, he links the representative work in this category with an analogy drawn from perceptual science, Schrders reversible staircase. Seitz juxtaposes the staircase with one of Joseph Alberss black and white engravings on plastic so that one cannot miss the formal similarities between the two images (figure 1.19). The juxtaposition points to Alberss probable dependence on alternating perspective figures as sources, but the way the two images are laid out on the page also hints at their almost equal status.74 Alberss work is an alternating perspective figure as well as an example of perceptual art, and the same is true of Schrders reversible staircase. Seitz anticipates criticism of the black and white work in his exhibition because of its formal similarity to psychologists diagrams and projects from classes in graphic design.75 Thus he tries to historicize the connection between art and science to legitimize the formal relationship he wants to establish between them. Like Gombrich, Seitz links the diagrams to a long artistic tradition of perceptual abstraction found in Roman mosaics, in Bauhaus design principles, and most recently in the black and white reverse-perspective paintings of Frank Stella.76 But because Seitzs main goal is to describe the ambiguous perceptual effects of the images he has brought together in his exhibition and not to provide a history of the formal structure that produces these effects, neither color nor the ultimate functional destination of the images he brings together in his argument are particularly significant to him by themselves. He does not discuss colors role in Kellys Green Blue Red because he is not as interested in the subtle, formal qualities of the perceptual effects that particular colors enhance as he is in the general perceptual frustration they cause. Seitz claims that beyond the obvious formal similarities, there is a perceptual connection between the images of science and art. The alternating perspective figure and devices such as the stereoscope that exploit retinal rivalry stand for science



FIGURE 1.19 Schrders Staircase and Joseph Alberss JHC II, in William Seitz, The Responsive Eye (1965).

in his text and also act as image bridges between the broadly defined discipline of science and the visual mechanics of Seitzs definition of the new perceptual abstraction. In the catalogues conclusion, Seitz drives these scientific connections, along with his synthesis of contemporary critical categories, to a sweeping conclusion: it can be said without falsification that, seen together, these works inaugurate a new phase in the grammar of art that has already spread among freebrush abstract as well as figurative painters and has had its effect on sculpture too. Every new development merges at its periphery with other tendencies; purity is not necessarily a virtue in art. It is clear also how close to the border of science and technology some of the hardcore optical works are, and they remind us at the same time how close to art are some


of the images of science.77 Thus, according to Seitz, Greenbergs post painterly abstraction and the alternating perspective figure share this new visual grammar. Seitz gets into trouble with critics precisely because he makes this type of grammatical connection between science and art and not, despite claims at the time, because he builds a thesis that practically ignores color and includes simple black and white diagrams.78 Underneath the formalist arguments against Seitzs disregard for the central importance of color to serious contemporary painting, the critical disgust in fact derives from Seitzs scrambling of the aims and perceptual experience of serious or modernist painting and the gimmicks and trivial diagrams of a popularized science of perception. Barbara Rose confesses: In contrast with this high art [again Kelly, Poons, and so on] in which retinal response, although sometimes elicited, does not constitute the entire content of the work, purely optical art, based on textbooks and laboratory experiments, theory, equation, and proofs, is empty and spiritless, though it may jangle the nerves and assault the eyeballs. . . . Another idea a show of this nature puts across is the equally false one that science and art have something to do with one-another.79 Seitzs general aim in The Responsive Eye was simpleto dramatize the power of static forms and colors to stimulate dynamic psychological responses.80 And as I stated earlier, this power depends neither on color nor on the ultimate functional destination of the image. As early as 1964, Seitz had noted that the works he was considering for The Responsive Eye exist less as objects than as generators of perceptual responses.81 And in the catalogue, he becomes even more precise in defining both the type of work he is concerned with and the type of perceptual effects it creates. He wants to limit all past associations with actual objects or spaces; thus every work he includes is entirely abstract. Geometric forms, pure colors flatly applied, and hard edges predominate. He also makes clear that the new abstract work he is discussing differs from earlier geometric abstraction, namely De Stijl, in its almost complete abandonment of asymmetrical, nonrelational compositions: too much diversity of form impedes perceptual effect.82 This is one of the reasons Seitz claims that certain of these works therefore have a stronger family resemblance to mechanical patterns, scientific diagrams, and even to screens and textured surfaces than to relational abstract art.83 Seitz also claims that contemporary perceptual abstractionboth artistic and scientifichas moved its focus from the outside world, passed through the work as object, and entered the incompletely explored region between the cornea and the brain.84 To interpret this type of abstraction properly, Seitz must focus on what



Gombrich had five years earlier called the beholders share and what he now identifies as the gap between seeing and thinking. This focus raises problems of interpretation since Seitz admits that even when describing the perceptual effects of the alternating perspective figure, it is difficult to determine whether the appearance of recession brought about by isometric figures is innate in vision or is conditioned by long habits of seeing.85 How can one estimate the ratio between biology and conditioned expectation? All the critics that Seitz depends on in his catalogue essay relate aesthetic experience to the quality of the spectators perception. And, as I have already noted, Gombrich and Greenberg admit that the aesthetic experience of abstraction is difficult precisely because it is perceptually ambiguous. Seitz appears to have operated from similar premises in selecting works for The Responsive Eye. His principle criteria were that the work should be abstract and that it should generate immediate perceptual ambiguities for the spectator. But Seitzs more explicit connection between abstraction and perceptual difficulty makes the merging of biology and perception in his argument much more obvious, even though he, like his contemporaries, acknowledges educations role in perception. When Seitz eliminates distinctions between the categories of diagrams and devices, such as the alternating perspective figure and the stereoscope and abstract paintings, the distinctions between the perceptual conventions embodied by the former twoperspective and retinal rivalryand the perception of abstraction are elided as well. It literally becomes difficult to see the learned conventions now buried under these definitions of perception, to apprehend the perceptual difficulties considered to be inherent to them, or to recognize the possibility that abstraction does not necessarily have anything to do with either. Seitz most clearly exposesand championsa visual model based on implied universal conditions of seeing that underlie, to varying degrees, all the positions he incorporates into his argument. At a significant point, however, Seitz departs from the relationships his contemporaries draw between perception and abstraction. In the conclusion to his catalogue essay, he states that the new, perceptual art may finally have a means of satisfactorily replacing the content usually lost in abstraction through its psychic effectiveness. He even asks: Can an advanced understanding and application of functional images open a new path from retinal excitation to emotions and ideas?86 All of this happens because the viewer is visually thrown off balance by perceptual abstraction: Seitz embraces the visual ambiguity that his contemporaries have been either decrying or providing ways to overcome. By becoming a means to an end, ambi-


guity gives abstraction meaning beyond its formal self through the very fact that it makes no visual sense. Thus, Seitz can suggest that the new visual grammar has begun to spread among free-brush abstract as well as figurative painters and has had its effect on sculpture too.87 Seitzs argument is problematic for the same reasons that his earlier MoMA exhibition, The Art of Assemblage, was problematic.88 In both, Seitz extends a technical or formal development in artistic practice directly into an assumed set of shared intentions. His two key, viewer-based terms in The Responsive Eyeperceptual abstraction and perceptual movementalso override his formal categories of abstraction to constitute a generalized, experiential definition for contemporary abstraction, without independent reference to content, style, or formal qualities in individual works of art. The breadth of this definition of visual experience allows Seitz to draw morphological connections between science and art and to speak of the effects of images from both realms in the same terms. Pop art may have borrowed its imagery from mass culture, but viewing it was still understood to be an experience different from looking at a comic book, billboard, or packing crate. Even its detractors understood that.89 But perceptual art, as Seitz presented it, seemed to have erased the boundary between the worlds inside and outside the gallery. Seitzs argument and many of the works in his exhibition open up perceptual experience for the viewer in a way that even a New Yorker cartoonist could comment on (figure 1.20). In the cartoon, a man emerges from a building advertising numerous op art exhibits, and his eyes bulge wide open in astonishment at an urban environment filled with the abstract patterns and presumably the visual effects that he had just seen on the walls inside. Even the suns rays appear as a series of thin, closely spaced black lines that abruptly confront even more closely spaced rows of vertical black lines, a moir pattern in the making.90 In other words, optical art can be experienced anywhere. Although Seitz hints at these viewer-friendly possibilities, even he was in no way prepared for the New Yorker cartoons man in the street. Despite the almost unanimously negative reviews in the art press, The Responsive Eye received overwhelmingly positive reviews and a great deal of coverage in the popular pressin Life, Look, Newsweek, Time, womens fashion magazines, and the Young Catholic Messenger. Seitz claimed that the shows popular success was due to a reduction and popularization of his thesis: Whats involved here is pure publicity. And its not the influence of art on the culture, its art transformed by culture. . . . And my feeling, if it was a negative oneand to a degree it waswas a loss of interest in the idea because it was



FIGURE 1.20 James Stevenson, cartoon, The New Yorker (3 April 1965).

all messed up.91 His disappointment is ironic, considering his own stated intention of blurring boundaries and specifically his claim that purity is not necessarily a virtue in art. Like the individuals whose arguments he plunders in his catalogue essay, Seitz wants to keep the abstract art he champions perceptually pure, even though the responses he hopes it will generate are not. In his reaction, he also acknowledges his awareness of his responsibilities as a curator at an influential institution and reveals where he too is willing to draw the line between inclusiveness and messing up.92 He is directing the spectators troubled perception toward transcendence; this experience was not to be confused with banal tricks and trivial diagrams. The critic Lawrence Alloway had the opposite reaction to the popularization of Seitzs intentions: What I liked about The Responsive Eye was that it was an exhibition put on at a major museum which became an instant success in fashion magazines, humor magazines, teenage magazines, Time magazine, and so on. . . . Why are you [Seitz] so disturbed by the connections to other areas of human experience?93 Seitz was disturbed, in part, because others inside the art world were disturbed. By so blatantly linking the new abstraction to the diagrams and viewing devices of popular science, he not only unwittingly opened the door to other, less aes-


thetically controllable areas of human experience but designated a dividend for perceptual ambiguity beyond aesthetic experience that angered his contemporaries. The conventional edges to their arguments became noticeable as well. In all of these descriptions, a great deal was at stakemost important, the nature and power of spectatorial interpretation and who and what defined it. In retrospect, what emerges is a sense of the urgency of the question of perception and the broad affiliations between various attempts to define the nature and value of early 1960s abstraction, along with a sense of the often subtle contradictions between those attempts and the boundaries or limits that many inside the art world agreed should be maintained. Such revelations and the generally public nature of these debates also exposed the perimeters of institutional power over how and what the contemporary spectator should look at and consider abstract art.

In 1964, Robert Smithson submitted several works for William Seitz to consider for inclusion in The Responsive Eye. Smithson worked on these paintings and several related drawings over roughly a six-month period, and all of them shared similar compositions and types of color combinations. High Sierra (figure 1.21) is typical of the group. Its composition consists of a series of light-blue lightning-bolt shapes that drop down from the top of the canvas and occupy approximately half of its surface. These jagged shapes provide a strong contrast to the deep-blue background color of the rest of the canvas.94 Smithsons flat and dry paint application leaves little trace of his brush work so that the resulting surface consists simply of alternations in color and interlocking shapes that create a slight perceptual shudder. Another painting from this period, Homage to Carmen Miranda, has a somewhat similar format, although in this work two of the three geometric forms resemble the explosive bursts found in comic books.95 Smithson has also added a thin outline to all three of the shapes in a third color. Little in these works saves them from a purely formalist reading, other than their recognizable and somewhat cartoonlike images. The commentary that Smithson adds to these two paintings, and presumably to the others, is in the titles. Both give the dry, formal surfaces a popular twist with their references to Hollywood cinemaa particular film and a well-known female film personality.96 The circumstances surrounding both the viewing conditions of works of art and the demands of the spectator had been crucial to Smithsons early, negative reactions to the contemporary art scene in New York. He wrote to Nancy Holt from Italy



FIGURE 1.21 Robert Smithson, High Sierra, 1964.

where his second one-person gallery exhibition was currently taking place: The way I feel now, I would rather have people look at my painting with a flashlight with a room faintly lit by violet lights and the air filled with the odor of heliotrope and jasmine. In the background the tender throbbing of tambourines could add a tone for a select few. But alas! People want to stare with aggressive eagerness or they feel they must stare in order to grant approval. There is something indecent about such staring.97 Smithsons discomfort with the visual demands of the contemporary spectator in this letter and his favorable description of the mysterious settings of Roman churches that follow it betray his Catholic upbringing and a young artists general misgivings about public exposure. There is also a particular edge to his description of vision that appears later in secular form.98 For example, he already prefers viewing conditions that would defuse a clear and purely visual experience. But the last two sentences in his letter to Holt are the most striking: People want to stare with aggressive eagerness or they feel they must stare in order to grant approval. There is something indecent about staring. People want to stare or must stare; both are indecent, but Smithson links the latter imperative to granting approval, or rather, he identifies the act of staring as an essential part of contemporary critical practice. Star-


ing is a prerequisite for making critical judgments concerning art. Smithson does not define what people are looking for with this indecent stare, but he suggests some of the things that this staring does not includeperipheral and extravisual sensations and what he calls later in the letter the invisible worlds of dreams within dreams.99 Smithsons critical viewer had a considerably narrower set of visual expectations in mind when approaching a work of art. The artist longed for more: From the dooms of modernism, something cries out for the missing Dust, then fades into the printed word and photograph. The Dust is leaving us with pop art and Clement Greenbergs visual puritanism. Soon there will be nothing to stand on except the webs of manufactured time warped among throbbing galaxies of space, space, and more space. The Great Universal Vision is caving in, and the Age of Astonishment is beginning.100 In response to Smithsons submissions to The Responsive Eye, Seitz acknowledged that although interesting and relevant to the scope of the exhibition, the work did not have an individuality that other artists on our list have expressed.101 The descriptive term individuality seems odd in retrospect, considering the type of work Seitz ended up choosing and the considerable amount of criticism he received for the exhibitions formulaic appearance. Yet if Seitz was looking for static forms that stimulate dynamic psychological responses through perceptual movement, perhaps the perceptual shudder that Smithsons lightning-bolt paintings produced was not up to the mark. Their individuality, as I have already pointed out, was not primarily perceptual, at least not in the manner in which Seitz understood it. The paintings messed up his distinctions between the influence of art on culture and art transformed by culture. According to Holt, Smithson was not very impressed with The Responsive Eye exhibition as it materialized in 1965, nor had he been particularly interested in op art generally. He thought it was kind of dry and scientificthus his own formally dry paintings with their contrary, pop titles.102 But in 1964, a relatively unknown artist like Smithson could hardly avoid the temptation to submit work to what was promoted to be a major exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. No one could ignore the potential exposure such an exhibition would provide for a young artist, no matter what the exhibitions specific aims, the latter being still quite vague when Smithson and others submitted work for consideration.103 In fact, the artist Bruce Glaser noted that at the time rumors suggested that many people actually created work for the exhibition on the basis of what they heard about it. And Seitz even conceded that there is no doubt they did.104 Smithsons lightning-bolt paintings may be consistent



FIGURE 1.22 Robert Smithson, The Eliminator, 1964.

with what was going on stylistically in New York painting at this time, but they also betray some other, extra-formalist issues that Smithson was dealing with as well.105 Within months of submitting photographs and transparencies of his paintings to Seitz, Smithson designed a three-dimensional work that incorporated his lightning-bolt image (figure 1.22), but now the same zigzag shapes literally shudder off and on because they are made of electrically activated neon-gas-filled tubing. Adjacent and at a forty-five-degree angle to the vertical tubes on both sides, two mirrors momentarily reflect the flashing lightning bolts as multiple images, and yet, like the central neon original, these reflections oscillate between bold red light and the translucent form of the bent-glass tubing.106 These two contradictory visual experiences not only violently undercut one another and make any kind of visual resolution impossible; they open up a perceptual gap that is separate from the experience of either one of the two images. Smithson called this piece The Eliminator for reasons that he clearly spells out in an essay with the same title: The viewer doesnt know what he is looking at, because he has no surface space to fixate on; thus he becomes aware of the emptiness of his own sight or sees through his sight. Light, mirror reflections, and shadow fabricate the perceptual intake of the eyes. Unreality becomes actual and


solid.107 As I indicated above, Seitz had claimed that his intent in The Responsive Eye was to dramatize the power of static forms and colors to stimulate dynamic psychological responses.108 Smithsons optical forms are no longer static in The Eliminator, nor is he interested in their potential to create psychological responses from the inside out. Blindness, not transcendent vision, is his objective. Concentrated staring through the space between cornea and the brain provides the spectator with nothing. We need to catch ourselves actually seeing or not seeing to comprehend the difference. Soon after Smithson received his rejection letter from Seitz, he destroyed most of his optical paintings, and his work changed radically. In retrospect he realized it: I would say that I began to function as a conscious artist around 1964. I think I started doing works then that were mature. I would say that prior to the 196465 period I was in a kind of groping, investigating period.109 In his new work, he continued to depend on some of the same optical tricks used in his 1964 paintings, but now with different ends in mind. Instead of a stylistic parody of perceptual painting, the new work brings perception itself, the illusionistic conventions that supposedly mimic it, and the dominant critical assumptions about both under direct attack.

Perceptual Enantiomorphs Is it possible that somehowperhaps in terms of a space and time wildly unlike the space and time we know on the macroscopic level every particle is a true mirror image of its antiparticle? Is it possible that antimatter is nothing more than ordinary matter with its entire space-time structure, down to the last detail, reversed as by a looking glass? martin gardner, the ambidextrous universe When asked to contribute an artists statement to the catalogue for the 1966 exhibition Art in Process, Smithson submitted a Paragraph from a fictive artists journal, and in this guise, he recommends a guidebook to sight that he found, he claims, in a private art-book library. Smithsons imaginary artist states that this text, The Exhaustion of Sight or How to Go Blind and Yet See, is a true paradigm of unending importance and that he look[s] forward to the day when it will be published in paperback so that millions of artists everywhere will be able to share its many treasures.110 The artist also claims that the book contains intricate diagrams on seeing sight, probably the type of diagrams Smithson was fond of drawing over or tracing out of the many books in his own private library. One such diagram became the basis for one of



FIGURE 1.23 Robert Smithson, drawing in James P. C. Southall, Introduction to Physiological Optics (1961).

Smithsons drawings (figure 1.23) for his 1965 Enantiomorphic Chambers, the work he exhibited in Art in Process. Smithson describes the drawing in an early draft of his notes on Enantiomorphic Chambers: Superimposed over a plan of a simple box stereoscope, in James P. C. Southalls book Introduction to Physiological Optics is a birds eye view of The Enantiomorphic Chambers. This superimposition indicates the removal of the illusionistic plane of focus, sometimes called the picture plane. It is a known fact that we do not see with our eyes but rather with our brain. Thinking about ones sight enables one to build or invent a structure that sees nothing.111 The stereoscopic viewer, together with its stereoscopic cards, is designed to mirror the physical conditions necessary to the process of retinal fusionbinocu-


lar vision.112 Viewers cannot help but be generally aware of this fundamental aspect of the stereoscopes design since they have an opportunity to look at the two views on a stereoscope card both with and without the stereoscopes viewer. The threedimensional images that viewers see through the stereoscopes viewer are also highly unstable. Thus the blindered eyepiece is necessary to eliminate all extra-visual stimuli in the viewers immediate surroundings, including the viewers own body. The ability to see stereoscopic illusions seems to depend on the viewers ability to repress the physical conditions of perception and to suspend knowledge that she or he is actually looking at two distinct images, rather than one, even as she or he depends on these anthropomorphic conditions to see the stereoscopic illusions. Therefore, the entire system depends on a contradiction to work.113 Smithson uses bright pink marker to indicate on Southalls stereoscope plan how he intends to replace the two pictures on the stereoscope card with paired sets of mirrors.114 The two sets of mirrors are enantiomorphs, meaning that they are exactly alike in every respect except that the arrangement of the mirrors in one is the mirror image of the arrangement of mirrors in the other. The internal exchange of reflections and counter-reflections generated by these enantiomorphic mirrors cancels out the illusionistic plane of focus by directing the focal point of each eye outward in the opposite direction from the other eye. When viewers stand before the threedimensional counterpart of Smithsons diagram of an altered stereoscope, Enantiomorphic Chambers (figure 1.24), they see nothing in the mirrors: The double prison of the eyes becomes a fact.115 This momentary blindness arises from the disappointment of a visual expectation when looking at mirrors. Viewers expect to see a reflection of themselves. Yet they also gain a new sight. What they see is not just what they see in the mirrors, which is nothing, but also what they normally dont see. They catch themselves in an act of seeing that contradicts their conditioned thoughts about seeing, particularly their understanding of retinal fusion. Retinal fusion is the result of cultural conditioning, and the mechanics of binocular seeing are not synonymous with either retinal fusion or cultural conditioning. Seeing and what viewers think they are seeing or expect to see can be at odds, and as Smithson points out, one has to think about sight to create a situation in which one sees nothing. In a collage from the same year as Enantiomorphic Chambers (figure 1.25), Smithson places a photograph of himself as a headless torso, standing erect, back to the camera, head hooded and bent forward, and hands helplessly in his pockets, between two photographs of the same, singular enantiomorphic chamber cut from a



contact sheet; one image is identified as right side up, and the other as upside down.116 Here again Smithson takes advantage of the photographic privilege of flipping to create a mirror image or enantiomorphic pair out of a single object just as he does when he flips the arrangement of the individual units of Alogon. Mirrors and cameras can transform anything, even a stereoscopic situation into an enantiomorphic one. Ruled blue pen lines cut across the torso at about heart level to connect the opposing diagonal vectors in the enantiomorphic situation created by the two images of the chamber. The headless body of the artist occupies the vanishing point of the picture plane; sight is canceled out both literally and through Smithsons punning title, Afterthought Enantiomorphic Chambers. The body is a necessary afterthought in the stereoscopes design, and sight in Smithsons work comes after thought, after the loss of the head. This pun, in turn, also loops back to Smithsons remark: thinking about ones sight enables one to build or invent a structure that sees nothing. The

FIGURE 1.24 (opposite page) Robert Smithson, Enantiomorphic Chambers, 1965.

FIGURE 1.25 Robert Smithson, Afterthought Enantiomorphic Chambers, c. 1965.

artist includes a written commentary under the torso in fuschia-colored pencil stopping of sight not by brutal opposition but by lowering the head. Smithsons pun on head viscerally and erotically extends his simultaneous exposure and decapitation of the bodys role in vision, and Smithson leaves the dummy body, his body, hands in pockets, to a game of pocket-polo, playing by itself.117 It is important to consider Smithsons choice of the stereoscope as the particular diagram of seeing to be undermined by his Enantiomorphic Chambers not only because contemporary discussions of early 1960s abstraction include references to the stereoscope but also because of the way the stereoscopes structure and perceptual effects were often used as analogies for the structure and perceptual effects of painting and for the process of perception itself.118 For example, to privilege the perceptual effects of Kellys Green Blue Red in his analysis, William Seitz deliberately links the viewers perceptual urge to fuse the paintings blue and green lozenges to the same perceptual urge exploited by the stereoscope. Yet his analogy fails to address the important differences between looking at the Kelly and looking through the mask of a stereoscope viewer and how or why this urge to resolve visual ambiguities occurs in both. In constructing such a circular argument, Seitz retains the stereoscopes inherent contradictions, transposes them onto the experience of viewing abstract painting, and thus mystifies the perceptual process by default. Smithsons use of the stereoscope parallels that of the perceptual psychologist, M. D. Vernon, in that he uses a simple experiment with an actual stereoscope, or at least a diagram of one, to determine where in the perceptual process the role of biology ends and thought begins.119 His investigation reveals the component parts of the perceptual process through a critique of one diagram of that process, rather than assuming that this diagram and its intended effect are equivalent to the perceptual process.

If, in his drawings and writings at the end of the 1960s, Smithson accuses the art museum of being the chief mystifier of the perceptual experience of art, he begins his investigation of the roots of this mystification process with one individual, Clement Greenberg. Holt recalls that during the period 1964 through 1967, Greenberg was Smithsons primary critical adversary or foil: Greenberg was the one that got him going because his ideas were so restrictive. He constantly talked about Greenberg: it was an obsession.120 During this period, Smithsons written references to Greenberg, scattered across numerous essays, published and unpublished, reflect a particular


sense of what he considered debatable in Greenbergs arguments and what he did not.121 Surprisingly, he accepts many of the critics formal observations without challenge, such as his description of how Barnett Newman structures his paintings by repeating the framing support or canvas edge inside the picture.122 But Greenbergs categorization of these formal observations troubles Smithson. In his earliest written criticism of Greenberg, Smithson denounces the experiential poverty of what he calls Greenbergs visual puritanism, and even here, the artist singles out for condemnation not what the critic sees but what he refuses to see. Later, around 1966, he writes his first detailed analysis of Greenbergs visual conclusions and still calls them rigid but certainly no longer pure. He begins this essay, entitled Abstract Mannerism, by claiming that Some artists never question the creative process, they consider it to be quite natural. Yet, no matter how naturally creative the artist is, no matter how much he relies on smart instincts, little bits of self-consciousness creep into his art. What is called cool today is in a way the rebirth of the Mannerist sensibility.123 Smithson identifies Kenneth Nolands little hints or references to the drip or the splash, which the painter leaves along the framing edges of his otherwise hard-edge paintings, as an example of mannerism masquerading as spontaneity. He concludes: Its hard to tell whether Nolands mistakes are more or less interesting than Andy Warhols fake corrections. 124 Greenberg frequently singled out Nolands work from the mid-1960s for praise, in large part because it conformed so closely to the criteria the critic had set forth in Modernist Painting and other essays on painting, which he published in the 1960s. Noland was also one of the artists that many critics felt William Seitz contaminated by including him in The Responsive Eye. In comparing Nolands work to Warhols, Smithson has gone one step further than Seitz in blurring distinctions between the rigidly defined categories then recognized by a majority of the art world, but he was prepared to go even further and pin the title of that great Mannerism on the ultra-consciousness of the framing edge itself, which he credits Greenberg with bringing to public attention. To prove his point, Smithson places a description of the role of the frame from a book on mannerism side by side with Greenbergs well-known description of the picture edge: let us look back into awful art history: Jacques Bousquet in his book Mannerism says, By a typically Mannerist paradox, the frame became the picture! In France, the feigned frame enjoyed great vogue. Meanwhile, back at the Avant-Garde, which is beyond history, Greenberg tells us in his essay American-Type Painting, What is destroyed is the Cubist, and immemorial, notion and feeling of the picture edge as a confine; with (Barnett) Newman, the picture edge is repeated inside, and



makes the picture, instead of merely being echoed. 125 Through this juxtaposition, Smithson reveals that the act of transforming the framing edge into the picture is itself a convention, even if it is employed to different ends at different historical moments. He concludes: History repeats itself, but in the Abstract. Criticism has entered a maze of mirrors. . . . [Decadent forms of analysis seem to permeate much of what is called pure criticism].126 Not only does the avant-garde mirror kitsch in Smithsons analysis of Greenbergs description of the framing edgeGreenberg aligns mannerism numerous times with the attributes of kitsch and would not have been happy with Smithsons association of both with his definition of avant-garde paintingbut the creative process itself is no longer a mystery, hidden behind what Smithson calls the pretentious wall that modernism had set up to protect itself.127 Smithson begins to explore the maze of mirrors, which he claims contemporary critics like Greenberg inhabit, with several of his early mirror pieces; all of them exploit prevalent forms, colors, and perceptual expectations in the art world to scramble pureand not so pureconventions of all kinds to produce an abstract mannerism of their own.128 In a 1964 drawing (figure 1.26), Smithson illustrates and describes his three basic types of mirror sculptureenantiomorphic wall pieces, mirror vortices, and mirrored block floor pieces.129 The wall pieces absorb the entire room that the piece is in by juxtaposing two enantiomorphic mirror configurations. In one work (figure 1.27), a purple steel rhomboid structure frames two pairs of extremely acute mirrorized-plastic triangles that extend outward slightly from the wall and toward the viewer and connect to each other along their short bases. These right- and left-handed convergence lines double and reverse the vanishing point so that the viewer sees a three-dimensional space but not an illusionistically unified one. One pair of mirrors tilts slightly downward; the other tilts upward so that the viewers gaze is not returned but bounces off the ceiling and floor of the space in which the work hangs so that these two opposing surfaces are viewed as reflected images, now side by side on the wall. Another untitled wall piece from about a year later (figure 1.28) absorbs the room more completely by reflecting the surrounding four walls as well as the ceiling and floor in three pairs of enantiomorphic mirrors. Because of the inward-facing positions of the two central mirrored triangles, the floor is reflected over the ceiling, bringing aspects of the viewers environment to him or her in jumbled pieces. Smithson also blurs the distinction between framework and mirrored surface in this work by using rose-colored mirrorized plastic in addition to the light-blue steel frame.130 He often chooses a lighter, brighter color for the metal frame of these mirrored works so

FIGURE 1.26 Robert Smithson, Three Works in Metal and Plastic, 1964.

that their frames dominate and clearly project forward toward viewers as the darker, mirrored surfaces appear to flatten or even recede away from them. Mirrors are not supposed to call attention to themselves as surfaces or as colored fields. When they do, a multi-part visual experience opens up: the viewers concentration oscillates among the clean geometric lattice of the frames, the seemingly flat colored fields behind the frames, and the contradictory web of mirror reflections that the colored mirrors contain. Smithson is playing with the formal attributes of the geometric flat color fields and shaped canvases of contemporary hard-edge, post painterly or perceptual abstraction in his mirror paintings to prevent viewers from focusing on either formal or purely optical concerns.131 They are forced to consider both. Through the scrambling of all of the formal attributes of these various categories, Smithson demonstrates how the conventions that render abstraction ambiguous depend more on what viewers expect to see than on any one isolated, abstract element a work might possess. The colored mirrors function as the ultimate visual pun by presenting perceptions mental and physiological activities as enantiomorphs, doubled or binary and possessing no visible center or field of undivided focus: Abstract art is not a self-projection, it is indifferent to the self.132
FIGURE 1.27 (opposite page) Robert Smithson, Untitled, 19631964.

FIGURE 1.28 Robert Smithson, Untitled, 19641965.



Smithson based his conception of perceptual enantiomorphs on Martin Gardners The Ambidextrous Universe. In this text, Gardner progresses from an introductory discussion of simple mirror tricks that illustrate enantiomorphic phenomena to a revelation of the presence of enantiomorphic forms or structures in the most simple to most complex life forms. Similarly, Smithson begins his investigation of enantiomorphs with his own mirror tricksthe early enantiomorphic wall pieces, The Eliminator, and Enantiomorphic Chambers. He then proceeds to reveal the presence of the enantiomorph in contemporary theory and artistic practice. In an early draft of his statement for Art in Process, Smithson compares the enantiomorphs splitting and mirroring of perception to a number of other things: the structure of crystals and by extension, as elaborated in his contemporary essay, The Crystal Land, the New Jersey landscape, and the poetry of the artist, Dan Graham.133 The draft provides a list of the key enantiomorphic analogies that Smithson will continue to refer to and develop throughout his career. In all of these analogies, geology replaces biology, inanimate replaces animate, abstraction replaces representation, antimatter replaces antiillusionism. Later Smithson describes the importance of this moment in his work: That [Enantiomorphic Chambers] in a sense establishes a certain kind of point of departure not so much toward the idealistic notion of perception, but all the different breakdowns within perception, so thats what Im interested in. Im interested in zeroing in on those aspects of mental experience that somehow coincide with the physical world.134 Although like Seitz, Gombrich, and indirectly Greenberg, Smithson is still relying on a scientific model, this model is no longer anthropomorphic. For Smithson, the enantiomorph is a more appropriate model for abstraction and a more relevant tool for interpreting contemporary culture than the stereoscope or the alternating perspective figure because of the enantiomorphs relationship to recent developments in science. When the stereoscope is used as the descriptive paradigm for the 1960s, perception itself appears to have no historical specificity. Smithson had trouble with the stereoscopic analogy of perception and with Greenbergs visual puritanism, and in his mind the two were connected. A comparison between the principles of Greenbergs optical tour of the work of art and the travel done with the stereoscope reveals that the advantages of bothpassive travel and disembodied visionrely on shared conventions and hidden contradictions. The stereoscope provides sight that travels; in other words, distant places and things hover before the viewer like three-dimensional mirages. Physical movement is reduced to the subtle wrist action of sliding the two stereoscopic images into focus. Simultaneously, cultural space is controlled by the visual whims of the viewer


through a type of looking that is ensconced within the traditions of passive leisure. Smithson contradicts this stereoscopic vision in his early three-dimensional work the Alogons and the mirror piecesby providing what he called an illusion without an illusion.135 Smithsons phrase is not equivalent to Greenbergs anti-illusionism, since the latter purports to present pure visual truth, once all the extra-optical elements of aesthetic experience are stripped away. The Enantiomorphic Chambers, for example, demonstrates how ones idea of visual truth is based on illusionary expectations. It turns the tool of the optical tourist inside out, dispelling the myths of voyeuristic objectivity and autonomous vision and bringing the viewer back to voyeuristic subjectivitycultural expectationsand the biological conditions that support them. Supposed mirages or elsewheres become actual places that no longer meet expectations, and the viewer is forced to recognize that where she or he is standing is limited to a specific space and time. As I have already stated, Greenberg postulates that works of modernist sculpture proffer exclusively visual modalities and that the viewers experience of this sculpture, in turn, is primarily visual: The human body is no longer postulated as the agent of space in either pictorial or sculptural art; now it is eyesight alone, and eyesight has more freedom of movement and invention within three dimensions than within two.136 Yet this disembodied vision is actually body-affirming by default because, in reality, the body must be present to produce Greenbergs optical experience or what the eye alone knows. Specifically, his optical miragetwo- and threedimensional at oncedepends on retinal fusion, which is also the perceptual process behind the design of the stereoscope. Like the designers of the stereoscope, Greenberg internalizes retinal rivalry and its reconciliation, retinal fusion within his description of aesthetic vision, but unlike the former he avoids any such bodily aspects in his description and attributes the spectators difficulty in seeing or holding onto the mirage to problems attributable to abstraction, not to his or her body or mind. Thus Greenberg could conveniently side step the viewers perceptual limitations without fully acknowledging them. The designer of the stereoscope, on the other hand, implicitly concedes that the spectators perceptual difficulties originate with the body and mind; otherwise the blindered mask and the focusing track would not be essential parts of the stereoscopes design. Early on, in his 1966 essay Quasi-Infinities and the Waning of Space, Smithson accuses Greenberg of anthropomorphizing space, the very trait that stereoscopic images and Greenbergs optical mirage share when internalizing retinal rivalry. He cites Greenbergs description of the new space of abstract art as belonging to the



same order of space as our bodies in Abstract, Representational and so forth and comments: Here Greenberg equates space with our bodies and interprets this reduction as abstract. This anthropomorphizing of space is aesthetically a pathetic fallacy and is in no way abstract.137 Smithson dismisses Greenbergs experiential definition of abstraction just as he crosses the mimetic eyes of the stereoscope in his Enantiomorphic Chambers. And in what is probably an early draft of QuasiInfinities, he turns the critics definition of artArt is a matter strictly of experience, not of principles, and what counts first and last in art is quality; all other things are secondary138around altogether by claiming that abstraction is not governed by expression or what Greenberg calls experience, but by a mental attitude toward esthetics that is in no way dependent on formal reduction. An Egyptian idol is more abstract than a Noland painting, because it excludes emotional needs. Abstract art does not appeal to the emotions but to the mind. All expressive art is representational.139 This argument justifies Smithsons claim in Quasi-Infinities that there is nothing abstract about de Kooning or Pollock (both so-called abstract expressionists) and leads to Smithsons central bte noire, the all too pervasive use of biological metaphors in art criticism, science, and technology. Such biological metaphors, when used by artists or critics, undermine any claim that a work is abstract. The two realms are, for Smithson, mutually exclusive, just as they are for Wilhem Worringer in his Abstraction and Empathy. Smithson bases his criteria for abstraction on a number of Worringers distinctionsa dread of space, tactility, crystalline form, and the traditions of Egyptian, primitive, and Eastern art. Worringers other term, empathic art, lines up with many of the things Smithson rejectsan embrace of space, a privileging of optical perception, organic form, and the art historical traditions of the antique and the Renaissance.140 Finally, Smithson has found a theory of abstraction that he can embrace, although he has to look far outside the immediate historical boundaries and sources of the discourse of his contemporaries.

Many elements of the arguments I have been discussing thus far come together in 1967 with the advent of the second major museum survey of the decades sculpture, American Sculpture of the Sixties.141 Smithson was represented in this exhibition by Alogon #2, and Greenberg contributed Recentness of Sculpture, his first substantial analysis of the three-dimensional work by Smithson and his contemporaries.142 Greenberg begins his essay with a discussion of aesthetic boundaries. He describes how


arbitrary resemblances between abstract forms in art and in modern lifewhat he calls the look of art as opposed to non-arthave increasingly blurred the boundaries between these two categories and have generated a corresponding anxiety in the viewer. He states that modern art has been consistently addressing this problem of boundaries to various degrees but that by now we have all become aware that the farout is what has paid off best in avant-garde art in the long runand what could be further out than the arbitrary?143 According to Greenberg, visually ambiguous relationships between art and non-art were no longer possible in painting since painting had already reached its limit in the unpainted canvas, which in all its spareness could clearly now be identified as art. So the borderline needed to be sought elsewhere, in the domain of the three-dimensional, where sculpture and everything else material that was not art also resided. Greenbergs argument echoes his earlier belief in modern sculptures greater modernist potential, but here he credits minimalism specifically with recognizing and exploiting the opportunities available at this moment, since this sculpture wastes no time with anything but the borderline between art and non-art.144 The trouble with minimal sculpture, for Greenberg, also grows out of its too single-minded pursuit of this boundary; it remains too much a feat of ideation: Its idea remains an idea, something deduced instead of felt and discovered. The geometrical and modular simplicity may announce and signify the artistically furthest-out, but the fact that the signals are understood for what they want to mean betrays them artistically. There is hardly any aesthetic surprise in Minimal art, only a phenomenal one of the same order as in Novelty art which is a one-time surprise. . . . The artistic substance and reality, as distinct from the program, turns out to be in good safe taste. I find myself back in the realm of Good Design, where Pop, Op, Assemblage, and the rest of Novelty art live. By being employed as tokens, the primary structures are converted into mannerisms. The third dimension itself is converted into a mannerism.145 I quote Greenberg at length here to do justice to the way his argument resonates with issues that I have been articulating. The opposite of the ideated sculpture Greenberg criticizes is obviously his modernist or non-ideated sculpture, which is self-sufficient and optical and does not refer to anything outside itself. His description of the experience of modernist sculpture here complies with his description in Abstract, Representational and so forth of an aesthetic experience whose outcome is impossible to anticipate and whose quality depends solely on that experience alone.146



In Recentness of Sculpture, Greenberg advises Smithson and his minimalist contemporaries to learn from artists like Anthony Caro, Ellsworth Kelly, and Kenneth Noland; in particular they needed to learn how to rise above Good Design.147 But how can Smithson learn from these artists when he intends to undermine the perceptual models on which Greenberg and others assume their work is based? Smithson does intend a formal resemblance between his mirrored wall pieces and the contemporary paintings that Greenberg championed, but his works promote a completely different way of seeing. And soon even the formal resemblance between Smithsons work and the work of these artists, already quite fragile, will cease to exist.148 The final irony inheres in Greenbergs claim that minimalism is not spontaneous but is based on conventions, while the art he champions is not. Smithson had already gone to some length to prove this incorrect in his earlier essay, Abstract Mannerism. Smithson claimed that his title Alogon comes from the Greek word that refers to the unnameable and irrational number.149 Thus, when used as a title for sculpture, alogon refers to something that suspends primary order and rationality, that breaks with a gestalt.150 Here that broken gestalt is more than just the good or even the coherent image; it is what Smithson once called the entire art establishment and its relationship to perceiving abstraction. As if to answer Smithsons complaint that abstraction is everybodys zero but nobodys nought, Lawrence Alloway provided his own description of the artists multiple-unit work: Nothing is simple. For one thing, our continuing contact as spectators with such work replaces blankness and the sense of zero with recognition of purpose.151 In most of his early geometric sculpture, Robert Smithson seeks to confound visual expectations and to create discomfort for viewers. All this work is abstract, but abstraction is not what causes the confusion. Rather, this confusion is generated by Smithsons manipulation of certain artistic conventions or descriptive analogies such as linear perspective, the alternating perspective figure, or the stereoscope that normally reward particular expectations. Smithson suspected that confusion in front of abstract works of art was due to the fact that viewers depended on the presence of such conventions or analogies to give works of art their structure and make them intelligible. Not only are these paradigms or conventions more appropriate to representational images, but Smithson also felt that abstraction had no inherent obligation to them or to meet the expectations they satisfy.152 So he made the expectations clear by deliberately disappointing them in the design of his work, hoping then that the viewers frustration would lead to an awareness of her or his visual preconceptions and not just to the conclusion that abstraction was inherently ambiguous.


As I have already shown, Smithson was not alone in attempting to describe the relationship between spectatorial discomfort and abstraction in the early to mid1960s. His work and writings develop out of a larger historical debate in which more was at stake than just the stylistic arguments concerning degrees or types of abstraction that many assessments of this period tend to emphasize. This debate involved establishing a general definition of the nature of aesthetic experience that would accommodate abstraction as either a positive or a negative development within it. Despite the theoretical complexity and diversity of the various positions within this debate, however, many of the actual descriptions of the process of viewing abstract art given by its participants, both inside and outside the art world, during the early 1960s are formally similar, even though they are found in texts now considered to be antithetical to one another. These morphological similarities provided a point of entry for Smithson because he understood that what drew them together was the connection all sides inevitably made between ambiguity and abstraction. But in all of these descriptions, the actual cause of this ambiguity was perceptual; it was always due to the confounding of a coherent presentation of objects in space and often specifically due to the confounding of linear perspective or visual transparency. Although the authors of these descriptions held different opinions concerning whether abstractions visual ambiguity could be overcome by the viewer, all agreed that the ambiguity or visual opacity of abstract images was the central issue and that sight or its frustration was the seat of a spectators success or failure to read these images. Smithson attacked these descriptions of the perception of abstraction in a number of ways and finally was able to illustrate the limits of perception generally, both physiologically and culturally, as separate from the perception of abstraction specifically. Smithson articulates the space of vision as a historically specific space in his early sculpture by attributing perceptual ambiguities to cultural expectations, based on learned conventions that were tied to a particular sitethe museumand not to be found in nature.153 Once identified, these cultural expectations and sites could be challenged by the introduction of other types of experiences and siteswhat one might call cultural elsewheres.



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The city, like man, no longer had limits. . . . It tends . . . to alter the very eyes of society. Those left behind in the central citythe aged, the racial and national minorities, the poor generallydrop out of the mind and sight of those riding the superhighways from suburbia to office and back. michael harrington, THE ACCIDENTAL CENTURY Why should any artist be concerned with the monuments of Passaic? Should one feel sad or glad about such a visit? What value, besides suburban scenery is behind that unstressed landscape? Is there some kind of secret motive for going to such a place? Is the artist who goes there a debased romantic, or an astoundingly brilliant artist pretending to be a debased romantic? Would the installation of a few of the best works of art in the streets improve the spirits of the citizens? Who am I to propose such questions? robert smithson, text related to the monuments of passaic Everything was coming apart. Everything was falling. A spinning wind was picking up and whirling: dust, rags, chips of painted wood, bits of gilded plaster, pasteboard bricks, posters; an arid gloom fleeted; and amidst the dust, and the falling things, and the flapping scenery, Cincinnatus made his way in that direction where, to judge by the voices, stood beings akin to him. vladimir nabokov, INVITATION TO A BEHEADING

FIGURE 2.1 Robert Smithson, Untitled, 19641965.

The Crystal Land Smithsons investigation of cultural elsewheres begins with New Jersey. He was born and raised there. His parents lived the rest of their lives there, and he visited them regularly after he moved to New York in 1957. At a certain point, he also began to make regular excursions to the state, alone or with friends, for the purposes of his art. On these trips, he sought out particular kinds of sitesquarries, airfields, swamps, postindustrial townsthat were forgotten, abandoned, or marginalized in some way. Early on, he viewed these landscapes beyond Manhattan somewhat dispassionately even as he brought them back into circulation in a variety of ways. They provided him with a foil for the New York art world, of which he was increasingly a part. Nancy Holt recalls one particular New Jersey trip in which they never let New York City out of their sight. In this and many other instances, New Jersey became a set of opportunities for viewing New York.1 By the mid-1960s, Smithson also conceived of the New Jersey landscape as a mirror that reflected images from science fiction, crystallography, and the work of his contemporaries. In The Crystal Land, his earliest published description of this landscape, he establishes relationships between these images by compiling a chain of formal analogies. The essay begins: The first time I saw Don Judds pink-plexiglass, it suggested a giant crystal from another planet.2 By comparing a work by Judd to a crystal from another planet, Smithson enters the Judd into the lexicon of nonbiological metaphors that he was proposing for his own work and the work of many of his contemporaries at the time, but his network of analogies expands further to include the actual crystals he and Judd collected at the Upper Montclair quarry.3 The view from the quarry cliffs then leads to a discovery of the predominantly crystalline shapes that weave the New Jersey landscape together: The highways crisscross through the towns and become man-made geological networks of concrete. In fact, the entire landscape has a mineral presence. From the shiny chrome diners to glass windows of shopping centers, a sense of the crystalline prevails.4 Later on in the essay, Smithson returns to his reference to another planet by suggesting that the Jersey Meadows would be a good location for a movie about life on Mars: It even has a network of canals that are choked by acres of tall reeds.5 Finally, he brings his chain of analogies full circle to include one of his own works by reproducing a black and white photograph of Untitled in the published article (figure 2.1). This photographic reproduction extends the chain of reflected images to Smithson himself because it includes a reflected image of the artist in one of the sculptures mirrored surfaces. And, just like this crystalline, mirrored sculpture, the essay functions to feed back an infinite number of reflected ready-mades, this time from the New Jersey landscape.6



During the mid-1960s, Smithson uses the term ready-made to refer to Marcel Duchamps work and to Robert Morriss facsimiles of specific works by Duchamp. He also uses the term to describe a general type of contemporary artistic activity he associates with Duchamp. Both as an object and as an activity, the readymade functions as a pun on the Bergsonian concept of creative evolution with its idea of ready made categories. Says Bergson, The history of philosophy is there, however, and shows us the eternal conflict of systems, the impossibility of satisfactorily getting the real into the ready-made garments of our ready-made concepts, the necessity of making to measure. But it is such an impossibility that appeals to Duchamp and Morris. With this in mind, Morriss monstrous ideal structures are inconsequential or uncertain ready-mades, which are definitely outside Bergsons concept of creative evolution. If anything, they are uncreative in the manner of the 16th century alchemist-philosopher-artist.7 In embracing the ready-made as a strategy, the artist can avoid creating anew or making to measure. He or she assumes, like the alchemist, the power to transmit one thing into another because of a belief in the inherent sameness of these things. Alchemy, according to Smithson, is a concrete way of dealing with sameness.8 In The Crystal Land, this alchemical approach to sameness constellates on the level of perception rather than manufacture.9 Repetition at the level of making objects entails doing something over and over again; repetition at the level of perception entails seeing something over and over again. Each image in the essay reflects its predecessor, and Smithson draws all of these perceptions from images already constituted elsewhere. Thus they are sights that are not created anew, not made to measure. Smithsons model for his perceptual alchemy is the satellite. In the margins of a drawing entitled Three Works in Metal and Plastic (see figure 1.26), Smithson notes that it has been reported that the Mariner camera showed Mars to have surfaces like mirrors, and later, when again referring to the Mariner photographs in a letter, he concludes: Sometimes I think the whole universe is a Hall of Mirrors. Reflections reflecting reflections.10 The New Jersey of The Crystal Land appears to be part of this hall of mirrors, but the way Smithson represents it has more in common with science fiction than science proper. More specifically, his description resembles the satellites transforming eye of light in J. G. Ballards contemporary novel, The Crystal


World.11 Tracing the logic of Ballards vision reveals the significance of this type of reflective vision for both authors. The hero of Ballards novel, Dr. Edward Sanders, travels to an area deep within the continent of Africa at the invitation of some former colleagues. Once there, he discovers an odd quality to the light. Soon he realizes that what he had assumed to be its sourcean enormous starwas in fact an old satellite whose luminosity has increased by at least tenfold, transforming the thin pinpoint of light that had burrowed across the night sky for so many faithful years into a brilliant luminary outshone only by the moon.12 Like Smithsons vision of the landscape of New Jersey, Ballards satellite reveals a surface that it has transformed from a purportedly undifferentiated ground into a brilliant field of reflective crystals. And this new landscape or crystal world continues to reflect and expand the effects of the satellites gaze even after the satellite falls behind the horizon. A young army doctor provides the first explanation of the crystallization process in the novel: It is closer to a cancer than anything else and about as curablean actual proliferation of the sub-atomic identity of all matter. Its as if a sequence of displaced but identical images of the same object were being produced by refraction through a prism, but with the element of time replacing the role of light.13 Time, now playing lights role in the mirroring process, renders moments from the past visible. As the past bounces forward into the present, the two time-bound experiences from these two historically distinct points cancel each other out and collapse into an infinity of timeless, almost archetypal images of paradise. For example, on his first trip into the crystallized forest, Sanders experiences a flood of images from his childhood that recall the paradisal world when everything seemed illuminated by that prismatic light described so exactly by Wordsworth in his recollections of childhood.14 And later he experiences a curious premonition of hope and longing, as if he were some fugitive Adam chancing upon a forgotten gateway to the forbidden paradise as he approaches a large colonial house.15 These experiences ultimately prove to be fatal for Sanders because, in abandoning the present, temporal world outside the forest, he also accepts the dangers of the crystalline world rapidly closing in to absorb him: its hazards were a small price to pay for its illumination of my life. He is seduced by the possibility of complete physical and spiritual transfiguration, an afterlife through death that he would experience in the paradisal realm of the distant past. Although Ballards crystal world is far more menacing and seductive than Smithsons crystal land, the structural terms of their respective descriptions of their crystalline landscapes are similar. Both present a closed circuit of reflections reflecting



reflections in which the individuated qualities of time and space succumb to timelessness and a ubiquitous crystalline space. Postcolonial Africa disappears and metropolitan New Jersey flattens out into a uniform crystalline grid in which space-age futures collapse into geological pasts.16 The present exists only in fleeting glimpses of generic images of colonialism, suburbia, or industrial ruin. It has no unique or stable image status. As I stated in the previous chapter, the principle terms of Smithsons system of perceptual analysiscrystals and enantiomorphsmirror each other physically and linguistically as both objects or nouns and as concepts or metaphors. These two terms also provide the basis for the chain of analogies Smithson establishes in the Crystal Land essay. Both Smithson and Ballard reconfigure signification or representation as a fixed set of constantly circling deferrals or referrals rather than as a simple progression from signifiers to signifieds that depends on a specific referent. This is what Smithson means by the phrase reflected ready-mades. Such a strategy appears to dissolve the boundaries between inside and outside the system of reflections through a linguistic sleight of hand since, in Smithsons crystal land, crystals reflect and are the structure they reflect. Their relationships are not arbitrary since they all share the same structure, yet neither are they specific since any crystal will do. This reflective relationship between objects and structures also provides a way of connecting two disparate realities without necessitating a disjunctive gaze into the center of reference where lie the inequalities between images and reflectionsand specificities of both time and place. The specificity of reference is lost because these perceptual conditions are enantiomorphic. Through his experiments with enantiomorphic perception in his early sculpture, Smithson seeks to reveal and defeat the expectations concomitant with anthropomorphic descriptions of vision: I saw all the mirrors in the planet and none reflected me . . . (Borges).17 Yet enantiomorphic vision possesses its own set of conditions and expectations. In 1966, the artist acknowledged this fact: Perception as a deprivation of action and reaction brings to mind the desolate, but exquisite, surfacestructures of the empty box or lattice. 18 Thus, in The Crystal Land, New Jersey becomes an enantiomorphic crystalline lattice that is always ready to accommodate analogical images projected onto it because it is perceived as empty, without a center. Smithson describes it this way: The landscape as a nonbiological metaphor is disclosed in The Crystal Land by Robert Smithson. This landscape has no depth or meaning other than its presence. The center of this landscape is absent, therefore it is enantiomorphic.19 As Smithson gazes across the physical and cultural landscape of


New Jersey, this landscape becomes simply the object of his crystalline vision, a distinctly ordered set of reflected ready-mades and a place whose boundaries are clearly marked: As we drove through the Lincoln Tunnel, we talked about going on another trip, to Franklin Furnace; there one might find minerals that glow under ultraviolet light or black light. The countless cream colored square tiles on the walls of the tunnel sped by until a sign announcing N.Y. broke the tiles [inorganic] order.20

Perspective: The Metropolis To approach a city, or even a city neighborhood, as if it were a larger architectural problem, capable of being given order by converting it into a disciplined work of art, is to make the mistake of attempting to substitute art for life. jane jacobs, THE

In his first essay on New Jersey, if only in the intervals between reflections, Smithson also records the undifferentiated flow of information from geological handbooks, newspapers, juke boxes, and commercial radio stations. These notations act as freefloating textual and aural static that disrupt the artists crystalline vision. Smithson edited most of this material out of the published text of The Crystal Land, but the bits that he allows to remain acknowledge a world at odds with his ordered visual lattice, where experience is diverse and highly chaotic.21 He admits much more of this chaotic material into The Monument: An Outline for a Film, which he wrote sometime in the spring of 1967. In fact, one might say that this material provides the underlying structure and cultural contexts for the scripts narrativea story of the conception, on-site research, fabrication, and exhibition of a landscape project for N.Y. gallery.22 It manifests in the outlines shifting locationsthe apartment of the dealer Virginia Dwan, a station wagon traveling down the New Jersey Turnpike, a turnpike restaurant, the Pine Barrens Plains, a flying saucer convention, a motel, and finally a gallery opening and party; its overlapping images, including shots of the industrial landscape; and its soundtrack, comprised of sitespecific, but overlapping dialogue, conversations about art, art critics, and shows, descriptions of the local Pineys, interviews with saucer-buffs, and rock and roll music by Vanilla Fudge. From this short outline of a film that Smithson never made, one gains a sense that this chaos is culture as it is experienced when one moves from place to place, particularly from New York to New Jersey and back again.



Order and chaos, and the value judgments that were attached to these two terms, delimited the debates over the present and future of what was called the exploding metropolis in the United States by 1957.23 The New York metropolitan area, including most of New Jersey, was a popular case study for this phenomenon. The issue was pervasively discussed in numerous public and private forums among individuals and within organizations representing a wide variety of personal and professional interests.24 Smithson participated in these debates, most directly as a speaker at the 1966 Yale Art Association symposium Shaping the Environment: The Artist and the City.25 The strategies for describing and evaluating that emerged from this symposium and numerous other events and publications provide a historically relevant context for Smithsons own efforts at representing this phenomenon in his work and reveal shared discursive patterns. Visibility, legibility, and what the urban design theorist Kevin Lynch called imageability were the primary criteria used to evaluate the changing landscape of postwar United States. Without these qualities, most critics agreed, the inhabitants of this metropolitan landscape would be lost; they would not be able to negotiate geographically, socially, or culturally. Lynch articulated the seriousness of this concern for himself and his contemporaries: The very word lost in our language means much more than simple geographical uncertainty; it carries overtones of utter disaster.26 For some, this sense of being lost had ideological overtones, particularly in terms of maintaining a coherent identity: People who live and work in an urban area have a deep emotional need to have their city stand for something worthwhile in the world and to present to themselves and to mankind a strong physical image of this spiritual ambition in the structure of the city, in its vistas and in its major monuments. Through these, men venerate the past, remember the achievements of those who have gone before, reach for the future and affirm their self-respect and idealism.27 Although visibility, legibility, and imageability are not synonymous terms, they all signified a visual order that facilitated negotiation of the metropolitan landscape and the consolidation of a coherent identity within it, despite the presence of random or superficial chaotic elements. Bringing the metropolitan environment into focus as a visible and legible image also usually meant describing it in terms of a number of preexisting and often well-worn images or metaphors. These metaphors were meant to temper the newness and strangeness of the landscape by revealing its ordering logic in familiar terms or conventions. Some individuals used biological metaphors to describe the metropolis as a living organism that grows according to cell- or plant-like logic. Others borrowed


organizational structures from the physical sciences, particularly grids or regularized crystalline structures.28 A second strategy was to define the metropolitan landscape in terms of what it was notthe pastoral or rural landscape. In this model, the new city consisted of a variety of futuristic images based on science fiction or technology, and the old city was based on images rooted in the past, ranging from the pastoral landscape of the classical world to the preindustrial village.29 Finally, others drew terminology and categories from modern art when describing the visual effects of moving through the metropolis. These terms usually appeared in oppositional pairs as well. Again, the ways in which individual authors of these descriptions combined metaphors often appear to be somewhat arbitrary. But the poles around which they organized their chosen termsorder versus chaoswere not. For the proponents of imageability in the 1960s, the shared binary structure of these arguments, their dependence on trite visual metaphors, and their explicit or implicit ideological values were the significant shared components of the dominant models of perceiving the metropolitan landscape and, by extension, its inhabitants. In his 1964 text Gods Own Junkyard, Peter Blake exemplifies the conservative response to the new American metropolitan landscape; he expresses despair over its lack of image, its formlessness and eclecticism. Symbolic forms developed for particular structures now appear in random combination with other, previously unrelated symbolic forms, and, most absurdly, Blake notes, many contemporary buildings possess oversized signs announcing what they are because they no longer clearly represent their function on their own.30 Because this built environment complies with no apparent ordering principle or predetermined system of symbols, Blake feels that people can no longer perceive, let alone judge their visual environment. He blames their visual alienation on the metropolitan landscapes creators, people without ties to the landscape or townscape in which they live, people whose eyes have lost the art of seeing.31 This intellectual elite, he claims, has discarded the rational guiding principles of implicitly classical forms to embrace an undisciplined novelty of form and design. The book jacket design for Gods Own Junkyard illustrates the visual chaos Blake deplores in a black and white photo-silkscreen montage of photographs included in the text. The intended effect is a visual junkyard of cacophonous images.32 Other pairings of photographic images inside the book imply that a such a collage sensibility is at the root of the problem, while the clean geometric forms and transparency of high, Miesian modernism uphold the ordered standards of the past. One pair of images in particular juxtaposes a cluttered Army/Navy surplus storefront in San Francisco with a spare and elegant gift shop in New York City. By drawing a



distinction between two major modernist formal devicescollage and abstract geometryand their architectural counterparts, Blake ties the two devices to negative and positive values concerning visual ambiguity or clarity and, in turn, to categories of novelty (mass-culture-based) and classical (high) art.33 His conclusion is striking: For the truth is that the mess that is man-made America is merely a caricature of the mess that is art in Americaand a very mild caricature at that. The inscription on Sir Christopher Wrens tomb in St. Pauls Cathedral contains the famous words: If thou seek his monument, look about thee. God forbid that this should ever become our epitaph.34 The architects Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown view this same American landscape, and contemporary American art, much more positively. Rather than complaining about chaos and blindness, they assume the presence of a syntactical order that has a different, nonclassical kind of coherence, and they discover a new and vital visual experience along what they call Roadtown, USA.35 In their 1968 article A Significance for A & P Parking Lots, or Learning from Las Vegas, the two architects claim that learning from the present, instead of destroying it to establish a new, utopian order in line with the classical past, is an alternative way of being revolutionary.36 They challenge the puritanical position of orthodox modern architects as not only impractical but boring and call for a return to the content-rich, romantic eclecticism of historical reference informed by the example of roadside eclecticism. The only significant differences that Venturi and Scott Brown see between the two types of eclecticism reflect the way architecture is now experienced: The philosophical associations of the old eclecticism evoked subtle and complex meanings to be savored in the docile spaces of a traditional landscape. The commercial persuasion of roadside eclecticism provokes bold impact in the vast and complex setting of a new landscape of big spaces, high speeds, and complex programs.37 Venturi and Scott Brown give the two sites mentioned in the title of their article the kind of analytic attention usually reserved for the grand-scale architectural projects of the past. Two elementsthe sign and the stripprovide them with their greatest insights into the ordering system behind the apparent chaos of the new, highspeed eclecticism embodied in these sites. Signs are crucial in a complex and rapidly moving society; Venturi and Scott Brown claim that Blakes desire for an architecture that formally presents both its function and its meaning is impossible in such a society. In many cases, the sign plays a more important role than the building in informing the passer-by, since it must compete for recognition within the highly charged visual complexity of the strip.


Although the commercial strip appears chaotic, it is based, according to the authors, on a system that is both ordered and inclusive: It is not an order dominated by the expert and made easy for the eye. The moving eye in the moving body must work to pick out and interpret a variety of changing, juxtaposed orders, like the shifting configurations of a Victor Vasarely painting.38 Like Blake, Venturi and Scott Brown use the term juxtaposition to describe the formal configuration of the strip and the visual experience of it, but they see it as a positive development. They even link this visual experience to the paintings of one of the artists most prominently featured by Seitz in The Responsive Eye and thus to that mess that is art in America. Seitz believed that perceptual arts visual chaos or ambiguity provided opportunities for transcendence; his critics thought that it was merely an exercise in visual trickery. In many respects, the value judgments of Venturi, Scott Brown, and Blake are based on the same perceptual dichotomies, and both define the metropolitan landscape in terms of art. Tony Smiths 1966 story of his nighttime car ride on the unfinished New Jersey turnpike is often cited as one of the earliest descriptions of the dematerialization of the art object. It was also one of the earliest accounts of a metropolitan landscape in transition to appear in an art magazine.39 Smith describes moving through this new landscape along a paved road with no traditional markers of space or visible boundaries; only the stacks, towers, fumes, and colored lights of distant industrial complexes and towns punctuate the distant hills. He concludes that this mostly artificial unbounded space produced an experience unlike any provoked by art. The effect was liberating for him: The experience on the road was something mapped out but not socially recognized. I thought to myself, it ought to be clear thats the end of art. Most painting looks pretty pictorial after that. There is no way you can frame it, you just have to experience it.40 Smith identifies other artificial landscapes without cultural precedent that produce this same, unbounded experience of space, as if he were considering these sites and the particular, outside-time and -tradition experiences that they produce as possibly a new category of experience. In suggesting that such a new category exists, Smith echoes the conclusions of Venturi and Scott Brown. However, he doesnt tie this new category to any established metaphors or art historical precedents. According to him, it has none. He isnt able to describe it in terms of the relative dichotomies of order versus chaos since he claims that the turnpike is both



mapped out and socially unrecognizable. Its value is independent of either one of these terms. The sites transitional status, in part, dictates this contradiction. Its boundaries are fragile, and it occupies a space between designated functionsso its ability to be deciphered in terms of preexisting categories, as one thing or another, is temporarily suspended. One is forced to observe it on its own terms, if at all. The unfinished turnpike is the type of New Jersey site Smithson sought outa temporally marginalized, functionless, and traditionless space that is illegible in terms of habituated social and cultural vision. Smithson was evidently quite taken with Tony Smiths night-ride story since he comments on it extensively in his 1967 essay Towards the Development of an Air Terminal Site and a year later in A Sedimentation of the Mind: Earth Projects.41 In both instances, he is attracted by Smiths choice of an unfinished site, but he appreciates even more the way Smith uses language to convey his experience of it. The syntax of Smiths writing and the individual words he uses provide direct linguistic equivalents for the new and raw sense data of the things he describes without resorting to outmoded precedents, art historical or otherwise: Tony Smith writes about a dark pavement that is punctuated by stacks, towers, fumes and colored lights. (Artforum, December 1966.) The key word is punctuated. In a sense, the dark pavement could be considered a vast sentence, and the things perceived along it, punctuation marks. . . . Of course, I form these equations on the basis of sense-data and not rational-data. Punctuation refers to interruptions in printed matter. It is used to emphasize and clarify the meaning of specific segments of usage. Sentences like skylines are made of separate things that constitute a whole syntax. Tony Smith also refers to his art as interruptions in a space-grid.42 Smithson felt that such descriptive sensitivity exposed the reader to the rules of structure based on a change in the semantics of building.43 Such changes, endemic to the metropolitan landscape, remained imperceptible under the old framework of the rational language of tradition and function used both by Blake and by Venturi and Scott Brown. Smithson hoped that these changes would be communicated directly in their own formal terms rather than perceived as fulfillments of established patterns of visual and cultural expectations. Smithson links Smiths reference to his art as interruptions in a spacegrid to Smiths description of his nighttime car ride. He may have also considered


the reference to be similar to his own analogue for New Jersey, a crystalline lattice disrupted by visual and aural static. Yet the spatial experience that Smith describes in his story isnt consistently articulated in terms of such an inorganicand staticgrid. Smith may not revert to the obvious historical precedents of his contemporaries, Blake, Venturi, Scott Brown, and others. But what is fundamentally striking about all of their descriptions, including Smiths, is that they share an unarticulated common ground. They all choose images ordered by orthogonals rushing to some distant vanishing point, often seen through the windshield of a car or from the middle of the street, to illustrate or describe their visual experience of these new landscapes. In doing so, they present these landscapes, and viewers then perceive them, through an unacknowledged visual convention for moving through spacelinear perspective and the car becomes a favored vantage point.44 Blakes first comparison (figure 2.2) consists of a symmetrical view down the length of the old campus at the University of Virginia and a similarly plunging view down Canal Street in New Orleans. Aesthetic distinctions between juxtaposition and geometric abstraction hardly matter when the overall spatial experience is laid out this way. The only significant difference between the two images is in the amount of visual information their respective orthogonals bear. Venturi and Scott Brown also conceive of the strip as a receding set of orthogonals, loaded with information.45 Their first and only two-page photographic view of Las Vegas, taken by Scott Brown (figure 2.3), is similar to Blakes New Orleans image; both are what the authors would call Main Streets, and both visually construct a deep, receding space regardless of whether this space is empty or full. Tony Smith claims that there is no way you can frame it when describing his night ride, but he does indeed contain it in terms roughly equivalent to those of linear perspective. The space of the unfinished highway rushes away along the dark pavement toward an indistinct but presumably existent vanishing point somewhere in the distance. Thus, this is hardly an experience without cultural precedent.46 In his 1967 essay Art and Objecthood, Michael Fried points out the presence of perspective in Smiths descriptionboth as a formal device for describing the experience of three-dimensional space and as a way of plotting the position of the spectator in relation to the experience of this space. In Frieds words: being able to go on and on indefinitely is of the essence. What replaces the objectwhat does the same job of distancing or isolating the beholder, of making him a subject, that the object did in the closed roomis above all the endlessness, or objectlessness, of the



FIGURE 2.2 George Cserna and Wallace Litwin, photographs, in Peter Blake, Gods Own Junkyard (1964).

approach or on-rush of perspective. It is the explicitness, that is to say, the sheer persistence, with which the experience presents itself as directed at him [Smith] from outside (on the turnpike from outside the car) that simultaneously makes him a subjectand establishes the experience itself as something like that of an object, or rather, of objecthood.47 Since it is a convention for describing deep three-dimensional space, linear perspective often implies a destination that is hypothetical. One never actually arrives at the vanishing point but presumably continuously and indefinitely passes through space toward it. This is particularly true if the convention is used to describe or photograph spatial experience from a moving car, as Smith doesand often as Blake, and as Venturi and Scott Brown do. Second, Fried rightly claims that what Smith describes as an immediate experience was, in fact, an encounter with a hidden anthropomorphic projection of himself. Fried states: On the one hand, the turnpike, airstrips, and drill ground belong to no one; on the other, the situation established by Smiths presence is in each case felt by him to be his.48


FIGURE 2.3 Denise Scott Brown, photograph, in Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, A Significance for A & P Parking Lots, or Learning from Las Vegas, Architectural Forum (March 1968).

In a letter to Artforum, Smithson responds to Frieds article: Every refutation is a mirror of the thing it refutes ad infinitum. Every war is a battle with reflections. What Michael Fried attacks is what he is.49 After all, Fried is, according to Smithson, the keeper of the gospel of Clement Greenberg, the author of the most influential descriptions of anthropomorphized space.50 Frieds argument in Art and Objecthood depends on Greenbergs description of the optical mirage produced by modernist sculpture. For example, Fried claims that a three-dimensional work by Jules Olitski establishes surfacethe surface, so to speak, of paintingas a medium of sculpture.51 He compares this optical surface that is more like that of a painting than like that of . . . ordinary objects and other sculpture to what he derides as the latent anthropomorphism of literalist art or objecthood.52 Thus he adopts a description of perception that Smithson reveals in his contemporary writings and work to be essentially anthropomorphic and uses it to expose the hidden anthropomorphism in the work of Tony Smith and his contemporaries. Smithsons assertion that Fried attacks what he is is, therefore, accurate. Linear perspective is the hidden anthropomorphic paradigm informing both Frieds critique and Smith, Blake, and Venturi and Scott Browns definition of the proper or new aesthetic experience.



Smithson was certainly aware of all the texts and images I have been discussing. He made extensive remarks concerning at least two. However, he takes a different approach to perspective when dealing with the metropolitan landscape.53 As I have already stated, his approach is based, in part, on his earlier work, specifically his mirrored sculpture. He uses the enantiomorphic paradigm of vision developed in these works to structure his early descriptions of New Jersey in The Crystal Land. In so doing, he is able to avoid viewing New Jersey through a naturalized perspectival frame. His organizing principles are deliberately crystalline and abstract. In a related text, Smithson even proposes that the view from inside a car could be enantiomorphic if it included the dislocated reflections from the rear-view mirror.54 Sometime in 1967, Smithson began a short essay entitled Pointless Vanishing Points with the claim that modern artists are unaware of the artificial conditions of vision hidden within the theories of space that they embrace. In such theories, mental conceptions masquerade as the physiological conditions of vision by misrepresenting the terms of these conditions. Smithson calls the resulting space of such vision kinesthetic space or what is sometimes called surveyors space : The eyes do not see this kind of space, but rather they perceive through a mental artifice of directions without determined distances, which in turn gives the illusion of infinite spaces. Natural visual space is not infinite. The surveyor imposes his artificial spaces on the landscape he is surveying, and in effect produces perspective projections along the elevations he is mapping. In a very non-illusionistic sense he is constructing an illusion around himself because he is dealing directly with sense perceptions and turning them into mental conceptions.55 Here Smithson not only describes the process of surveying by using the conventional terminology of linear perspective, but, more important, he implies that the conceptual underpinnings of both surveying and linear perspective and the illusions they provide are utopian. Surveyors space appears unified and infinite only because the vanishing point is a mental conception of a hypothetical destination and not based on the perception of a particular place. Smithson notes that he first became aware of the repressed physiological aspects of vision when he built the Enantiomorphic Chambers, since this work divides a central vanishing point into two diverging points and thus calls attention to the structure of a unitary three-dimensional visual field as an illusion: we tend to forget the actual stereoscopic structure of our two eyes or what I will call enantiomorphic visionthat is seeing double.56 This enantiomorphic vision produces an enantiomorphic perspective that differs from central perspective in so far as it is mainly three dimensional and dual-


istic in conception, whereas the latter is two dimensional and unitary.57 He suggests building a three-dimensional structure from behind a two-dimensional image rendered in two-dimensional dualistic perspective. He believed that, if accomplished, this structure would resemble a reversed stereoscopic viewer. One would be physiologically transported behind the fused image of the picture plane, to where the vision diverges.58 The mental projections of surveyors space would have nowhere to hide under such conditions.

The term surveyors space implies more than a theory of vision; it is the practice that brought the metropolis, from its sight lines to its property lines, into view through the production of maps. Smithson rarely used maps in traditional ways. He often purchased road maps of the regions he traveled through; for example, a Hagstrom map of Passaic remains whole and unmarked in the project file for The Monuments of Passaic. But often when he consulted maps, particularly geological survey quadrangles, the mapping followed the traveling.59 For him, these maps were objects in their own right, independent of the places they represented. They were also pieces of paper that provided two-dimensional templates for his designs. Thus the quadrangle maps became working drawings in a number of different ways. Smithsons alterations and additions to a Weehawken, New Jersey, quadrangle transform it into a geometric image that he used frequently in his three-dimensional work during the mid- to late 1960s (figure 2.4). Formal relationships exist between Smithsons map of Passaic and his drawings and sculpture before and after 1967, and by considering some of them together, one can begin to discern the information Smithson wanted the map to convey about the work he was doing in Passaic. Smithson designed his map of Passaic as an illustration for his second published account of a trip to New Jersey, The Monuments of Passaic, by superimposing a black grid onto a black and white negative photostat of a Weehawken quadrangle.60 He then cut the map into a stepped shape which conforms to the squared lines of the grid.61 Although Smithsons published caption states that the map shows the Region of the Monuments along the Passaic River, Passaic and the Passaic River are the only points of reference mentioned in the text of the article that are visible on the map. The maps black, abstract form visually takes precedence over the geographical information it contains.62



FIGURE 2.4 Robert Smithson, Negative Map Showing Region of the Monuments along the Passaic River, 1967.

The Passaic maps predominantly black silhouette most precisely echoes the individual units of Smithsons Alogons. For Smithson, the term alogon refers to something that suspends primary order and rationality and breaks with a gestalt. As I argue in the previous chapter, Smithson deliberately shatters the perceptual paradigms underlying contemporary descriptions of viewing abstraction through the design of his Alogons by rendering in concrete, three-dimensional form the alternating perspective figures commonly used as models for these descriptions. In a 1967 drawing related to a contemporary three-dimensional work, Pointless Vanishing Point (figure 2.5), Smithson refers both to his earlier Alogons, through the shape of the sculptures stepped end, and to the Schrder staircase; his use of hard, clean ruled lines rendered in dark pencil in the drawing seems to be a deliberate attempt to echo the precise, diagrammatic quality of alternating perspective figures.63 However, Smithson does not slavishly copy the Schrder staircase. As in all of his three-dimensional works based on such figures, he chooses one of its three-dimensional imagesin this case, the staircaseand removes the two lines from the original figure that had allowed two imagesthe staircase and the floating corniceto coexist in the visually ambiguous alternating perspective figure. These two lines, which alternately create a back wall for


FIGURE 2.5 Robert Smithson, Drawing for Pointless Vanishing Point, 1967.

the staircase and then establish the forward edge of the cornice, are crucial to the double reading of the Schrder staircase; their elimination allows Smithsons title for the drawing, Pointless Vanishing Point, to make sense. Without the two lines, Smithsons image, in which the perspectival recession of the staircase is exaggerated, appears both as a set of narrow stairs and as a set of orthogonals that have lost their vanishing point. Alternating perspective figures create the illusion of two different threedimensional images through standard one- and two-point perspectival tricks. In Smithsons drawing, the Schrder staircase has lost its perceptual point as well. Smithson extends this chain of formal and conceptual analogies in his three-dimensional Pointless Vanishing Point and in several of the photographic images he takes or directs to be taken of it. One photograph provides a view of the sculpture from its long side so that it appears like a partially opened three-dimensional fan (figure 2.6) (this is the image most often reproduced); the second is an aerial view, possibly of a prototype for the final version. Two other photographs (figures 2.7 and 2.8) clearly reveal the two-dimensional shape of the sculptures stepped end. In one of these images (see figure 2.7), Pointless Vanishing Point is positioned to replicate the 1967 Pointless Vanishing Point drawing; the large, stepped end is close to the picture



FIGURE 2.6 Robert Smithson, Pointless Vanishing Point, 1968.

plane and yet set back on the right-hand side at a bit of an angle so that the stepped orthogonals extend back and sharply up toward the upper right-hand corner of the photograph. In the second of these photographs (see figure 2.8), the stepped end is flush with the picture plane; its two straight edges match those of the photographic image exactly. Together, the two images roughly conform to the terms of a stereoscope cardtwo views of the same object from slightly different points in space. In fact, they resemble one of the first drawings for the stereoscope by one of its inventors, Sir Charles Wheatstone, as reproduced in a book in Smithsons library (figure 2.9).64 But Smithson flips them and, in doing so, perhaps indicates that they are similar images viewed from behind. These two photographs reveal a second flipping as well. In both, the photographer has lit Pointless Vanishing Point from above so that the photograph reproduces the long section of the work as a crisp white shape while the stepped end is cast in shadow. The position of the sculpture in the second photograph heightens the contrast between the bright white orthogonals that appear to rush almost directly backward and the black silhouette of the stepped edge. The dark appearance and apparent flatness of the front edge of the sculpture now correspond to the dark, two-

FIGURE 2.7 (top left) Robert Smithson, Pointless Vanishing Point, 1968. FIGURE 2.8 (top right) Robert Smithson, Pointless Vanishing Point, 1968.

FIGURE 2.9 Stereoscopic pictures from Sir Charles Wheatstone, Scientific Papers, in Harry Asher, Experiments in Seeing (1961).

dimensional shape of Smithsons Passaic map, but with one significant difference. The two shapes are mirror images of one another. The Passaic map is a flipped Pointless Vanishing Point.65 Physically, this situation would extend the pointless vanishing point of the sculpture out into the spectators space and, in fact, place her or him at or at least within the vicinity of its phantom point. Under these conditions of reversed perspective, the map would then become the two-dimensional image projected from this solidified and monocular gaze. Through the sequence of images made up of the Passaic map, the ink Drawing for Pointless Vanishing Point, and finally the photographs of the completed three-dimensional work, Smithson has produced the conditions of the reversed stereoscope viewer he describes in his contemporary Pointless Vanishing Points essay. However, Smithson reduces the binocular premise of the hypothetical viewer to a monocular or single vantage point in the completed work. He made a similar choice in his Alogons to defeat the illusionistic visual flicker of alternating perspective figures. In connecting a map of a specific site with the projected, two-dimensional face of one of these now monocular vanishing points, he implies the collapse of perceptual illusions into a set of two-dimensional images. Such an operation exposes the naturalized conditions of surveyors space. By locating the viewer near a pointless vanishing point and suggesting the projection of two-dimensional images from this same location, Smithson describes a set of perceptual conditions for viewing Passaic that is based on reflected ready-mades, both his own and analogies drawn from elsewhere. And together these ready-mades create an enantiomorphic situation, which, once again, reveals an empty center. In another work executed in 1967, entitled New Jersey, New York with 2 Photos (figure 2.10), Smithson provides a diagram of the terms of this perceptual collapse. He attaches a diamond-shaped fragment of a color map of the New Jersey and New York City area to a sheet of grid paper. This map lacks its central section and thus creates a crenelated frame around the exposed grid paper underneath. Smithson emphasizes the maps framing function by adding several heavy, black ink outlines around its inner edge. The resulting shape of the exposed grid paper consists of four stepped alogon forms, one facing each corner of the page. This image resembles several of the Alogon drawings Smithson made in the small spiral notebook (see figure 1.2). None of these notebook images, however, refers to any specific type of space or location. In New Jersey, New York with 2 Photos, as in Negative Map Showing Region of the Monuments along the Passaic River, Smithson uses the alogon image to frame the

FIGURE 2.10 (see PLATE 2) Robert Smithson, New Jersey, New York with 2 Photos, 1967.

expanded enantiomorphic poles of his two points of artistic reference, New Jersey and New York. Near the top and bottom points of this internal, alogon shape, Smithson has placed two black and white Instamatic photographs. The top image provides a view toward Manhattan through the raised orthogonals of two parallel lanes of a New Jersey highway.66 Presumably, Smithson shot the lower photograph somewhere in New York; it too is a view down a divided highway whose four lanes appear to converge somewhere in the distance. Smithson leaves the mathematical center of the collage empty, except for a double-edged square frame that he has penciled in lightly. All of the markers of a concise description of three-dimensional space are here in the image, except that they converge toward nothing specific or unitary. These images and the conclusions Smithson hopes to draw from them conform to the general sense of alogon as a breakdown of gestalt objects and as a signifier of the surd or movement toward the fringe and the ungraspable aspect of perspective.67 In his Passaic map, Smithson turned a single, monocular vanishing point around and projected it out from Passaic. Instead of being a hypothetical location somewhere off on the horizon, the vanishing point originates with the viewer. And at the other end of vision, only abstract, two-dimensional projectionsalogons in the form of mapsremain. Meanwhile, Passaic, the referent, vanishes. Smithson develops a critique of perspective based on the visually disturbing, three-dimensional models of perspective found in his contemporary multiple-unit sculpture to understand why New Jersey vanishes when he passes through it. Its legibility as an image, a strip, or any other ready-made artistic convention is only apparent. As a lived reality, the street, the city, the metropolis is something different.68 What then does it mean to occupy this vanishing point?

A Guide to the Monuments of Passaic Many subjects had difficulty in making a mental connection between the fast highway and the remainder of the city structure, just as in the Boston case. They would, in imagination, even walk across the Hollywood Freeway as if it did not exist. A high-speed artery may not necessarily be the best way of visually delimiting a central district. kevin lynch, THE

Highway culture is invisible because its taken for granted, except by those who dont like it. lawrence alloway, hi-way culture


On Saturday, 30 September 1967, Robert Smithson boarded the #30 Inter-City Transportation Co. bus at New Yorks Port Authority Building for Passaic, New Jersey, with a one-way ticket. He went alone this time, choosing a route taken by commuters but making the journey in reverse, on a weekend, and without intending to return, at least not the way he came. He carried a copy of The New York Times, a science fiction novel by Brian Aldiss, a spiral notebook, and his Instamatic camera, accessories that together also made him somewhat exceptional and difficult to characterize: businessman, urban anthropologist, or tourist? As the bus made its way toward Passaic, Smithson skimmed through both the newspaper and the paperback and jotted down a list of roadside landmarks in the notebook. After he got off the bus on the outskirts of town, he continued to record the information printed on the signs, buildings, and machines he must have passed, the street addresses of several of the places he stopped, where he ate lunch, and a fragment of overheard conversation. He also shot several rolls of black and white film. Since he went alone, this is all that can be stated definitively about Smithsons trip without relying on his own published account of what happened. On their own, these conditions, actions, and notations are inconclusive, and the photographs are fairly ambiguous. Yet these physical traces, conditions, tools, and actions were not fortuitous and did not lack a larger context. They all can be discussed in terms of established systems, either Smithsons own systems or those of the society of which he was a part. One cannot fully reconstruct Smithsons experience of his trip to Passaic apart from his own account, and the two thingsexperience and written accountare not equivalent. But one needs to recognize that Smithsons essay is a reconstruction of what was a carefully constructed experience. Smithsons spiral notebook provides some evidence of how this worked. The notebook was not empty when Smithson got on the bus at the Port Authority. It already contained an unfinished draft of an essay entitled A Guide to the Monuments of Passaic New Jersey. The existence of this draft suggests that Smithson initially believed that he could write such an essay, or at least a substantial part of it, without making a special trip to Passaic, since he had already made many such trips. At some point, he changed his mind. His list of what he saw on his solo trip to Passaic appears several pages after the draft in the notebook. The chronological sequence is clear because Smithson uses the categories of sights he proposes in the unfinished draft to select and in some cases briefly describe the items on the list he made on-site.69 A second, much longer essay follows the on-site list, and in this essay Smithson places the information from this list into the framework of categories and abstract terms introduced in the first essay. The second essay becomes the basis for his published article



The Monuments of Passaic.70 Through his choices and actions, Smithson transforms an abstract set of terms into a chaotic set of personal experiences and then into a kind of ordered chaos that allows the tension between the two to remain intact. The first notebook essay begins with a catalogue of the five types of monuments in Passaic: Type A, memorials to exhausted meanings or what the-man-inthe-street considers to be a monument; Type B, certain preWall Street crash buildings, which Smithson characterizes as Old Suburbia; Type C, certain buildings of the postWorld War II period, which Smithson calls New Suburbia; Type D, Dead spots, or empty sites such as dry swimming pools, parking lots, and degraded land masses, which Smithson claims seem to exist for a limited duration of time; and Type E, the Ruin in Reverseany new construction that will eventually be completed.71 According to Smithson, the five types may also be found in different combinations, but most of them lack function, and all are detached from any suggestion of nature and given an abstract, cinematized existence because of their shared suburban mise en scene.72 Smithson uses this suburban context and its urban counterpart, New York City, to frame and address a number of experiential conditions. His terms are based, in part, on those he used a year earlier in The Crystal Land, but he is speaking now of New Jersey and New York as elements of a larger, metropolitan landscape that is connected by highways and by social and economic interdependence and that is traveled within and through. The edges or boundaries, the placesand moments where something breaks the established order like the sign announcing New York in the Lincoln Tunnel, become the keys to his investigation of the whole. He writes: A departure from urban to suburban consciousness changes ones [temporal sense]. Travel from urban to urban area keeps one at the center of temporal order, but travel from urban to suburban takes one to the edge of the temporal. The duality between urban and suburban seems especially acute in New York City, so much so that ones consciousness of time becomes dual.73 Smithson describes this dual consciousness in terms of paired oppositescenter versus periphery, solid versus voidand, as in The Crystal Land, Passaic is still something of an absence. Its center seems full of holes compared to the center of New York City, which seems tightly packed and solid.74 But Smithson now adds a temporal dimension to these holes by defining them in terms of his five monument types: these holes in a sense are monumental vacancies that define a memory-trace without any durational space or movement there is the apprehension of the memory of memory.75 Smithson adds that this memory tends to glide forward rather than backward or the future appears to precede


the past. A trip to Passaic can turn one into a time-traveler and take one into a memory of the future.76 As a result of this temporally framed description, Smithsons use of the adjective cinematized to describe the Passaic monuments and their suburban context becomes more precise. Together they conform to the actual, not perceived, conditions of cinema: strips of individual, still imagesholes in the emulsionthat can be projected backward or forward to produce the illusion of movement but that in reality are records of a past passed off as new every time they are projected.77 As film strips, Passaics monumental vacancies also conform to the chains of analogies Smithson compiles in The Crystal Land or to Smiths interruptions in a spacegrid, yet here their alchemical sameness occurs more strictly on the level of structure than on the level of images. New Jersey no longer merely looks like a movie a good location for a movie about life on Mars; it is structured like one as a series of vacancies or stills. And it produces an experience of time equivalent to going to a movie, as described by Smithson a year earlier in Entropy and the New Monuments: Time is compressed or stopped inside the movie house, and this in turn provides the viewer with an entropic condition. To spend time in a movie house is to make a hole in ones life.78 Presumably, emerging from the movie house would produce an awareness of temporal duality that is similar to traveling from urban to suburban areas or back again since the latter, when labeled commuting, is frequently described in terms of making a hole in ones life as well. In the first notebook essay, Smithson contrasts the temporal consciousness that such time travel evokes to the experience of traveling through space that trips from one urban center to another produce: Time consciousness seems not to depend on sensory space, nevertheless space appears to feed on time in an almost organic way, thats why to the space-centered person, space and time appear to be one. Space eats time, said John Exhaustus.79 Distinctions between time and space collapse into one experience in any correctly rendered perspective drawing since the distance traveled in both space and time is identical and an illusion. And here, once again, Smithson is speaking about the relationship between space and time in pictorial terms: The notion of space-travel is representational and concerned with an external unconsciousness that is defined by the language of facts [realism], while the notion of time travel is abstract and concerned with an internal consciousness that is defined by the language of ideas [idealism].80 In the essays final paragraph, Smithson intimates that he prefers timetravel over space-travel for the artist since the latter renders perceptions sub-



jective and unconscious. As with surveyors space, something stands between perception and its object: Indiscrete sensations are felt in place of any simultaneity between perception and the thing perceived, space therefore should be avoided when establishing the limits of time-travel.81 The text is incomplete and trails off soon after this sentence with the final phrase: Picture yourself in the 8th Avenue Port Authority Bus Terminal getting ready to visit Passaic, . . . . 82 This is where Smithsons actual trip to Passaic and his reconstruction of it in the second essay in the notebook will begin.83 The elements of the first notebook essay that I have elucidated here Smithsons catalogue of monument types, his discussion of the dual consciousness of time in the metropolis, and his chosen mode of address to the reader in the texts final sentence fragmentwill all be important to Smithsons second notebook essay and to his final, published account of his trip to Passaic but no longer as concepts and categories provided for readers to use in picturing for themselves. When he turns from writing A Guide to the Monuments of Passaic New Jersey, to a first-person narrative of his own trip, The Monuments of Passaic, the artist adapts these tools to his own use. The chaos of encounter comes to the fore, and the reader reads a reconstruction of Smithsons experience of a particular site on the temporal edge. One can understand how and why this takes place by following the transformation of Smithsons abstract guidelines for others in his first draft into tools that he himself puts to use. Smithson appoints himself an official guide to Passaic and its monuments in an advertisement he designed to accompany the publication of his Passaic article. Its proposed text reads as follows: SEE THE MONUMENTS OF PASSAIC NEW JERSEY What can you find in Passaic that you can not find in Paris, London or Rome? Find out for yourself. Discover (if you dare) the breathtaking Passaic River and the eternal monuments on its enchanted banks. Ride in Rent-a-Car comfort to the land that time forgot. Only minutes from N.Y.C. Robert Smithson will guide you through this fabled series of sites . . . and dont forget your camera. Special maps come with each tour. For more information visit Dwan Gallery, 29 West 57th Street.84 This advertisement was never published, Dwan doesnt remember such tours being arranged or even considered by the gallery,85 and I doubt that Smithson ever intended actually to go ahead with this masquerade because it was too patently ironic and too great a departure from the actual experiences he had in Passaic alone and, later, with


several groups of friends.86 The advertisement copy is also unusual in its complete reliance on a single set of representational conventionsstock phrases borrowed from promotional travel brochures. Smithson usually balances one set of conventions with at least one other, contradictory one. In the advertisement, he intended to establish the contradictions by exaggerating the tour guide references made in his first notebook essay and then juxtaposing the resulting text as an advertisement for an experience that is disappointed in the accompanying article, The Monuments of Passaic. Smithson had deliberately not ridden in Rent-a-Car comfort, just as he had never seriously been interested in asking readers to picture themselves anywhere. In fact, this last phrase in the first notebook essayPicture yourselfwas one of the first to be deleted before he scrapped this essay altogether. Smithsons approach to describing his trip to Passaic in his published text differs dramatically from the seductive simplicity of that of his alter ego, the tour guide, and from the easy analogies he establishes between images and landscape in his earlier New Jersey essay, The Crystal Land. These differences are apparent early in the text in the way Smithson arbitrarily quotes passages from the art section of the Times, glances out the window of the bus, and applies similar descriptive phrases to the things he sees: Outside the bus window a Howard Johnsons Motor Lodge flew bya symphony in orange and blue.87 The collision of the passing image and Smithsons caption is humorous and jarring, similar to some of the asides Smithson includes in The Crystal Land, but here Smithson makes the source of the description much more precise, and how he views the Howard Johnsonsflying by, suggesting a blending of color harmoniesbecomes part of the analogy as well.88 When he picks up the Brian Aldiss novel, Earthworks, he compares the authors description of the sky as a great black and brown shield on which moisture gleamed to the clear cobalt blue sky over Rutherford, a perfect Indian summer day. The landscape of science fiction may still resemble the sculpture of Smithsons contemporaries as it did in The Crystal Land, but it no longer resembles New Jersey. His pairs of images, both visual and verbal, lack fit, and the irony in the combinations is much more obvious now because of the greater specificity of his descriptions of what and how he sees. Not only does Smithson approach Passaic by bus, but he deliberately makes the last mile or so of his journey across the Passaic River and to the towns center on foot. By walking, Smithson slows down his experience of the landscape, and, in doing so, he sees it from the particularly intimate vantage point of the pedestrian. This area was not formally accessible to pedestrians since River Drive, the sole means of access running through the landscape along the Passaic River, was a four-lane road.



Smithson chooses to walk through a landscape that was meant to be seen from a moving car, if noticed at all. In deliberately slowing down his experience, Smithson may have been sympathetic to Tony Smiths desire to counteract what he felt was contemporary arts fascination with sensation overload: I find the bombardment of the senses very disturbing. I am very disturbed if I see something move too fast or something that is too fragmented. . . . the telescoping of images at a pace that is too fast for the senses to grasp.89 But Smithsons manner of slowing things down is different, and it has a different set of consequences. Most significantly, he chose to get off of the bus, whereas Smithand Venturi and Scott Brown and Blakestayed in their cars or at least let cars dictate the visual terms of their experience. For some educators, particularly those dedicated to promoting an appreciation of nature in ever-expanding metropolitan areas, speeding by the landscape between cities and suburbs posed pedagogical problems. Some proposed that nature trails be located near superhighways so that the automobile could be transformed into an asset by bringing more people closer to nature. In a special issue of Natural History dedicated to education, Frank Lutz praises the opportunities for learning provided by the highway nature trail as much more dynamic and personal than a museum: a museum is a place to which specimens are brought and in which they are stored. The nature-trail idea is to leave things where they are but to label them with interesting facts.90 He also states that the labels should give the feeling that a friend is taking a walk with you and pointing out interesting things.91 Such pedagogical patterns of learning through handling specimens and walking along nature trails were familiar to Smithson; so were the natural history and science museums that promoted them.92 In 1969, when Smithson designates a trail for the viewer between the site of his Cayuga Salt Mine Project and the Andrew Dickson White Museum of Art at Cornell University, he sees it as a stabilizing force that eases the viewers transition from one point to another: The route to the site is very indeterminate. Its important because its an abyss between the abstraction and the site; a kind of oblivion. You could go there on a highway, but a highway to the site is really an abstraction because you dont really have contact with the earth. A trail is more of a physical thing. These are all variables, indeterminate elements which will attempt to determine the route from the museum to the mine. Ill stabilize the chaos between the two points. . . . Oblivion to me is a state when youre not conscious of the time or space you are in. Youre oblivious to its limitations. Places without meaning, a kind of absent or pointless vanishing point.93


In Passaic, Smithson counters one metropolitan blind spotthe highwaywith an experience presented as its cure or at least its corrective: a slow, pedestrian stroll through it with a learned friend. In doing so, he stabilizes the chaos between two destinations, New York and Passaic, by physically immersing himself in the perceptual oblivion between them.94 Smithson argues in his first notebook essay that the difference between traveling from one urban area to another and from urban to suburban areas lies in the travelers experience of time. By traversing the former set of origins and destinations, the traveler remains at the center of the temporal order; thus his or her experience of time is unconscious and external because it is subsumed into the concrete representations of the space as traveled through. Changing ones destination from urban to suburban takes one to the edge of the temporal, where ones unconscious acceptance of temporal and perceptual experience as external and spatial is shattered. Smithson concludes: Any reference to space involves an appeal to realism, time as a cinematized abstraction, on the other hand dematerializes the limits of travel, and detaches one from sensations of movement or the need for destinations.95 So in walking across the Passaic Bridge and along the banks of the Passaic River, Smithson literally enters a temporal and perceptual elsewhere on the other side of the moving picture window that the automobile or bus provides.96 Instead of viewing the blur of passing pictures of the landscape that he or anyone normally sees when sweeping past in a car or bus to some set destination, he immediately finds himself inside and among these pictures, but, because his visual experience does not match his expectations, all he can grasp are the pictorial conditions that remain from his expectations, and even these are simultaneously mirrored and turned inside out: Noon-day sunshine cinema-ized the site, turning the bridge and the river into an over-exposed picture. Photographing it with my Instamatic 400 was like photographing a photograph. The sun became a monstrous light-bulb that projected a detached series of stills through my Instamatic into my eye. When I walked on the bridge, it was as though I was walking on an enormous photograph that was made of wood and steel, and underneath the river existed as an enormous movie film that showed nothing but a continuous blank.97 Smithsons terminology here is clearly cinematic and photographic; he rephotographs a reality that already exists as a loop of cinematic film or as a giant photographic image that he can stand on. He also indicates that his eye is aligned with his cameras lens and that both lenses then superimpose images projected by the sun onto his retina. Some of them, like the river below him, reflect a dead blank, like the mirrors of his Enantiomorphic Chambers.98



As I stated in the previous chapter, the stereoscope allows the viewer to create an illusion of three-dimensional space by fusing two, two-dimensional photographs into a single three-dimensional image. The resulting image floats before the viewer, bringing a faraway place into close proximity as a highly illusionistic mirage without requiring any of the inconveniences of physical travel. When he walks across that bridge in Passaic, Smithson forces himself out of the studio and the viewer out or his or her armchair or, by extension, the car seat.99 By breaking free of these highly controlled spaces, he consciously experiences firsthand the boundaries constructed by spatial descriptions of perception.100 Once again, Smithson defies the stereoscopes seemingly natural equivalence to perception, but this time he does it by reducing the stereoscopes convergence of two eyes, two lenses, and two images to one eye, one camera lens, and a series of separate, two-dimensional stills. Smithson simultaneously enters the stereoscopes three-dimensional mirage and walks across its separate photographic images to confirm that the stereoscopic mirage consists of layers of two-dimensional images. Traveling with the eyes and physically traveling through stereoscopic space are not the same thing. In a perceptual no-mans land, with no learned conventions masquerading as the pure conditions of vision, Smithson can see nothing but two-dimensional images and never the three-dimensional reality before him. Daniel J. Boorstin, a contemporary cultural historian, stated the problem succinctly: [As we grow] more and more accustomed to testing reality by the image, we will find it hard to retrain ourselves so we may once again test the image by reality.101 Smithsons own photographs of the Passaic landscape appear to grant the spectator a set of indexical links to New Jersey.102 Yet on their own, as still images constructed by rather stale conventions of picture-making, they offer little information specific to the site. For example, although Smithson states that the glassy air of New Jersey defined the structural parts of the monument as I took snapshot after snapshot, he deliberately shoots the bridge from angles that position these structural parts and their shadows as vectors converging toward single, spatial vanishing points. In one image (figure 2.11), the inside edge of the bridges wooden walkway, the outer handrail, and its cast shadow appear to rush backward into bright hazy sunlight and thus seemingly into infinity. To create such an image, Smithson had to stand at the Passaic end of the bridge and train his camera lens back down the wooden walkway to the right of the main structure of the bridge toward the other bank, from which he had come. Although Smithson has gone to some trouble to construct this and other perspectival images in his photographs, he is left with two-dimensional images of a

FIGURE 2.11 Robert Smithson, The Bridge Monument Showing Wooden Sidewalks, 1967.

convention for describing pictorial space that describe little or nothing about Passaic, other than the fact that it can be represented as such a space and passed through. This is precisely his point. Smithson took a significant number of snapshots in Passaic.103 Most of them are either conventional or nondescript; they resemble other images more than anything else. To establish an art historical pedigree for these photographs, some have compared them to the industrial images of Charles Sheeler and of Bernd and Hilla Becher.104 But these artists present industrial edifices in carefully composed and printed photographs that reward close examination. Smithsons grimy, commercially printed, little Instamatic snapshots are often out of focus, many are underexposed, and one even includes the most pathetic indication of amateurism, the photographers finger. They seem to indicate rather than illuminate their subjects, like illustrations for industrial or instructional pamphlets or magazines or newspapers. And like such images, they seem to possess little independent significance, beyond what is provided by their captions and publication context. Smithson was not alone in producing amateurish or what were considered at the time to be just plain bad photographs. Edward Ruschas 1963 book, Twentysix Gasoline Stations, received this telling review from Philip Leider: the photographs are not professionalmost of them are not even good . . . but the book is so curious, and so doomed to oblivion that there is an obligation, of sorts, to document its existence, record its having been here, in the same way, almost, as other pages record and document the ephemeral existence of exhibitions which are mounted, shown, and then broken up forever.105 Ruschas book, the first of many book projects created by the artist between 1963 and 1972, consists of fairly uniform and straight black and white photographs of twenty-six highway gasoline stations. The captions are also straightforward; they consist of the name of the station and its geographical location, city and state. Ruschas only consistent variation when shooting the twenty-six stations was to alter the angle of his lens from head on to raked. The latter practice produces images caught in perspective (figure 2.12), but again, like Smithsons photograph of the Passaic Bridge, these images embody a contradiction. They illustrate the fact that the stations are part of roadside America and that they can be represented as part of a larger three-dimensional space and passed by, and yet, in the context of Twentysix Gasoline Stations, each individual image is actually two-dimensional and still.106 Twentysix Gasoline Stations and all of Ruschas other early book projects stimulated critical confusion because they failed to signify either as works of art or as documents of social or personal narratives. There didnt seem to be enough to them.


FIGURE 2.12 Ed Ruscha, Whiting Bros., near Ludlow California, Twentysix Gasoline Stations, 1963.

In a general review of Ruschas photobooks, one critic wrote: No one has any idea of what the author is doing or trying to do. Those who have had the opportunity to question him receive answers that only add to the uneasiness.107 This critic never considers that perhaps some of the ambiguity resided in the previously nondescript subjects of Ruschas books or that it might be due to the fact that viewers cannot reconcile their previous visual experiences of these subjectsgas stations, apartment buildings, things thrown from carsas seen in passing from a car or bus window with Ruschas presentation of them as a series of individual still images of one category of things. So they project their difficulty back onto Ruschas images. The critics reaction is not unlike Gombrich or Greenbergs projection of visual difficulty onto abstraction. One can demand order and significance from images; reality is much more elusive. Vladimir Nabokovs hero of Invitation to a Beheading struggles with such disparities between reality and its representation after reading the distant past through a series of photographic images published in an old magazine: But then perhaps, thought Cincinnatus, I am misinterpreting these pictures. Attributing to the epoch the characteristics of its photograph. The wealth of shadows, the torrents of light, the gloss of a tanned shoulder, the rare reflection, the fluid transitions from one element to anotherperhaps all of this pertains only to the snapshot, to a particular kind of heliotypy, to special forms of that art, and the world really never was so sinuous, so humid and rapidjust as today our unsophisticated cameras record in their



own way our hastily assembled and painted world. 108 Smithson uses the last phrase in this quotation to open his essay The Monuments of Passaic. And it perfectly describes his own written and photographic efforts to record and interpret his subject. In describing these efforts, Smithson makes it abundantly clear that his difficulties result from his having been accustomed to passing over the landscape and framing it as a series of pictorial or spatial images. These spatial projections were not the only way to experience the site. He had already described how this works in his first notebook essay: Space has a way of obscuring the M-types of time, so that perceptions become subjective and unconscious. Indiscrete sensations are felt in place of any simultaneity between perception and the thing perceived, space therefore should be avoided when establishing the limits of time-travel.109 In his published essay he interrupts his wanderings in a moving picture that I couldnt quite picture with an ironic, yet culturally prescient discoveryjust as I became perplexed, I saw a green sign that explained everything: YOUR HIGHWAY TAXES 21 AT WORK Federal Highway Trust Funds 2,867,000 U.S. Dept. of Commerce Bureau of Public Roads State Highway Funds 2,867,000 New Jersey State Highway Dept. His record of all of this information creates a physical break in his textjust as it does in mine. It creates static, a disruption, but to Smithsons mind, the most reassuring explanation of what he has yet seen. The sign not only suggests the future, functional form of the site but, headed by the statement Your Highway Taxes 21 at Work, gives the impression that you are behind it all. Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown might call it an example of the way that captions have become necessary to the new, metropolitan condition. Smithson provides descriptive analogies or captions for the ambiguous images he sees in this futuristic landscape, just as he did for the images he saw from the bus window. Motionless construction machinery becomes prehistoric creatures trapped in the mud, or better, extinct machinesmechanical dinosaurs stripped of their skin. Rows of drainage pipes suggest horizontal smokestacks, and their spewed liquid resembles homosexual sex acts.110 But even before offering these specific analo-


gies, Smithson calls all of these imageswhat he sees at the site and what he records with his cameramonuments, and the term functions as a caption for both. Smithson uses his photographs to illustrate the monuments he locates within the Passaic landscape because the photographs are simultaneously as still and as fragile as the monuments themselves. Ones ability to enter this landscape, and by extension, photographs of it, is not determined by perspective or by formal analogies but by temporal consciousness. This is why Smithson chooses monuments as his image category; the term implies moments in the historical and cultural past and the physical points of reference for these moments. As markers, monuments plot out and charge a space with meaning, but in themselves they are simultaneously physically still and yet filled with opportunities for temporal awareness through remembrance. Peter Blake believed that monuments embodied the highest achievements and, in some cases, the only evidence of an individuals or a societys existence. For him, therefore, any deterioration of established standards, based on visual skills, for distinguishing between what could and could not be called a monument seriously jeopardized ones ability to evaluate a culture.111 Smithson also chose monument as a visual category because of the implied value judgment it places on a particular object. But in declaring that almost anything can be a monument, he acknowledged that the category is cool rather than hot, to use Marshall McLuhans contemporary categories for mediameaning that monuments are high in participation or completion by the audience.112 Hot media, on the other hand, do not leave so much to be filled in by the consumer.113 This latter definition would accommodate Blakes belief that monuments possessed aesthetic and historical values, which could be recognized and appreciated but not created by the spectator. For Smithson, spectators not only determine the monuments value but have the power to characterize anything as one. Ruins serve a similar function, and they are often monuments. Times physical alterations to a monuments original appearance permit even looser interpretations of its value or the significance of the past moment it represents, which, in turn, leads to active imagining and even self-serving nostalgia.114 In her Pleasure of Ruins, Rose Macaulay describes such imagining as double-edged, both pleasurable and vindictive.115 Spectators derive pleasure from their feelings of superiority over the past and simultaneous delight in decay as evidence of the ultimate fate of all things, even the present.



Macaulay illustrates this last point by noting the popularity in the eighteenth century of fantasy paintings of contemporary buildings in ruin, a trend with parallels that Smithson would surely recognize in the anti-monuments of the late 1960s such as Claes Oldenburgs Placid Civic Monument and Barnett Newmans Broken Obelisk.116 Both works were included in a 1967 New York exhibition entitled Sculpture in Environment that opened the very week Smithson was writing The Monuments of Passaic. The exhibitions ostensible goal was to expand the boundaries of aesthetic encounter by placing large-scale, three-dimensional works of art in the public domain. August Heckscher, Administrator of Recreation and Cultural Affairs and Commissioner of Parks, stated in the catalogues foreword: to let these great pieces loose in the city, to set them under the light of day where they intrude upon our daily walks and errandsthat causes a different reaction! In the end, however, if this is indeed to be a great age for the arts, we shall all have to accustom ourselves to seeing art and life in a new relationship.117 Heckscher was concerned with altering the context for viewing art, but this change does not necessarily alter the perception of art or the city. Newmans Broken Obelisk is a romantic ruin of a public monument type in every sense that Macaulay defines one. Oldenburgs performance Placid Civic Monument (figure 2.13), on the other hand, occupied public space but provided little opportunity to be seen. The performance consisted of the digging and filling in of a hole in Central Park by professional grave-diggers. A few photographs of the work remain to provide a nonspatial experience of time, what Smithson might call a memory-trace without any durational space or movement.118 The government sign along the unfinished New Jersey highway provides Smithson with the answer to his perceptual confusion precisely because it describes the landscape in front of him in terms of time rather than space and because this description leads him to accurately characterize how his monuments function. They, like Oldenburgs Placid Civic Monument, are ruins in reverse: That zero panorama seemed to contain ruins in reverse, that isall the new construction that would eventually be built. This is the opposite of the romantic ruin because the buildings dont fall into ruin after they are built but rather rise into ruin before they are built. This antiromantic mise-en-scene suggests the discredited idea of time and many other out of date things.119 Smithson demonstrates and then twists the pleasure of ruins to locate an experience of time rare in a landscape normally without a rational past . . . just what passes for a future.120 This utopia minus a bottom, a place where the machines are idle, and the sun has turned to glass produces an experience that is specific to the site and bound to memory. Smithsons Passaic landscape may have


FIGURE 2.13 Claes Oldenburg, Placid Civic Monument, 1967.

been in the process of vanishing, but it was no longer pointless. It encouraged selfconscious viewing. In his 1963 film X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes, Roger Corman presents a cinematic corollary to Smithsons ruins in reverse. Smithson saw Cormans film either during the time he was writing The Monuments of Passaic or immediately afterward.121 The films protagonist, Dr. James Xavier, develops x-ray vision as the result of experiments he conducts on himself to expand the range of human sight. Initially, he embraces his expanded perception, but he soon discovers that it is a curse, and he is forced to become a man on the run. As he flees the city, he gazes out the car window at the buildings that he passes as they dissolve in the eerie light of



Spectarama effects. His companion asks, What do you see? He replies: The city as if it were unborn, rising into the sky with fingers of metal, limbs without flesh, girders without stone, signs hanging without support, wires dipping and swaying without poles. The city unborn, its flesh dissolved in an acid of light. The city of the dead. To achieve this x-effect, Corman filmed a construction site over time and then edited the footage backward. The viewer sees the unraveling of ruins in reverse into the past, which in the film is presented as an image of a future, utopian vision that unravels as well into blindness when Xavier finally, in desperation, puts out his own eyes. As soon as Smithson steps out of his construction site of authentic ruins in reverse, he claims that he is leaving the real future behind in order to advance into a false future, a landscape that caters to more conventional, blatantly false experiences of the future, such as 1968 WIDE TRACK PONTIACS, available for purchase in 1967.122 Near the end of the Monuments of Passaic essay, he describes walking down a parking lot that covered the old railroad tracks that used to run through the middle of Passaic: That monumental parking lot divided the city in half, turning it into a mirror and a reflectionbut the mirror kept changing places with the reflection. One never knew what side of the mirror one was on. There was nothing interesting or even strange about that flat monument, yet it echoed a kind of clich idea of infinity; perhaps the secrets of the universe are just as pedestriannot to say dreary.123 His return to a perception of Passaic as one big enantiomorphic structure is dreary, especially when the town is also understood as a secondary reflection of New York City. Smithson chooses a vanishing point on the New Jersey landscape, a site under constructiona ruin in reverse. Yet unlike Tony Smith, he opens up his site to slow scrutiny on all levels of understanding. He does not pass over or through the image and its contradictions via any one ordering process.

In 1966, Smithson returns to New Jersey as the New Yorker cartoons man in the street. He notices that one finds the same forms and images that the art world claims for itselfrepetitive minimalist geometry and eclectic pop imageryall mixed together in the parking lots and suburban tract houses of New Jersey.124 But when his game of making and matching in New Jersey ultimately fails to humanize the intricate and ugly shapes with which industrial civilization surrounds us in the way that Gombrich and others had intended, one realizes that Smithson is not training the viewer in a new form of visual classification.125 He is pointing out the inherent


fragility of images; they are thin illusions, doomed to fail our expectations, doomed eventually to crumble. Smithsons final line in The Monuments of PassaicThe false immortality of the film gives the viewer an illusion of control over eternitybut the superstars are fadingdescribes his sense of the cultural conditions in Passaic, but it also reflects his attitudes toward perception, art, and society in general. The line follows Smithsons discussion of a final monument, a childrens sand box (figure 2.14). Like all of the others, this monuments discovery sets off a chain of analogiesa model desert, a map of infinite disintegration and forgetfulness, and an open grave that children cheerfully play inthat complete the circle of opposites embodied in monuments and in ruins.126 But most important, the box provides the perfect landscape for Smithsons last camera shot of an entropic eternity, and he finally uses a story-tellers opening to begin his description: Picture in your minds eye the sand box divided in half with black sand on one side and white sand on the other. We take a child and have him run hundreds of times clockwise in the box until the sand gets mixed and begins to turn grey; after that we have him run anti-clockwise, but the result will not be a restoration of the original division but a greater degree of greyness and an increase of entropy. Of course, if we filmed such an experiment we could prove the reversibility of eternity by showing the film backwards, but then sooner or later the film itself would crumble or get lost and enter the state of irreversibility. Somehow this suggests that the cinema offers an illusive or temporary escape from physical dissolution. The false immortality of the film gives the viewer an illusion of control over eternitybut the superstars are fading.127 Smithson is telling a story after all; he is hastily recording a world that is as fragile as the film he hypothetically uses to reverse the future because it depends on memory, the most fragile material of all. Smithsons story is similar in many ways to the one William Carlos Williams tells in Life Along the Passaic River or the one Roger Corman depicts in X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes. All three storytellers are attempting to disentangle their descriptions from nostalgia. Smithson recognizes the corrupted memories of his own generation in a 1970 interview with Dennis Wheeler: Smithson: I would say like the nostalgia for the prewe have almost like a kind of rinky dink idea of nature, mickey mouse, like the people of my generation have



grown up in the industrial blight, and its not like the rustic woodside that we remember. . . . Wheeler: Like lament for something you never had? Smithson: Yeah. . . . 128 Smithsons child in the sandbox, Cormans sci-fi Oedipus, and Williamss equally cinematic description of the boy in the hand-made canoe dissolve false yet satisfying superstar imagessuch as Huck Finn or the utopian destination that is always just over the horizoninto ruins in reverse or what Williams calls modern replicas of the myths of the past, by collapsing the experience of the future, present, and past together.129 As a result, the three story-tellers also suggest that nostalgic images never reflect reality in the first place but reiterate only an inherited set of cultural expectations. What are we learning about New Jersey in Smithsons essay The Monuments of Passaic? The answer cannot be visual skills that favor either Venturi and Scott Browns revamped romantic eclecticism or Blakes rational order. Smithson questions his own motives in a short text he wrote in his notebook before his trip: Is there some kind of secret motive for going to such a place? Is the artist who goes there a debased romantic, or an astoundingly brilliant artist pretending to be a debased romantic?130 In the end, he recognizes both attitudes and vocabulariesromantic and classicto be the same: its not that I consider myself any one of those things, but its the tension between the two . . . the extremity of the two oppositions, the two polarities, uh, setting up this tension of possibilities, so that theres no opting for romanticism or classicism, since both of them are like old chestnuts anyway.131 In The Monuments of Passaic, Smithson juxtaposes the travel narrative with its concomitant typologies of monuments and ruins and the formal homologies of the New York art world with what he actually finds in his birthplace, Passaic, New Jersey. The juxtapositions prevent the assimilation of this industrial landscape into either model or any other binary categories such as high and low art by holding up a distorting mirror to both. The metropolitan landscape is unpleasant, visually and otherwise, not merely because, as Venturi and Scott Brown or even Gombrich would have it, we dont know how to appreciate its unfamiliar visual qualities. Smithsons juxtapositions are so startling and unstable that the reasons one desires to pass over the landscape become unavoidably clear. Some things and the relationships between them are not meant to be seen or to be seen in any sustained manner by certain members of societythose who commute. Smithson is not really making a reverse

FIGURE 2.14 Robert Smithson, The Sand-Box Monument (also called The Desert), 1967.

commute from city to suburbia when he gets on that bus at Port Authority. He is returning home to make art. Dan Graham, a fellow New Jerseyite, later described their roots and interests in terms of class: There was a vital lower and lower-middle-class culture in New Jersey that both Bob and I were aware ofhighway culture. Bobs area of New Jersey (around Paterson) had been an industrial center of America and was decaying into a new mass popular culture which gave birth to rock music, science-fiction, and latenight radio. My area (Union County) was one where people coming from less privileged backgrounds were becoming more affluent and merging into a new middle-class suburb.132 Grahams description of Bobs area parallels the culture Smithson depicts in his film outline for The Monument. In his 1966 project, Homes for America, Graham documents the socioeconomic transformation of his area and its immediate surroundings, its cultural complexity, and his personal stake in it through images and texts that describe the empty standardization of rows of boxy, postwar houses consisting of limited sets of floor plans and color schemes. He originally intended to illustrate this text with images of Bayonne, New Jersey, row houses that resemble the serial images of Donald Judd and that refer to the systems of mass fabrication that produced both.133 At the time he was working on the project, he recalls that Esquire magazine was publishing sociological exposs like David Riesmans The Lonely Crowd. They used photographers in the school of Walker Evans, photographers who were showing vernacular workers housing, suburban housing, but usually from a humanistic negative viewpoint. I wanted to keep all of those meanings but empty out the pejorative expressionistic meanings. On the other hand, I didnt want to go as far as minimal. I wanted to show that minimal was related to a real social situation that could be documented.134 In The Monuments of Passaic, Smithson recognizes that the forms that represent the up to date in the New York art world and the forms that appear in the futuristic utopias of New Jersey parking lots, main streets, and suburban areas offer equally false futures. And the latter spaces would be good places for art galleries; in a manner of speaking, they already are.135 The present and its adjacent future are located not in a set of images or places, since in the case of art and suburban architecture they reflect the same thin utopias, but in a chaotic set of experiences produced by the contradictions inherent to the metropolitan condition. These experiences do not seek to represent what Michael Harrington has called the accidental revolutionthe sweeping technological transformation of the Western environment which has been, and is being, carried out in a casual waybut to make it conscious as an ongoing


condition through lived experiences.136 The political implications for this type of consciousness-raising are elusive; Dennis Wheeler called Smithsons art political by inference in its effect, a description that Smithson did not deny.137 The closest contemporary description of the way Smithsons New Jersey work resonates politically is Theodor Adornos defense of autonomous art: when the social contract with reality is abandoned, and literary works no longer speak as though they were reporting fact, hairs start to bristle. Not the least of the weaknesses of the debate on commitment is that it ignores the effect produced by work whose own formal laws pay no heed to coherent effects. So long as it fails to understand what the shock of the unintelligible can communicate, the whole dispute resembles shadow-boxing.138 Smithson seeks to shock with visual unintelligibility. In his reading of the metropolitan landscape, the tension between chaos and order is never quite resolved. He propels his readers and spectators out of their accustomed categories of visual experience, while refusing to provide an alternative to fill the gap. His work in New Jersey produces autonomous aesthetic experiences, to be sure, but his activities in Passaic also, in Adornos words, point to a practice from which they abstain: the creation of a just life.139



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If all time is eternally present All time is unredeemable. What might have been is an abstraction Remaining a perpetual possibility Only in a world of speculation. What might have been and what has been Point to one end, which is always present. t. s. eliot, BURNT NORTON On the edge of memory, art finds a temporary foothold. robert smithson, draft of incidents of mirror-travel in the yucatan

A Cartographic Premise Smithson held his second one-person exhibition at Dwan Gallery in New York in March 1968. It included six works that were conceived and produced over a relatively brief period of time, about one year. In the gallerys main space (figure 3.1), the visitor encountered five of the works Leaning Strata, Shift, Sinistral Spiral, Gyrostatis, and Pointless Vanishing Pointall of them abstract, three-dimensional floor pieces. Each one consists of one or more folded or stacked geometric shapes made of painted steel, fiberglass, or plastic, and all of them are white.1 Their forms lean, curve, or converge toward an absent point or center, which makes them appear somewhat precarious, but their measured stacking and folding holds them securely upright and in place.2 Despite these basic similarities, the majority of these works dont offer an easy way in, either as a group or individually. Strictly speaking, because of the folding and stacking they are not serial sculptures, in the manner in which many of Smithsons earlier, multiple-unit works such as Plunge and Alogon are. And they dont readily allow for Lawrence Alloways recognition of purpose, which the critic identified as the end result of studying contemporary serial work and recognized in Alogon #2s graduated stepped units.3 The ordering systems or structures underpinning the singleunit works are not legible in the same way. The creases and overlaps hidden by the workss fabrication suggest invisible aspects yet to be discovered if only the works could be smoothed out as diagrams on two-dimensional sheets of metal or plastic. Because of their missing centers or absent points of convergence, the works also appear somewhat incomplete, like fragments of familiar but unrelated wholes. Their titles suggest a variety of physical principles or geological processes gyrostasis, sinistral spiraling, stratification, shiftthat can be illustrated by twodimensional diagrams or three-dimensional models, but such models usually are supplemented by explanatory texts and other types of documents. Smithsons works stood alone in the gallery, except for the exhibitions poster (figure 3.2), hung between the two elevator doors. Visitors to the exhibition would have walked right past this poster on their way into the gallery. But once inside and standing in the center of the galley space, they could have looked back and seen its image of the white silhouette of Leaning Strata framed by the receding orthogonals of a linear perspective grid. The exhibition posters image and the presence of one, less ambiguous work, Pointless Vanishing Point, offer evidence that Smithson based the radiating designs of all the works in the exhibition on some portion of a perspectival grid, and thus the absent centers and points of convergence are literally vanished points. Yet there are still
FIGURE 3.1 (opposite page) Installation view of the first room of Smithsons one-person exhibition, Dwan Gallery, New York, including Pointless Vanishing Point, Leaning Strata, and Shift, 227 March 1968.



FIGURE 3.2 Poster for Smithsons one-person exhibition, Dwan Gallery, New York, 1968.

several important aspects of the workss shared designs that cannot be accounted for. What, for example, determines the different orientations of the rotations of the perspectival grids in each work, especially the verticality of Leaning Strata (figure 3.3), which seems to contradict the horizontal implication of the term strata in the works title? And finally, how does Smithson transform the two-dimensional grid into threedimensional sculpturessince the profiles of the tops and sides of the individual works seem as uniformly calculated as the fronts and backs? The second room of the exhibition contained the key: a black and white photostat of a map, cut in the shape of a hexagon onto which Smithson has drawn dark lines that radiate from the maps center to its six corners (figure 3.4). The second room also contained another floorpiece, A Non-Site (an indoor earthwork) (figure 3.5), whose design is clearly based on the format of the two-dimensional map mounted on the wall behind it. The floorpiece consists of six sets of five blue aluminum bins arranged to form a hexagon around a central, hexagonally shaped bin. The individual bins in each set decrease incrementally in size in all three dimensions in relation to their proximity to the central hexagon, and each one is filled with sand. The entire work is set on a low, white wooden platform. The platform establishes a primarily aerial


FIGURE 3.3 Robert Smithson, Leaning Strata, 1968.

position for viewing the work, unlike the more ambiguous visual orientations suggested by the works in the previous room. Drawings for several of the five pieces in the first room of the exhibition and other related works executed around the same time (figures 3.6 and 3.7) reveal the principles behind Smithsons thinking and the presence of maps as physical surfaces he is working with in 1967 and 1968. Smithson folds or cuts and stacks up flat maps into three-dimensional sculptures, and in doing so hides some aspects of what they were originally meant to communicate. Drawings for Leaning Strata (figure 3.8) and Shift illustrate how Smithson created their three-dimensional designs by superimposing parts of a polar coordinate mapnet of longitudinal and latitudinal lines onto a linear perspective grid.4 In each drawing, the mapnets radiating latitudinal and longitudinal lines cut across the orthogonal grids to create the three-dimensional edgesthe tops or sides of each of the sculptures designs. Thus these sculptures are three-dimensional projections of the intersection of fragments of the two-dimensional grids of global mapnets and linear perspective. Drawings for the other works reveal similar, and perhaps subtler combinations of the two grid systems. Smithson also



FIGURE 3.4 Robert Smithson, A Non-Site (an indoor earthwork), 1968.

FIGURE 3.5 Installation view of the second room of Smithsons one-person exhibition, Dwan Gallery, New York, including A Non-Site (an indoor earthwork), 227 March 1968.

FIGURE 3.6 (top left) Robert Smithson, Untitled (folded map of Beaufort Inlet), c. 1967. FIGURE 3.7 (top right) Robert Smithson, Untitled (Antarctica), n.d.

FIGURE 3.8 Robert Smithson, Drawing for Leaning Strata, 1968.

identified the central importance of mapnets to the designs of the works in a statement included in the exhibitions press release: If the earth is considered to be a planispherical grid map, all rectangular coordinates converge at the fixed points of the poles. At the poles all visual sense of place or site is abolished. Around such fixed points radiate latitude lines; such lines may be extended into infinite magnitudes, and these magnitudes may be compressed or contracted into three-dimensional artifices (the way the planet earth may be contracted into a global map). I call these three dimensional finite compressions infra perspectives, since they dont relate to natural visual conditions or room interiors, environments, places, sites, etc. The terrains are artificial and abstract.5 All of this informationdrawings, contemporary works, and statements helps to explain Smithsons general intentions, yet little of it was apparent when standing in the gallery. Perhaps this was deliberate. It is important to pay attention to the specific experience Smithson set up for the viewer in Dwans two-room gallery space, especially since it was here that Smithson chose to introduce his concept of the site/nonsite for the first time.6 The infra perspectives represent a shift in interpretive tensions since the shared source of their difficulty is less immediately identifiable than it was in the slightly earlier multiple-unit work, the mirrored wall pieces, or even in Enantiomorphic Chambers. Looking at Enantiomorphic Chambers or any of these other works results in momentary blindness and mental confusion, until the mind can catch up and make sense of what is happening. When looking at the infra perspectives, the ensuing difficulty doesnt originate with obvious visual or physical confusion; the works dont provide disorienting reflections of the exhibition space nor do they, with one exception, mock the three-dimensional terms of the room. Works like Leaning Strata do reveal the limits of visual and intellectual comprehension. The apparent contradiction between its geological title and appearance, for example, suggests an uneasy alliance between what the mind knows and the eye recognizes. The exhibition poster and Pointless Vanishing Point suggest more abstract levels of reading by referring to methods of rendering space such as linear perspective that are present in the designs of the works. Collectively, these clues indicate some of the overlapping systems at work but also their lack of a precise fit.7 Smithson developed the designs for his earlier three-dimensional work by splitting apart the superimposed two-dimensional images or the conditions that produce alternating perspective figures or stereoscopic views. This splitting caused dis-


comfort since the resulting works did not meet or fit expectations: viewers did not see what they thought they would see. The works in the first room of Smithsons 1968 Dwan exhibition cause discomfort because they are too inclusive, too layered. The mind has much more to deal with and to reconcile than just differences between perception and expectation, objects and space. The process involves a greater degree of abstract thought, and the physical conditions of the room become almost irrelevant to the experience, since, as Smithson states, the terrains of the infra perspectives are artificial and abstract. He might have added, like maps. Maps are abstractions that appeal primarily to the mind. The origin of the mapnet grid is the globe, which also is an abstraction and not a likeness of the earth. The precise mapping of a location on the earth is futile for some of the same reasons that the precise rendering of a three-dimensional landscape or object on the twodimensional surface of a canvas or sheet of paper is impossible, yet the flat map never masquerades as the site it represents. Illusionism never enters into the mapping process because maps begin and end with their integrating frameworks, the longitudinal and latitudinal lines that comprise the mapnet and that are capable of endlessly contracting or expanding into flat projection maps or spherical globes. Even when cartographers used photographs taken by Surveyor Spacecraft I to map the curve of a lunar terrain that has yet to be explored, they employed such frameworksin this case, selenographic coordinates (figure 3.9).8 By compressing portions of mapnet projections into three-dimensional artifices, Smithson might appear to be reversing the two-dimensional maps transformation of things or places into abstractions. But since his creations are based on the mapnets, they also remain abstractions, albeit three-dimensional ones, of a previous abstraction. They are not returns to some original referent; like the planar projections transformation into a spherical projection or globe, they defer such a return by displacing one abstract representation on to another much like metaphors linguistically displace the sense of one word on to another. In fact, both cartographers and Smithson frequently refer to maps and diagrams as two-dimensional analogies or metaphors for the things they stand for. Smithson often described his nonsites this way: The Non-Site (an indoor earthwork) is a three dimensional logical picture that is abstract, yet it represents an actual site in N.J. (The Pine Barrens Plains). It is by this three dimensional metaphor that one site can represent another site which does not resemble itthus The Non-Site.9 By deferring the exhibition visitors encounter with an actual map until she or he reaches the second room of the exhibition, Smithson deferred any precise read-



ings of the works in the first room, allowing such difficult experiences to precede the encounter with the final work in the exhibition. In his 1966 text Mapping, the cartographer David Greenhood notes that a maps framework is not like the frame of a picture but like the skeleton of a body; its structural. It forms from reference points within itself as well as to points without.10 Without such reference points, the five works in the first room present the structural aspects of mapping, its skeletonthus the prefix infra meaning on the underside, below, underneathas exoskeleton, disengaged from any particular place or site either inside or outside the gallery. When A Non-Site (an indoor earthwork) reattaches this framework or structure to a site
FIGURE 3.9 Spherical mosaic of narrow-angle photographs of lunar scene at low sun illumination, Surveyor Spacecraft I, 1966.

located on a map, two places are brought together, overlapped through a set of comparable structural relationships. The gallery appears as a different set of limits, and its structural logic as a site or nonsite rather than its unique perceptual presence as a set of sights, is revealed as well. In the second room of the gallery, Smithson sets the idea of a designated site outside the gallery in relation to the abstract, cartographic, two- and three-dimensional forms it takes in the gallery. Added to the mix are the conditions under which these two things are experienced in the space of


the gallery, since the gallery too becomes temporarily part of the designation nonsite by containing the nonsite. For the viewer, the attempt to incorporate this complexity into a comprehensive idea of the work creates a tension that is more mental than visual. In bringing these limiting termsinside/outside, site/nonsite, twodimensional/three-dimensionalinto close proximity, Smithson introduces complexity into what might be understood as simple, binary relationships. These paired terms seem more fragile, more temporary, and almost completely dependent on location. Viewers can be in only one location at a time, but they are forced to think about at least one other location and the limitations involved in doing so. In other words, the lack of precise fit becomes the problem in that these places overlap but are endlessly incommensurable, just like maps and the sites they refer to.11 A Non-Site (an indoor earthwork) reproduces more than the mapnet framework; it is also a container. In taking this step from framework to container, Smithson appears to take the cartographers next logical step: he fills his maps empty framework with content.12 In a typed statement included with the nonsites map, Smithson notes that the nonsite contains sand that was collected from a location indicated by a red dot on the nonsite map. Thus, unlike the rest of the information Smithson provides about the site, the sand is not an abstraction. It is material. It also provides evidence that the artist did travel to the designated site. Or does it? Once again the viewer is thrown back to the structural aspects of the site/nonsite situation since they legitimize the sands metonymic authenticity.13 Otherwise, the sand is just sand, which on its own cannot demonstrate that it comes from any particular place. In this sense, the sand is no different than the dotted pattern used to indicate the presence of sandy terrain on a map, a presence that can be indicated the same way at any number of places. The only certainty offered by A Non-Site (an indoor earthwork) is the sands displacement from an earlier position to its current position both inside the nonsites aluminum frame and inside the space of the gallery. And this is crucial to Smithsons central objective in this exhibition: to dramatically shift the reference points of artistic experience through a sequence of repeated cartographic actions folding, stacking, displacing.14

Smithsons shift in reference points can be traced back to a number of events. One of the most important was his engagement as an artist-consultant by the architectural firm Tibbetts, Abbott, McCarthy, and Stratton (TAMS) from July 1966 through June



1967.15 Members of this firm were developing a proposal for the DallasFort Worth Airport and wanted Smithson to contribute to their discussions of what an air terminal means as well as to the overall design of their specific proposal. Through this relationship, Smithson was exposed to a variety of unfamiliar architectural concepts and design and construction procedures, many of them involving maps.16 Also during this period, Smithson was working his way through a number of recently translated texts by key French intellectuals associated with structuralism as well as contemporary essays about structuralism and French literary works and films associated with it. These two activitiesSmithsons work with TAMS and his engagement with structuralismwere intertwined. Smithson wrote a series of essays and initiated a number of other projects in 1966 and 1967 related to his experiences working with TAMS. Each is a manifestation of one or more aspects of his process of thinking about the conceptual and practical problems that the air terminal posed through a kind of structuralist activity.17 His process of thinking about and mapping out the air terminal through structuralist strategies was crucial for most of his later projects, including his nonsites, mirror displacements, and earthworks.

The Terminal View Nothing sorts out memories from ordinary moments. Later on they do claim remembrance when they show their scar. chris marker, LA

Chris Markers 1964 film La Jete opens with a sequence of images of an air terminal and the following voice-over narration: This is the story of a man, marked by an image from his childhood. The violent scene that upset him, and whose meaning he was to grasp only years later, happened on the main jetty at Orly, the Paris airport, sometime before the outbreak of World War III. Orly, Sunday. Parents used to take their children there to watch the departing planes. On this particular Sunday, the child whose story we are telling was bound to remember the frozen sun, the setting at the end of the jetty, and a womans face. Nothing sorts out memories from ordinary moments. Later on they do claim remembrance when they show their scars. That face he had seen was to be the only peacetime image to survive the war. Had


he really seen it? Or had he invented that tender moment to prop up the madness to come? The sudden roar, the womans gesture, the crumpling body, and the cries of the crowd on the jetty blurred by fear. Later, he knew he had seen a man die.18 In these opening scenes, two senses of a terminal view converge as visual memoriesa view of an air terminal and a view of a death, a termination or terminal view. The dilemma for the narrator, who is also the protagonist of the film, consists of not being able to understand the significance of these memory images or why they survived. In the films final frames, he returns to the original time and place of these visual memories, but now as a grown man. His memories of the past converge with his experiences of the same sequence of events in the present, and he finally receives an answer to his questions. La Jete was an important film for Smithson; he borrows aspects of its structure and subject matter in a number of his own works. Yet beyond identifying these quotations and affinities, a more fundamental set of questions might be asked: what does Smithsons terminal view look like, and is it, like Chris Markers, both a view of a terminal and a terminal view? At first, Smithsons view of a terminal appears to possess only two dimensions. In 1966, Tibbetts, Abbott, McCarthy, and Stratton (TAMS) published a prospectus for the DallasFort Worth airport that includes reproductions of the slides they used in their presentation of their project design to the top management of the airlines that serve the DallasFort Worth region. This document, entitled Terminal Area Concepts, contains limited descriptive texts since, in the words of the architects, these charts and diagrams are largely self-explanatory.19 Smithson added his own visual concepts to his copy of this documents master plan (figure 3.10). They include four types of earthworksa square of red rocks, a rectangle of yellow rocks, a spiral of blue rocks, and five circular mounds of white sandeach precisely rendered in pencil with ruler and compass so that the forms are integrated into the overall printed plan. As built forms, Smithson also intended for these earthworks to conform to the terminals functional specifications by indicating on the plan that they could be no more than five feet in height, which is well below the sight lines needed by the pilots and air controllers to guide the terminals air traffic in and out of the airport. Smithson devised a method for bringing the four earthworks inside the terminal via television cameras that were positioned adjacent to each and that would transmit their images to monitors located in a central museum inside the terminal, which he labeled the terminal museum, an intentional double play on the



word terminal in terms of the museums physical location and its status as the final museum. Smithsons contributions to a second set of printed airport plans entitled Texas Airport (figure 3.11) are so modest that they are practically invisible. Here again he uses pencil to make crisp, clean, spiraling lines around, within, or beside each plan and to place dots at the ends of runways or at regularly spaced intervals along the edges of the plans long, straight elements. Once the drawing is reproduced in photographs or photocopied, all the subtle distinctions between the printed and hand-drawn lines and dots disappear; Smithsons added embellishments merge with the formal elements of the original plans. In contrast, Smithsons formal additions to the Terminal Area Concepts prospectus communicate in a language drawn from
FIGURE 3.11 FIGURE 3.10 (opposite page) (see PLATE 3) Robert Smithson, drawing in Terminal Area Concepts, Tibbetts, Abbott, McCarthy, and Stratton, c. 1966.

abstract painting, which, when added to the two-dimensional airport plan, suggest reading the latter as a two-dimensional modernist grid.20 The individual abstract

Robert Smithson, Texas Airport AP 10, 1966.



forms, when viewed in the terminal museum, or the overall abstract grid, when viewed from an ascending or descending airplane, would integrate the visual language of one domain, the art gallery or museum, into the viewing conditions of another, the air terminal. This scheme is prophetic; Smithson appears to be already working with formsthe spiraland conceptsinside/outsidethat will be fundamental to his earthworks and nonsites. But the visual connections here are awkward. Such a reading would be largely irrelevant to the site and its function and would not be evident to a majority of its intended audience in this context. In Texas Airport, on the other hand, Smithsons additions disappear into the overall original plans of the individual terminals, with little or no effect. In spite of these problems, the two drawings establish the outermost perimeters of what will become two of the key terms of his working method at the air terminal siteaccommodation and transformation. Through his drawing style in both drawings and his accommodation of the necessary sight lines of an air terminal in the Terminal Area Concepts master plan, Smithson acknowledges through reiteration that he is working within systems of architectural rendering and air traffic control whose visual terms and conditions have already been established. In setting up a situation in which two sites, one inside and the other outside the terminal, come together, he acknowledges a third condition of the air terminalvisual convergence. As one travels in and out of an airport, one views the air terminal from a sequence of different points of viewfrom the air above the terminal, from the ground out on the airfield, and from inside the main air terminal building. Each of these points of view provides a different image. From the air, the terminal appears as a cluster of two-dimensional shapes and lines, and from the tarmac or from inside the main terminal building, most of the terminals structures appear as three-dimensional forms. At some point during the planes descent or ascent, these two sets of images momentarily converge and then transform into either two-dimensional or three-dimensional images depending on the upward or downward direction of ones movement. In Terminal: Plans for DallasFort Worth Regional Airport (figure 3.12), Smithson provides a diagram of such convergences and transformations. His diagram contains a sequence of terminals, arranged horizontally along a central vertical axis. Each terminal consists of a long rectangle labeled terminal, with several adjoining squares on one side and a set of connected parallel lines that gradually shift to the left or right on the other. Together, the parallel lines and the rectangular terminal shape create an image that appears to fold out or back in space like an accordion. Smithson presents an analogous conception of stacking in a contemporary three-dimensional


work (figure 3.13). This work consists of rectangular mirrored glass plates, cut to the same dimensions and stacked on top of each other to create a solid rectangular tower. The terminal buildings dont actually unfold or stack up as one descends into an airport; Smithsons stacked mirrors and his drawing Terminal: Plans for DallasFort Worth Regional Airport are diagrams of the visual convergence and transformation of two-dimensional planes into three-dimensional forms. Both diagrams evoke a relatively invisible visual condition of the air terminal. They also evoke a relatively invisible process of transforming the air terminal site into a photographic image. When Smithson began working with TAMS, he wanted to make work that would accommodate and reveal the visual conditions of the air terminal as a working facility, and he also wanted to make art that would speak about the invisible materials and processes that helped to bring the terminal into existence as visual form. Aerial photography provided the first comprehensive images and aerial viewsof the terminal site. Aerial photographs are composite images, the products of overlapping photographic images, all of them taken from a plane flying according to a designated flight plan over a particular site (figure 3.14). An airplane flies over a predetermined line while individuals positioned at strategically spaced
FIGURE 3.12 (top left) Robert Smithson, Terminal: Plans for DallasFort Worth Regional Airport, 1966. FIGURE 3.13 (top right) Robert Smithson, Untitled, c. 1966.



points on the ground below monitor the pilots ability to remain on axis. Two or four cameras, mounted on the planes underside and situated at different angles to produce a wide arc of vision, automatically and simultaneously shoot sets of images at intervals regulated by a timer on each camera. The resulting sequence of photographic
FIGURE 3.14 (top left) Diagram showing how photographic shots are overlapped in aerial mapping, in David Greenhood, Mapping (1964). FIGURE 3.15 (top right) Diagram showing the stereographic production of contour maps, in David Greenhood, Mapping (1964). FIGURE 3.16 (opposite page) Robert Smithson, Glass Stratum, 1967.

negatives are then overlapped to create a mosaic photomap of a particular site. Cartographers then use these same negatives to produce geological survey maps of the area. First, they identify the objects in aerial photographs so that they can correctly orient their readings according to cartographic principles, but their primary task is to recognize the overall three-dimensional aspects of the photographed terrain. According to Greenhood, a skilled photo-interpreter can train his eyes to see the pictures stereoscopically even though he also uses various stereoscopic devices. These grow up into the complicated instruments of stereophotogrammetry, which plots out from the photograph the points and lines for showing on the map the relief with precision.21 These instruments reverse the process used to create the aerial photographs (figure 3.15). Copies of paired sets of individual aerial photographs are inserted into projectors whose positions and arcs of vision correspond to the positions and arcs of vision of the cameras mounted on the airplanes. The photographs are then projected

onto a tracing table, and the position and elevation of every point of the subject of the photograph are plotted through the intersection and transformation of the two images into a three-dimensional image. Although Smithsons library provides ample evidence that he was aware of how aerial photographs and geological survey maps are made, his Glass Stratum and Mirror Stratum provide another, more intriguing kind of evidence. Early on, Smithson made a few of these works by stacking pieces of mirrored glass of equivalent sizes and shapes, but he produced most of them by stacking or overlapping glass plates of incrementally smaller dimensions (figure 3.16). The result visually evokes a crosssection of the strata of a contoured landscape at the same time that it suggests the stacking of glass negatives. Smithson also suggests his awareness of the process by which geological survey maps are generated from the stacking and overlapping of aerial photographic negatives when he reverses this process in another work, Untitled (Map on Mirror-Passaic, New Jersey) (figure 3.17). This work consists of seven square pieces of stacked glass of incrementally decreasing sizes. Smithson has mounted a black and white photocopy of a square section of the Weekhawken, New Jersey quadrangle, also in equivalently decreasing size, on the flat surface of each

FIGURE 3.17 Robert Smithson, Untitled (Map on Mirror-Passaic, New Jersey), 1967.

stacked glass piece.22 The completed work reveals that a map is a collapsed threedimensional image by reversing the processby building the maps two-dimensional surface back up into a three-dimensional contour or, to tie this operation back to Smithsons terminal forms in Terminal: Plans for DallasFort Worth Regional Airport (see figure 3.12) by spreading the map out like a deck of cards. To enhance this fleshing out process, Smithson also cuts away the section of map that represents the Passaic River to expose the silvery reflections of the mirrorized glass underneath. The aerial photographic process mirrors Smithsons method of representing visual convergence and transformation. His air terminal develops into an image through symmetrical layering; in using glass, he refers not only to the overlapping or stacking of forms but also to negatives, which are often made of glass and laid on top of one another to produce a thick image. Smithson produced the works I have been discussing during or in the months directly after his period of employment by TAMS. Throughout his experiments with the air terminals visual conditions and the available processes for visualizing the air terminal and its terrain, Smithson deals with convergencesoutside to inside, above to below, and two-dimensional image into three-dimensional object and vice


versa. And he derives all of the terms for articulating these convergences from the visual conditions of the air terminal itself or from the materials used by architects and engineers to render it visiblein other words, its visual rhetoric.

In 1966, Smithson began to describe landscapes located on the periphery of Manhattan in terms of formal and structural analogies drawn from his work and that of his contemporaries. Smithsons 1966 essay The Crystal Land was the result of one such reading. Throughout his work on the air terminal, Smithson also sought to establish formal and structural analogies, and yet because he was being asked to consider unfamiliar terrain, design materials, and procedures and actually to build something on this terrainneither condition is the case in his contemporary work in New Jersey the analogies did not come easily. The air terminal project presented its own set of problems that Smithson needed to work on from the inside out by rethinking how he should view and mark such unknown terrains. One solution was to accommodate and reiterate the visual conditions of the air terminal. A second solution entailed reading the terminal as if it were a text and reiterating its linguistic rules of functioning. Analogies to his work and the work of his contemporaries arose from this reading process, but these analogies were more conceptual than formal, and they emerged out of linguistic models of replication rather than as strictly mirror images or facets of a crystalline lattice. In other words, Smithsons air terminal analogies were more properly structuralist. The term structure was already a familiar and even an overused term in the New York art world by 1966.23 It had appeared in the titles of a number of important exhibitions, including Art in Process: The Visual Development of a Structure and Primary Structures: Younger British and American Sculptors, and in the writings of a wide variety of critics and artists, including Smithsons early essays. Some used the noun structure, instead of sculpture, to indicate a general category of art or to describe the change in painting from a flat surface to a constructed form;24 others used structure as an adjective to describe an individual works formal appearance, to suggest its relationship to mathematical or scientific models or to imply its nonanthropomorphic occupation of space;25 and still others used structure as both a noun and an adjective, as in Morriss statement: The word structure applies to either anything or to how a thing is put together.26 None of these uses necessarily reflects a conscious application of structuralist theory, yet some of them, particularly Morriss



definition, suggest a formal predisposition to such thinking that will be more clearly articulated later on. For example, in his 1967 essay Notes on Sculpture: Part 3, Morris writes: The most obvious unit, if not the paradigm, of forming up to this point is the cube or rectangular block. This, together with the right-angle grid as method of distribution and placement, offers a kind of morpheme and syntax that are central to the cultural premise of forming.27 Morris provides a formal description of cubes or blocks here, but his linguistic analogy manifests what Roland Barthes has called the rules of functioning (the functions) of this object, a goal of structuralist activity. Similar shifts occur in Smithsons thinking and in his work as well, and his efforts to read the air terminal provided the necessary context. Throughout, he rarely discards a physical sense of structure for a purely linguistic one. His readings of structural theory emerge in concrete visual analogies, now inflected with the capacity to signify.28 Smithson developed several interrelated approaches to reading the air terminal. They all appear in their earliest form in an unpublished 1966 or 1967 essay entitled The Artist as Site-Seer or Coded Environments, and all are based on models of replication developed by a variety of individuals toward different theoretical ends. Smithson disregards the disparate aims of these individuals to focus on the parallels he recognizes in their chosen meansreplicationsince he believes that these parallels belie what they all truly share, the same degree of esthetic awareness of how things can be read.29 Smithson calls his first approach the coded environment. He introduces it through a quotation from J. G. Ballards novel Terminal Beach: The system of megaliths now provided a complete substitute for those functions of his mind which gave to it its sense of the sustained rational order of time and space, his awareness kindled from levels above those of his present nervous system (if the automonic system is dominated by the past, the cerebro-spinal reaches toward the future). Without the blocks his sense of reality shrank to little more than the few square inches of sand beneath his feet.30 In this text, Ballard describes a built environmentthe system of megalithsthat hovers between concept and reality, yet because his protagonist cannot establish a reasonable distance from this environment without severely compromising his sense of reality, he is in no position to choose between the two. For Smithson, coded environments, such as Ballards fictional megaliths and their material counterparts at Stonehenge, provide alternatives to more utilitarian approaches to reading the environment since the order of their experience springs from a transcendent enigma that is prior to all empirical theory.31 These environments are synthetic


but never secondary to something one might call an original or a referent. They reconstitute the real as information in which the real is fundamentally implicated. One cannot stand outside one to judge its veracity in relation to the other because there is no such space or rational rule of measure. For example, Smithson states that far from being a primitive Druid Temple, Stonehenge was a veritable Neolithic computer capable of predicting eclipses and following solstices and equinoxes.32 Thus as a communication channel, such a coded environment has no clearly delineated inside or outside that distinguishes it from the environment it codes, just the limits or boundaries of its own framing edge through which the environment is coded. Smithson acknowledges that his conception of the coded environment is analogous to Roland Barthess simulacrum of the object, a structuralist reconstruction that manifests an objects invisible rules of functioning.33 According to Barthes, it is intellect added to object, a replication with something new that is intelligible at the time of reconstitution but not meant to last. Structuralism itself is a certain form of the world, which will change with the world; and just as [man] experiences his validity (but not his truth) in his power to speak the old languages of the world in a new way, so he knows that it will suffice that a new language rise out of history, a new language which speaks him in his turn, for his task to be done.34 Such time-bound reordering permits Smithson to read structures such as Stonehenge in terms of a contemporary functional analogy, the computer, and not presume that this reading has anything to do with a neolithic experience of this object or with experiences of it in the distant future.35 The prime object is a second category of objects possessing enigmatic origins that Smithson discusses in The Artist as Site-Seer or Coded Environments. He derives this conception from George Kublers text The Shape of Time: Remarks on the History of Things.36 Kublers primes consist of the rare, great monuments in the history of art: the Parthenon, the portal statues at Rheims, the frescoes of Raphael, and many others that have been lost or destroyed over time. These primes, like their mathematical namesakes, prime numbers, are enigmatic because no rule can predict either their appearance or their sequence (the order in which they will appear). Few remain in completely manifest form, and most of them are known only through replications or what Kubler calls the replica-massthe entire system of replicas, reproductions, copies, reductions, transfers, and derivations, floating in the wake of an important work of art.37 Some replicas in this replica-mass reproduce the prime completely; others alter it slightly so that in time what Kubler refers to as the replicas drift from the



prime is recognized by an artist who imposes on the mass of replicas a new scheme manifested as a prime object not categorically different from the preceding prime object, yet historically different in that it corresponds to a different age in the formal sequence to which both prime objects belong.38 Smithson rehearses all these qualities of the prime object by piecing together individual sentences and phrases from Kublers text and by acknowledging the source of some but not all of them.39 In the process, he alters Kublers argument by downplaying his distinctions between prime and replica: What Kubler suggests in his theory is an equality between the prime and the replication that maintains itself throughout the monotony of Historical Drift. 40 Kubler concedes that identifying primes among accumulated replicas can be extremely difficult and sometimes impossible, but he never describes them as equal. Smithson doesnt elaborate on why or how he sees them as equal, but he does proceed to pair particular primes with work by his contemporaries: Stonehenge with Robert Morriss circular earthworks, Alexander Graham Bells lattice structures with Sol LeWitts modular sculpture. Smithson brings Kublers prime object into his discussion of coded environments to justify Robert Morriss interest in building the edge-ring of Stonehenge.41 He states that since very few primes survive, . . . it seems only logical for Morris to want to build the edge-ring of one of the worlds most completely manifest prime objectsStonehenge.42 But he never defines the status of Morriss edge-ring in relation to Stonehenge in terms of Kublers categories. Is Morris interrupting the drift to introduce another prime in the formal sequence to which Stonehenge also belongs, or is he just producing another replica in the mass? These distinctions dont seem important to Smithson, except in terms of their temporal sequence as members of the same formclass, another way that Kubler describes family relationships between primes and between primes and their replicas. This lack of independent specificity is what Smithson likes about Kublers model in general; all of its terms are relative even if some are more significant than others. When introducing his discussion of the Great Pyramid, Smithson states: The Great Pyramid would qualify as a prime object, but would not as a Juddian specific object. 43 Donald Judds specific objects present the viewer with a unitary wholeness of forms, materials, and images that is manifest in individual works; the thing as a whole, its quality as a whole, is what Judd finds interesting.44 Kubler bases his categories of prime and replica on comparative distinctions between them in terms of quality, historical circumstances, and degree of intention. They are manifest as specific things or aspects of things but cannot be experienced solely as such. In


other words, they are never whole; in fact, they can be confined to minute fragments or prime traits of an object.45 Smithson takes Kublers formula one step further by eliminating the hierarchical implications of Kublers two categories, at least in terms of the work of the contemporary artists that he links with his designated primes. Instead of replications or new primes, the works by his contemporaries function more like repetitions or even reconstructions of primes in Barthess sense of a simulacrum of the object. Morris wants to build Stonehenges edge-ring, the primes mound-like fringes, and not its megalith rings. In doing so, he works on a traditionally less noticed aspect of the primeperhaps the prime traitand renders this aspect visible, thus clarifying the primes overall rules of functioning. In the paragraph following his discussion of Kublers prime objects, Smithson asks if the ciphers, glyphs, and symbols carved onto another set of Ballards fictional megaliths could be the millions of utterances that Kubler speaks of in reference to the replica-mass. In linking replicas with the integers of written communication through Kublers own metaphor, Smithson suggests Kublers dependence on linguistic models, particularly linguistic drift, in conceiving his history of things and their analogous historical drift, and an interchangeability between material objects and language, communication and function.46 Smithson ties this sense of interchangeability to his third model of replication, which he derives from the activities of Alexander Graham Bell. He claims that Bell is the first structuralist to deal with language in a concrete way.47 In an endnote to this statement, he adds: Define Bell by Roland Barthes structuralist activity . . . by the controlled manifestation of certain units and certain associations of these units, and then he continues in the main text with a description of how Bell traced sounds onto the surfaces of smoked glass with a device called a phonautograph and then measured the phonautographs marks with another device called a spectrograph, which stacks successive instants of speech and makes it possible to read the stacked spectra, and identify the syllables, words, or sentences visually.48 Bells three-dimensional tetrahedronal lattice structures duplicate this phonetic logic because they also consist of repeated, stacked modules. Smithson calls Bells kites made out of these lattice systems flight texts (figure 3.18). Smithson emphasizes the linguistic aspects of Bells work to provide more examples of Barthess structural activity, but he specifically wants to demonstrate how, through such activity, the way language functions as accumulated material units also becomes visible. For a structuralist, all operations on an object lead back to this linguistic analogy of function, and Smithson needs to make this clear to conclude at the end of his essay: To talk constantly about seeing is a linguistic problem not a visual



FIGURE 3.18 Photograph of Alexander Graham Bell with his tetragonal lattice kites, in Robert Smithson, Towards the Development of an Air Terminal Site, Artforum (Summer 1967).

problem. All abstract concepts are blind, because they do not refer back to anything that has already been seen. The visual has its origin in the enigmas of blind order which is in a word, memory.49 He concludes: When art and memory combine, we become aware of the syntax of communication.50 Seeing the environment, therefore, is akin to reading it, an activity that occurs in time as well as in space. It is no accident that Smithson discusses works by three of this contemporariesCarl Andre, Sol LeWitt, and Robert Morrisin The Artist as Site-Seer or Coded Environments. This text was a preliminary version of his major published essay on the air terminal project, Towards the Development of an Air Terminal Site, and all these artists were then currently involved in developing aerial art projects for the DallasFort Worth Air Terminal. As early as April 1967 and perhaps earlier, Smithson, Andre, and Morris traveled to the Pine Barrens in New Jersey to look for a site for an outdoor exhibition to be based on their aerial art projects.51 The exhibition, ultimately entitled Aerial Art, was planned to open indoors at Dwan Gallery, New York, in September 1967. Although it never took place, enough related drawings and essays remain to piece together what the built equivalents to Smithsons simulacrum of the air terminal might have looked like. Robert Morriss proposal, Project in Earth and


Sod, was to be his realization of Stonehenges edge-ringa circular earth mound, trapezoidal in cross-section and covered with sod.52 Carl Andre intended to hire a contractor to place and fuse an explosion powerful enough to create a crater twelve inches deep and 144 inches in diameter. Sol LeWitt planned to bury a six-inch wooden cube, containing something and encased in cement, three feet underground at an undesignated spot.53 Smithsons initial proposal consisted of seven square aerial pavements of graduated sizes from three to fifteen feet square, each to be made of sixteen-inchthick asphalt paving. The pavements were to be aligned along one eighty-one-foot line and spaced three feet apart.54 Although Smithson could link only Morriss proposal to a specific prime from the past in The Artist as Site-Seer, he could identify the other projects as replicas of aspects of a new prime, the air terminal itself. Each artist isolates discrete aspects or stages of the surveying or building processgrading and shaping the lands contours, sodding it, creating subterranean spaces through explosions, boring for soil samples and then filling in the holes, and pouring out asphalt runwaysso that these aspects or stages of the terminals design and construction could, in Smithsons own words, be viewed as an array of art works that vanish as they develop, just as the process of constructing the terminal did.55 Only now the proposals render these aspects or stages of construction visible as a set of forms to be replicated or worked on and as a set of rules of functioning. And because Smithson intended that all of the proposed projects be built on the unusable fringes of the site before major construction of the terminal building began, they would reiterate the physical limits of the site as well as its syntax. They would transform it into a coded environment. Initially, Smithson intended to cover the entire floor of Dwan Gallerys exhibition space with an enlarged map of the air terminal site and to position scale models of each of the participating artists proposals on it.56 This arrangement would have established an aerial viewpoint for both the site and the models that would echo the visual conditions of the air traveler hovering in an airplane above the terminal site. But it also would have placed spectators inside the site or at least inside a logical twodimensional pictureof the site. These conditions are somewhat analogous to those Smithson sets up in the Terminal Area Concepts drawing; in the Dwan exhibition, the viewer stands in a gallery in New York and looks at a picture of an air terminal site somewhere on the periphery of DallasFort Worth, whereas in the drawing Smithson indicates that the viewer was to stand inside the terminal museum and view pictures of earthworks situated on the terminal sites periphery. The gallery viewer is able to see more sites at once in the installationthe overall terminal site, including the four



earthworks, and the gallery itselfbut the more significant difference here is in the way these conditions of viewing overlap. Instead of using television cameras to convert, transfer, and display the earthworks as two-dimensional images on television monitors in the gallery, Smithson fits his sites into the space by adjusting their relative scales in terms of a shared cartographic grid. No other term of conversion is necessary. Each sitethe gallery, the air terminal, and the earthworksis realized as an expansion or compression in two or three dimensions of the same gridded framework, one nestled inside the other. Smithson had already conceived of three-dimensional exhibition spaces in terms of receding perspectival grids in his spiral notebook sketches (see figures 1.3 and 1.4), and he, Ad Reinhardt, and Robert Morris based the installation design of their 1966 exhibition 10 on the hypothetical, three-dimensional grid produced by the gallerys walls, ceiling, and floor.57 10 took place in the same spaceDwans New York gallerythat Smithson was intending to use for the Aerial Art exhibition. So his mapping of the gallery floor with a plan of the air terminal site might seem like an obvious next step, yet the ramifications are now quite different. In the earlier exhibitions, Smithson and others arranged individual works according to the specific architectural terms of the exhibition spaces or, in the case of his multiple-unit sculpture, to contradict these terms. In his design for the Aerial Art exhibition, both the air terminal and the gallery lose their specificity as independent spaces; they are specific only in relation to one another. Again, the gridded framework makes this comparison possible by providing a shared structure. To make such comparisons, this shared structure needed to be based on an abstract and much more all-encompassing system than the anthropomorphic terms of linear perspective or the terms of a particular architectural space. One needed what Smithson called a vast lattice that would be able to lock all air and land together.58 Smithson often spoke about how newer technologies such as the Secor surveying satellite use such a lattice to instantaneously link geographical areas that are more than 2,000 miles apart by bringing space to a standstill and replacing it with what he calls a crystalline structure of time.59 The satellite generates these links the same way the cartographer unifies selected sites into a network of gridded longitudinal and latitudinal lines. It just does so on a much larger scale and at much greater speed. In laying the air terminal map on the floor of Dwan Gallery, Smithson acknowledges that the gallery and the air terminal site are relative portions of this network of plotted or projected lines and thus can be made to mirror each other, reflections reflecting reflections, as in The Crystal Land. Under these shared conditions, their


formal qualities as spaces become more generic and thus easily convertible. The same is true of their quantitative limits, where they begin and end as portions of the lattice. And their contentsthe models and other details of the siteare commensurable to a certain degree as well. Yet despite all of the coincidences of form, limits, and contents that the lattice makes possible, the status of the two sites is not the same. One is absent and represented by a two-dimensional map. The other is present as a threedimensional space. These distinctions require the shared structure of the two sites to do much more than link them together as commensurable parts of a vast lattice. They require the conditions of signification. According to the cartographer David Greenhood, a map has as much right to be figurative as spoken or written language has; it too is language.60 As I have already indicated, Smithson discusses many things, including maps and glass plates, in terms of syntax to justify his claims that all material objects have the potential to function linguistically and, adversely, that language is a physical material like any other that artists can choose to work with.61 And both can traffic back and forth between literal and metaphorical signification.62 In Towards the Development of an Air Terminal Site, for example, he claims that Bells telephone and other investigations transformed language into linguistic objects, a visual language of modules whose points, lines, areas, or volumes establish the syntax of sites.63 Smithson learned about Bells activities from Konrad Wachsmanns 1961 book The Turning Point of Building: Structures and Design, which may have been an important sourcebook for him when he first began work for TAMS. Wachsmanns text contains a lengthy section on modulesthe fundamental unit of measure for modern architecturethat alternates short texts with diagrams. One of these diagrams (figure 3.19) illustrates the element module, a category that defines dimensional relationships among all objects with surface-defining characteristics. Wachsmann explains: Making the theoretical assumption that there is such a thing as a universal surface, that is, an element with so many physical properties that, abstractly expressed, it can serve any purpose, we can establish the following functional categories: opaque elements, transparent elements, surface-defining frame elements.64 The diagrammatic equivalents of these categories unfold through slight modificationsadded lines to signify transparency, doubled outlines to indicate framesto the same rectangular units appearance. The dimensions of each unit and thus their interchangeability remain the same. They are practically self-explanatory; they speak of their function within a larger architectural system, another vast lattice, which holds them together. They are both images and diagrams, things and language.



For Smithson, language, the new semantics of buildings, and sites all possess an identifiable and relatively constant structure with relevant featuresparagraphs, sentences, and words for language; windows, floors, and walls for buildings; and points, lines, areas, or volumes for sitesthat artists use to communicate.65 Critics and some artists often deny the new, shared syntactical structures of things to make them conform to preexisting criteriathus Smithsons embrace of Tony Smiths appreciation of the rules of structure of the unfinished turnpikeby isolating one outmoded feature or linguistic detail to stand for the whole (structure). Quickly, according to Smithson, these details become diseased, and their syntactical function fails or becomes much too specialized. Smithsons favorite example of such a diseased detail is painting. Painting, according to Smithson, is not an end, but a means, therefore it is linguistically an out-of-date category.66
FIGURE 3.19 Diagrammatic representation of elements describing surfaces, in Konrad Wachsmann, The Turning Point of Building: Structures and Design (1961).

In a number of essays written around 1966 and 1967, Smithson describes how painting has transformed a linguistic feature of buildingthe windowinto a homeless architectural detail by clotting up its gridded surfaces with paint. In one text, he uses the linguistic analogy of too much expression filling the syntax to describe paintings current situation.67 Both activitiesfilling the gridded surfaces of a window with paint or filling syntax with too much expressionand their resulting objects paintings and textspromote private over public values by hiding or denying the


shared signifying structure on which they both depend, just as the art museum, with its thick opacity, does (see figure 1.17): Bright colors conceal the abyss that holds the museum together. Everything solid is a bit of clogged air or space.68 In another essay, Smithson elaborates: Today, esthetic dogma endorses the concept of a painting as a unity or private object, and detaches it from pictorial language, when in fact a painting is nothing but the absence of a picture, therefore this seems to mean that the meaning of a painting contains a hidden duality that has yet to be discovered. The term painting has become a function of both language and technique, yet the artist when he blanks out a surface in order to gain wholeness, may very well imagine this wholeness to be a unity without any dividing factor or double meaning. But technique replaces the value of the picturable, when language is considered parasitic or literary. When the problem of picturable syntax is negated, this leaves a non-picture as is the case in the art of Baer and Reinhardt.69 These non-pictures offer the viewer silence, but this silence can be understood only in terms of a refusal to communicate. Syntax therefore is acknowledged through negation.70 Smithson explains that Reinhardt and Baer do this by maintaining the convention of the rectangular format or false window or mirror as blank surfaces that reflect nothing. They are willfully opaque. He also notes that both have in their art an infra-game structure that suggests maps without natural designations.71 So he calls them infra-maps, because, like his infra perspectives, they retain only the structural terms of the conditions to which they refer. And in using the grammar of windows, mirrors, and maps negatively, they present false reflected light and space that is artificial or non-space. In 1966, Smithson designed a number of works that consist of modular frameworks filled with a variety of black, white, or colored materialstar, blue coal, pulverized silica, and gravel (figures 3.20 and 3.21). These works all relate in format to his four earthworks in his Terminal Area Concepts drawing; all address Smithsons interest in negative picture-making, as opposed to painting and, as such, lack specific referents or natural designations, although as filled frameworks or foundations they do refer to the air terminals general rules of functioning by mirroring its architectural conditions: grids and modules.72 In 1967, Smithson also made several drawings for projects he called earth windows (figure 3.22)rectangular pits lined with powerful fog or outdoor stadium lights and covered with either a window grid and clear broken glass or square panes of glass arranged into a gridded pattern. He conceived



FIGURE 3.20 Robert Smithson, Tar Pool and Gravel Pit (model), 1966.

FIGURE 3.21 Robert Smithson, Three Side Views of Concrete or Wooden Foundations to be Plotted on Level Ground, 1966.


of some of these windows in graduated sequences of three and others as single constructions. All of them were intended for the air terminal. Formally, they can be linked to his earlier frame worksgridded formats filled with materialsbut now they are transparent. Electric light passes through the windows and upward toward the incoming airplanes, so that as images they appear as gridded light. Since their surfaces consist of glass, they would have also reflected the sky and anything else that happened to pass over them during the day. In other words, they were no longer opaque surfacesReinhardt and Baers dark or light mirrors that reflect nothing real or imaginary. They are windows and mirrors that are materially present but simultaneously transparent to the overall spatial and temporal syntax of surfaces and lines at the site. Unlike the illusionistic transparency of linear perspective, this was an abstract form of transparency that Smithson could advocate because it allows the Earth Windows to move beyond the status of private objects or even independent categories of objectswindows, walls, paintingsto communicate what Smithson called the primary data of the site.73 They functioned locally, like the transparent element module, within a syntax and were part of a larger, universal surface: The most common type

FIGURE 3.22 Robert Smithson, Three Earth Windows (under broken glass) AP 2, 1967.



of window in the modern city is composed of a simple grid system that holds panes of clear glass. The glass wall is a part of many standard stores and office buildings. By emphasizing the transparent glass we arrive at a total crystalline consciousness of structure, and avoid the clotted patchy naturalistic details of painting. The organic shapes that painters put on the canvas-pane are eliminated and replaced by a consciousness that develops a new set of linguistic meanings and visual results.74 Smithson discusses the theoretical conditions of this transparency in an essay concerning the Earth Windows entitled Untitled (Air Terminal-Windows) and in Towards the Development of an Air Terminal Site.75 In both essays, he links his use of the term transparency to Barthess discussion of a similar transparency in successful theater costume design: In short, the good costume must be material enough to signify and transparent enough not to turn its signs into parasites.76 This was Smithsons goal for all of the aerial art at the air terminal as well. He summarizes the material forms and signifying functions of these works in his final essay on the terminal project this way: On the boundaries of the taxiways, runways or approach clear zones we might construct earthworks or grid type frameworks close to the ground levels. These aerial sites would not only be visible from arriving and departing aircraft, but they would also define the terminals manmade perimeters in terms of landscaping.77 All of these added elements would expose the terminal as a coded environment, a picturable situation that could be read in a number of different ways and from a number of points of view.

By the time Smithson, Andre, Morris, Dwan, and Holt traveled to the Pine Barrens to look for a site for their outdoor exhibition of aerial art, Smithson was already considering another type of air terminal project. Four years later he described the confluence of events and images underlying this project, his first nonsite: The first non-site that I did was at the Pine Barrens in southern New Jersey. This place was in a state of equilibrium, it had a kind of tranquility and it was discontinuous from the surrounding area because of its stunted pine trees. There was a hexagon airfield there which lent itself very well to the application of certain crystalline structures which had preoccupied me in my earlier work. A crystal can be mapped out, and in fact I think it was crystallography which led me to map-making. Initially I went to the Pine Barrens to set up a system of outdoor pavements but in the process I became interested in


the abstract aspects of mapping. At the same time I was working with maps and aerial photography for an architectural company. I had great access to them. So I decided to use the Pine Barrens site as a piece of paper and draw a crystalline structure over the landmass rather than on a 20 x 30 sheet of paper. In this way I was applying my conceptual thinking directly to the disruption of the site over an area of several miles. So you might say that my non-site was a three dimensional map of the site.78 In choosing to map a site in New Jersey in his first nonsite, Smithson follows another one of the most basic conditions of map making: start with your own home terrain.79 According to Dwan, Smithson discovered the airfield on a Woodmansie quadrangle map after their first trip to the Pine Barrens: the mapping always followed the traveling.80 Because the landscape lacked significant landmarks and the abandoned airfield was located at some distance from the regions only major road and therefore not visible from this road, Smithson couldnt have discovered it otherwise. The small airfield has three runways that bisect each other to produce six spokes of roughly equivalent lengths. It appears near the quadrangle maps center as a white, star-shaped image with a hexagonal center; its shape and lack of color make it stand out against the uniform green color of most of the rest of the map. Smithson selected this site because it is already an airfield, a cartographic image, and a crystalline structure. He just framed what is already there. First, he made a black and white photostat of a Woodmansie quadrangle map, which eliminated the maps color. Then he rotated the map approximately forty-five degrees and used a ruler and black pen to connect the ends of the six spokes of the airfield together into a hexagonal shape, to extend each spoke approximately five inches, and, using these extended lines, to draw five more incrementally wider hexagonal shapes out to their edges. Finally, he cut the rest of the photostat image away to produce a hexagonally shaped map with the hexagonally shaped airfield at its center (see figure 3.4). The A Non-Site (an indoor earthwork) map is one of a group of two- and potentially three-dimensional works that Smithson made by cutting up various types of maps. Untitled (Antarctica) (see figure 3.7) is based on a polar coordinate map of the south pole. A polar coordinate map takes a pole as its center and its mapnet of parallels and meridians extend out from this center as a series of circular rings or curved lines. Smithson cut along the concentric circles created by this mapnets parallels and then pulled four rings of equal width apart from the central arctic circle of the pole. His action reveals the fundamental relationship between a flat map and the curved surface it represents and makes the transition between the two clear.81



Smithson had already associated a hexagonal shape with the air terminal in a 1966 work entitled Terminal (figure 3.23).82 This work consists of ten pairs of incrementally larger, hexagonal shapes that are vertically stacked on either side of a large central hexagonal shape. The works design is enantiomorphic, and the work was included in Smithsons first one-person exhibition at Dwan, along with Alogon and Plunge. In his second one-person exhibition, he rotated a similar hexagonal shape ninety degrees and used it as a platform for A Non-Site (an indoor earthwork) (figure 3.24). According to Smithson, the nonsite was a three dimensional map of the site.83 In this sense, he is referring to the sculptural aspects of the nonsite, which mirror the hexagonal design of the nonsite map as a reverse projection of it in three dimensions. Smithson folds out, thickens, or stacks up the maps framework into a three-dimensional form, just as he indicates the folding out of the terminal as a threedimensional form in his drawing Terminal: Plans for DallasFort Worth Regional Airport (see figure 3.12) or stacks up a contoured form out of glass plates in Glass Stratum (see figure 3.16). Because it is mounted on a low platform, the primary orientation when viewing this map is aerial, as if the spectator were in an airplane hovering over

FIGURE 3.23 Robert Smithson, Terminal, 1966.


the Pine Barrens, in preparation for landing. A Non-Site (an indoor earthwork) refers back to all of the visual conditions of the airportthe relationship between inside and outside, views from the air and on the ground, and two- and threedimensionalityas well as to the material processes used to construct the airport. It is also both a grid type framework and an earthworkcontainer and contained. The nonsites, then, are the point of convergence for all of Smithsons thinking about the air terminal. Later, in 1972 Smithson describes the range of this convergence:

Range of Convergence The range of convergence between Site and Nonsite consists of a course of hazards, a double path made up of signs, photographs, and maps that belong to both sides of the dialectic at once. Both sides are present and absent at the same time. The land or ground from the Site is placed in the art (Nonsite) rather than the art placed on the ground. The Nonsite is a container within another containerthe room. The plot or yard outside is yet another container. Two-dimensional and three-dimensional things trade places with

FIGURE 3.24 Robert Smithson, A Non-Site (an indoor earthwork), 1968.



each other in the range of convergence. Large scale becomes small. Small scale becomes large. A point on a map expands to the size of the land mass. A land mass contracts into a point. Is the Site a reflection of the Nonsite (mirror), or is it the other way around? The rules of this network of signs are discovered as you go along uncertain trails both mental and physical.84 One could say many of the same things about the air terminal. It too provides a range of convergence and a suspension between states. Smithson exploited both as early as 1966 in his four proposed earthworks. He intended for them to be built on a scale that would have been equivalent to the other major structures in the TAMS master plan. So from the air, they would have appeared as two-dimensional images, analogous to the equally two-dimensional geometric shapes of the terminal buildings. But because they were to be constructed low to the ground, they would temporarily disappear from view once one was on the ground, only to reappear again as a second set of twodimensional images on the television monitors inside the terminal. Smithson illustrates similar gaps or suspensions in visual convergence in A Web of White Gravel (figure 3.25). In this work, he adds a web of lines to a photostat of a blueprint of the airport master plan. This web functions as a visual pun on the idea of the airport as a spiders web that ensnares large flies, meaning planes, but Smithson also indicates on the drawing that this web consists of six-foot-wide white gravel paths to be seen from airplanes and walked on. So again, the web earthwork has a double function: it is a two-dimensional image to be viewed from the air and a three-dimensional thing to stand or walk on to view the airport when on the ground. This image/platform shuttles back and forth between these two functions, depending on ones position in relation to it.85 And like the four earthworks, it too would be invisible from certain vantage points. Smithson set up the viewing situation of all of these earthworks in the way that he did because he felt that such a situation reflected the terms of visual experience at an airport, constant visual and spatial convergences and shifts, often with blind spots in between. All of these visual convergences depend on memory to fill in these perceptual gaps or blind spots, a holding in the mind of the image of an object as it appeared from a previous position, either in the air or on the ground, while experiencing the same object from a new or different position. One remembers what the earthworks or the terminal looked like from the air when these two-dimensional images can no longer be seen once the plane has landed, and then one sees them again on the television monitors inside the terminal. These memories also allow

FIGURE 3.25 Robert Smithson, A Web of White Gravel, 1967.

the viewer to constantly compare past experience and present experience, twodimensional images and their three-dimensional counterparts, so that there is a mental but never a visual convergence of these things. The visual convergence is conditionalan either-or proposition that is completed by the mind. Here Smithson is still splitting vision to point out that it is a known fact that we do not see with our eyes but rather with our brain.86 All of the projects Smithson developed in relation to the air terminalvarious forms of landscaping, earthworks, and nonsiteswere loosely interchangeable; all dealt with convergence in one form or another. Monuments is another term that sometimes appears on Smithsons lists of landscape-related projects and is relevant here as well.87 The suspension between images that occurs at the airport and, by extension, at the nonsites could also be understood as small deaths. Being in an airport can feel like death or at least a temporary suspension of the terms of ordinary life. The past is there, the future in the form of a destination looms ahead, but the present is the dead, almost non-space of waiting to connect with this destination or future; one is all too often just passing time, standing still. As the narrator states at the beginning of Chris Markers La Jete, Nothing sorts out memories from ordinary moments. Later on they do claim remembrance when they show their scar.88 The earthworks and the nonsites, like monuments, act like scars or signs of a death. When looking at them, viewers can be at only one point in time and space. Thus all aspects of either the site and the nonsite or the earthwork as an image and the earthwork as a platform can never be fully present at once, although each aspect reminds viewers of its corollary and, as memories, can be perceived as ruins in reverse. Viewing entails absence or loss; one has to die a little. At the end of La Jete, the hero is allowed to return to the pastto the moment of his childhood memory and to the woman he loves as an adult: Once again on the main jetty at Orly, in the middle of this warm, prewar Sunday afternoon where he could now stay, he thought in a confused way that the child he had been was due to be there too, watching the planes. But first of all he looked for the womans face, at the end of the jetty. He ran toward her. And when he recognized the man who had trailed him since the underground camp, he understood there was no way to escape Time, and that this moment he had been granted to watch as a child, which had never ceased to obsess him, was the moment of his own death.89 The significance of La Jetes heros memory comes at a cost, his own death. He is allowed to experience the convergence of his past, present, and future because he is going to die.90 Smithson proposes an experience in his A Non-Site (an indoor earthwork) and in


most of the work he developed in relation to the air terminal, which is similar. All of them provide a view of a terminal but also a terminal view. Something always has to be sacrificed in the viewing processthe two-dimensional or the three-dimensional, the past or the future, the here or the there, and hopefully the museum itself.

Yucatan Is Elsewhere It never looked quite like thisbut very like a postcard to me. Being beaten to death by post-card landscapes. Wish you were here. messages on postcards sent to bob and nancy smithson Smithson and many of his contemporaries sent each other lots of postcards. Some were the ubiquitous exhibition announcements, which artists often designed for their solo or group shows. They also sent personal postcards when on vacation, when traveling in search of possible sites for constructing new work or, increasingly, when traveling by invitation to execute work for international exhibitions. Even though these postcards now appear to fall into two discrete categoriespublic and privateall were attempts to maintain a sense of community even as their senders sphere of artistic exchange was beginning to expand well beyond the boundaries of lower Manhattan. The images and messages on these postcards often establish a syntax for artistic exchange across space and time as well. Smithson and his contemporaries relied on the serial and temporal activity of sending and receiving cards to build visual and verbal sentences. Sometimes the sentence-building process was quite literal. For example, several individuals sent Smithson a sequence of postcards spaced out over the course of months. Each card contained an isolated phrase, word, or image that made little sense on its own. But when the cards are arranged according to the order in which they were received, the sequence produces a complete sentence or coherent message. Other artists developed a type of visual shorthand that relied on an accumulation of similar forms to signify. Eva Hesse sent Smithson a postcard of the Bell System Space Dome in Andover, Maine, in the summer of 1967. The dome, like the postcard, is a tool of communication; an antenna, housed inside the dome, communicates with satellites by amplifying their messages 500,000 times. But Hesse does not choose the image for this reason alone. The dome has a dramatic, concentric shape that Hesse associates with the concentric circular forms she frequently uses in



her own work. On the back of the postcard she makes a drawing of her circular design, and the likeness between the two images, front and back, snap together. The image she makes is so central to her artistic practice that she knows she doesnt need to sign her name on the postcard. She trusts that the Smithsons will immediately identify it with the sender. Place, image, artist, and ultimately artistic community come together, and, by extension, looking and travel become opportunities for sights and actions that acknowledge these repeated sights. My investigation of these postcard practices is necessarily one-sided since Smithsons archive contains the postcards that he and Holt received and few examples of what he sent to others. But as I have already indicated, there is plenty of evidence of a syntactical practice in Smithsons work, particularly in the chains of analogies he establishes in his travels through The Crystal Land, which is similar to the syntactical chains developed by his contemporaries through the sending of postcards. When traveling, Smithson constantly recorded sightings of forms and formal arrangements that were similar to those he used in his three-dimensional work. During his trip to Mexico, he rendered the stepped stonework capping pattern on the Temple of the Inscriptions on the inside back cover of his Palenque guidebook so that it resembled his asphalt pavements design for the air terminal and several other of his drawings of the Alogons.91 Other examples of the analogies he habitually drew while traveling include his comparison of Carl Andres 1966 and 1967 exhibitions of his Equivalents IVIII and Cuts, which were, respectively, positive or negative installation patterns of bricks or capstones on the floor of the Tibor de Nagy Gallery in New York and the Dwan Gallery in Los Angeles, with a similarly paired set of positive and negative Olmec jaguar masks made of colored bricks, in his essay Incidents of MirrorTravel in the Yucatan.92 In a 1970 interview with Paul Toner, Smithson describes the relationship between the two in terms that are similar to Kublers concept of the formclass: New art changes how we look at old art. You are not in a vacuum. You are not just a personality spewing out things from your gut. Art changes the view of the past. There is a lot of archaic art, there are giant earthworks in Peru, that havent been thought about. Indian mounds and all that kind of building leads to another kind of perception. Thats why I put the jaguar mask in the Yucatan article, to show that Carl Andres art can go all the way back.93 Most of Smithsons own practice after 1967 also was based on the repetition of a fixed set of actionscollecting rocks and other materials, plotting on maps, laying mirror trails or displacements, overturning rocks, upending trees, constructing hypothetical continents, making drawings, taking photographs or slides, and writ-


ingthat the artist adapted to the conditions of specific locations and that had a syntactical dimension.94 For example, in 1969, Smithson executed a number of earthmaps that were made out of different materials and based on the shapes of hypothetical continents that he found in various books. He made two earthmaps of Cathaysia out of rocks and quicksand in Alfred, New York, one of Lemuria out of shells on the beach at Sanibel Island, one of Gondwanaland out of limestone rocks he gathered near the Mayan ruins at Uxmal in the Yucatan, and one of Atlantis out of broken glass on Loveladies Island, New Jersey. As photographed imagesand that is the only way most individuals will ever perceive them since they were usually abandoned or destroyed after completionthese earthmaps all look practically interchangeable as forms and certainly not much different from any other pile of shells, rocks, or glass found on any beach, near any ancient ruin or quarry, or in any junkyard. By designating his piles as three-dimensional maps of hypothetical continents, Smithson makes possible a similar designation for any pile of stuff, thus creating a syntactical chain or form-class through repetition.95 In a collage entitled Earthmap of Gondwanaland Ice Cap (figure 3.26), Smithson spells out how this works cartographically. The collage contains two pairs of images. The pair in the lower register of the work consists of a section of a road map of the Yucatan and a section of a guidebook map of the Uxmal ruins district. The pair in the works upper register consists of a hypothetical map of the Gondwana Great Ice Cap taken from a textbook on stratigraphy and life history and a drawing by Smithson of his built earthmap of Gondwanaland.96 A straight line connects the equivalent sites on the maps in the pair in the lower register. In the upper register, Smithson has copied the map outline of the Gondwana ice cap in his sketch of the earthmap and has indicated that the edge of ice on the textbook map translates into an edge of limestone in his sketch. In drawing formal and geographical analogies between four types of maps, Smithson implies that one place or form can be equivalent to another, just as one map can be read in terms of another. Smithson also includes information on the relative scale of the four maps in his drawing, but he considers this scale in terms of time as well as space. After all, he is transposing an image of a continent from 305 to 270 million years ago onto a terrain that was once part of an ancient civilization and thus creating what he calls a collision in time that left one with a sense of the timeless at the site.97 This sense of timelessness occurs, in part, because Smithson makes no mention of the present. It appears to be superseded by his stacking of two images with different past tenses. Only the two maps cut from the road map and the guidebook contain information that might be based on present conditions of the site, but there is no way of verifying this



on the basis of these two fragments.98 They become generic spatial frameworks for the experience of timelessness. Returning to the postcards for a moment, when a sender seeks to establish a shared syntax between images, he or she often deliberately misrepresents both the actual site and time represented by a chosen postcards image. Mel Bochner attaches his own caption to a postcard image of a trail of footprints across a Cape Cod sand dune: This looks like the after shot from your ad on the Arts Yearbook. Anyway it will do until we get to the moon (figure 3.27).99 In doing so, Bochner makes a plausible comparison between his chosen postcard image and Smithsons advertisement, which the latter designed for the 1967 exhibition Dwan Gallery New York at Dwan Gallery Los Angeles and published in Arts Yearbook in 1967 (figure 3.28). Like Hesse, Bochner finds an image and brings it into circulation with other images already within his artistic community by pointing out resemblances. But he also addresses the issue of travels narrative sequence, the before and after, . . . and even after that, with his reference to the moon walk, still almost exactly two years in the future. After all, the passage of time is as much a part of the experience of travel as movement in space. Bochners attempt to picture the after while still occupying the before parallels the time travel of individuals writing for the mainstream press. For Lifes 28 February 1969 issue, Anne Morrow Lindbergh contributed a cover story entitled The Moon Voyagers and the Earthly Beauty that Beckons them Back (figure 3.29). Her essay, a call for environmental responsibility at home, includes photographs taken of the natural habitats surrounding Cape Canaveral, Florida. All these images are paired with images or descriptions of things associated with the upcoming Apollo 11 mission. One pair juxtaposes a set of animal tracks with a satellite photograph of the moons surface. The accompanying caption reads: Lunar-looking scene above is the track of a racoon in the sand near the Apollo 9 launching site. Lindberghs aims are a bit different from Bochners since she seems more convinced that her substitute futures are sufficiently beautiful and should not be forgotten in the thrill of the potentially beautifulyet to be perceived and recorded by NASAs technology. Bochner is not interested in relative beauty or truth but in sequence and in how an images caption directs a reading in terms of sequence, regardless of inherent truth or verifiability. The 8 August 1969 cover of Life and the cover of Artforum for September of the same year (figures 3.30 and 3.31) present another set of sequential images. The Life cover contains one of the first color photographs of the 1969 moon landing ever published. It and the other images in the magazines featured photo-essay were taken by
FIGURE 3.26 (opposite page) Robert Smithson, Earthmap of Gondwanaland Ice Cap, 1969.



the astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin. The image on the cover of Artforum magazine was taken by Robert Smithson. It is a photograph of his First Mirror Displacement, one of nine illustrated in his essay Incidents of Mirror-Travel in the Yucatan, which also appears in this issue of Artforum. The similarities between the two covers are striking, regardless of whether they were intentional on the part of Smithson or the editor of Artforum.100 The two images depict a powdery grey ground, devoid of human figures and yet marked by traces of their former presencefootprints and a flag or mirrors. These things cast strong shadows on the ground. Both photographs were taken at angles that tip the space up toward the viewer and eliminate the horizon line. A consideration of their formal similarities calls into question
FIGURE 3.27 (top left) Postcard sent by Mel Bochner to Robert Smithson, 13 July 1967. FIGURE 3.28 (top right) Robert Smithson, advertisement for Dwan Gallery, Arts Yearbook (1967).

the rhetoric of these images and of the paired images previously discussed. If one discards their captions and the titles of their respective places of publication, do these images maintain their veracity as records of specific places and their proper places in the before and after sequence? To address this question, one needs to determine how these images manifest a tense that has yet to be represented in these comparisonsthe present. Postcards themselves challenge the usual sequence of traveling and returning to tell by blurring the distinctions between the two. One tells while traveling; the postcard often arrives after one has returned home or one sends an image that


has nothing to do with where one is. Yet postcards do possess one indisputable index of the moment of sending, both in terms of time and placethe postmark. This mark or stamp connects the sender to a precise place and time and to an indisputable present tense that then is immediately and necessarily detached from all three. This fragile mark was to become increasingly important to Smithson. He was preoccupied with time travel; his trip to Passaic was, in large part, an experiment in self-conscious time travel. He also believed that such travel was particularly important for artists since for too long the artist has been estranged from his own time because critics tended to focus on the art object rather than the artists process. Toward the end of 1968, Smithson wrote: The mental process of the artist which takes place in time is disowned, so that a commodity value can be maintained by a system independent of the artist. Art, in this sense, is considered timeless or a product of no time at all; this becomes a convenient way

FIGURE 3.29 Illustrations for The Moon Voyagers and the Earthly Beauty that Beckons them Back, Life (28 February 1969). FIGURE 3.30 (following pages, left) (see PLATE 4) Cover of Life (8 August 1969). FIGURE 3.31 (following pages, right) (see PLATE 5) Cover of Artforum (September 1969).



to exploit the artist out of his rightful claim to his temporal processes. . . . Artists with a weak view of time are easily deceived by this victimizing kind of criticism, and are seduced into some trivial history. . . . The deeper an artist sinks into the time stream the more it becomes oblivion; because of this, he must remain close to the temporal surfaces. . . . Floating in this temporal river are the remnants of art history, yet the present cannot support the cultures of Europe, or even the archaic or primitive civilizations; it must instead explore the pre- and post-historic mind; it must go into the places where remote futures meet remote pasts.101 Smithson made his first mirror displacements in the spring of 1969 while he was traveling in Mexico. By repeating some of the activities of a nineteenth-century predecessor to Mexico, the explorer and travel writer John Lloyd Stephens; by repeating many of his own previous artistic practices; and by consciously anticipating some of the actions soon to be performed by the first explorers of the moon, Smithson attempted to provide his own artistic postcards of an indisputable present tense in between the before and after of Mexicos Yucatan peninsula.

Smithsons trip to Mexico began with postcards. Other artists he knew had already been there, and evidence of their travels remains in Smithsons correspondence files. Virginia Dwan traveled to Mexico in February 1968, blazing a trail to Yucatan partly, she states in a postcard, to gather some ideas for our trip.102 On 15 April 1969, Smithson, Nancy Holt, and Dwan left New York for Florida. After a few days at Sanibel Island and then Captiva Island spent with Robert Rauschenberg, they flew out of Tampa to Merida, Mexico, where they picked up a rental car for their drive through the Yucatan peninsula. Over a period of two weeks, they drove down highway 261 through the state of Yucatan, past the Mayan ruins at Uxmal, then into Campeche, along the Gulf coast through the towns of Campeche and Champotn, and back into the peninsulas interior toward Palenque in the state of Chiapas. They left their car in Palenque for a trip by airplane and boat to the Mayan ruins at Bonampak and Yaxchiln in the Lacandn rain forest. After returning to Palenque, they drove northwest to the city of Villahermosa and then to the coast of Tabasco and Campeche, crossing the Laguna de Trminos on a series of ferries that connected the Isla del Carmen with the mainland on either side. They returned to Merida via the coast of Campeche on highway 180 and arrived back in New York on 2 May. The trip lasted about two and a half weeks.


On at least nine different occasions during their travels they stopped the car or boat at towns or at the sites of Mayan ruins that Smithson marked on a road map. At each stop, they got out of the car or boat or off the dirt path, and Smithson placed the same mirrors in the soil or vegetation and took color slides of them. At some sites they stayed longer, and Smithson executed other projects. He overturned rocks, constructed the Gondwanaland earthmap, and planted a tree upside down, and he photographed these projects as well. These activities were repetitions of practices Smithson had developed earlier. For example, he used mirrors in a similar manner in his trail of eight mirrors placed at evenly spaced points that he designated on a U.S. Geological Survey map of the area around Ithaca, New York. This mirror trail was one of several projects involving mirrors that he executed there in February 1969 for the Earth Art exhibition at Cornell University. He first arranged and photographed the mirrors he brought with him to Mexico on the beach at Sanibel Island for a work he called Mirror Shore. After his visit to the Yucatan, Smithson arranged mirrors in England, New Jersey, and a few other places, calling them all mirror displacements. As already stated, the earthmap of Gondwanaland, made of limestone rocks Smithson gathered near the ruins at Uxmal, is also one of several earthmaps the artist made of hypothetical or mythical continents during 1969. So why leave home at all? In the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, Smithson doesnt make anything that will last or that he hasnt done before or wont continue to do elsewhere later on. The things that he creates almost immediately take the form of memories since they are either abandoned or quickly destroyed. Nothing remains of these works but two dozen or so images entombedSmithsons termin his Instamatic camera. Shuffled among snapshots of other places, they would retain few visual attributes that readily signify Mexico to an outsider. Similarly, when Smithson uses the names of cities and the sites of Mayan ruins in his illustrated narrative of this trip, Incidents of Mirror-Travel in the Yucatan, it is never to describe their specific qualities but only to indicate his present location on a map. This makes it easy to retrace Smithsons itinerary but does little to illustrate the particular relevance to Smithson of the places where he got out of the car. The reader must gather associations from other contemporary sources, unraveling relevant coincidences of Mayan myth and the geological and cultural history of Mexico.103 Smithson read history in many directions and on many levels in preparation for his trip to Mexico; he seems to have discriminated between texts on the basis of subject matter and not on the basis of scientific validity. Otherwise, he could not have placed two volumes on the history of Latin AmericaJames Churchwards The



Lost Continent of Mu and Peter Nehemkiss Latin America: Myth and Realityon the same shelf in his library. Smithsons paperback copy of Churchwards book is heavily creased and marked; the spine on the Nehemkis volume is not even broken. Perhaps he preferred myth as history to history revealed as myth. His text and images for his essay Incidents of Mirror-Travel in the Yucatan eschew local culture and history when both were always readily at hand. In fact, the proximity of contradictory cultural artifacts to the very sites where Smithson laid down his mirrors emphasizes the artists deliberate avoidance of these artifacts in his work. Smithsons camera mostly stares downward at bits of colorful landscapes or hesitantly gazes across them when no one else or any significant landmark is around.104 Other materials in the archive and slides and photographs remaining in Holts photo albums of their trip reveal Smithsons personal interest in contemporary Mexico, including its industry, architecture, and public art, and thus disclose his deliberate excision of these interests from his published account of the trip. When discussing his Fourth Mirror Displacement, which he installed on a beach near Seybaplaya, Smithson relates to the reader what Chalchihiuticue, the Surd of the Sea, said to him at the site: The true fiction eradicates the false reality.105 A clue to what Smithson is after lies in the way he places the mirrors and what they reflect. Smithsons narrative is constantly being interrupted by the voices of various Mayan and Aztec gods. These voices are his primary guides throughout the Incidents essay, and, according to Dwan, Smithson even gave her, Holt, and himself a particular god to personify on the trip so that they would experience everything in terms of these gods.106 This way, they could live a true fiction amid a false reality. Smithson had several models to choose from when developing this fictional mode of experiencing Mexico. In one model, which was represented by a number of texts in his library, the authors read history in terms of myth; in other words, they assumed that certain myths, particularly those dealing with lost continents, were true fictions, remnants of the history of a lost primary civilization.107 James Churchwards The Lost Continent of Mu, a book with a considerable cult following in the 1960s, dispenses with all scholarly apparatus or local evidence to portray every ancient civilization, including the Maya of the Yucatan, as colonies of a master civilization that perished with the explosion of its motherland, the Pacific continent of Mu.108 This task requires immense leaps of logic, but the author is up to them. With footnoted references to various records, photographs derived exclusively from the popular press, and all other documentary images rendered by the author himself, Churchward makes assertions that are simultaneously as outrageous


as they are irrefutable because of the general level on which they are made. Basically he invents a historical past with a few scraps of myth and then shows the reader what this past looked like. When The Lost Continent of Mu is paired with Ignatius Donnellys classic 1882 work Atlantis: The Antediluvian World, patterns in the thought processes behind the myth-as-history model emerge.109 Both Donnelly and Churchward search for repetitions of or resemblances between motifs and narratives from diverse civilizations that inevitably depend on broad plot generalizations provided by the authors or on simplifications of the appearances of compared artifacts. These ersatz resemblances then appear to match the authors a priori expectations that they derive from shared, original meanings or underlying historical events. The continuous reappearance of these motifs and narratives at numerous times and geographical places proves that the ur-object or originating event that they represent actually existed or happened at one place long ago. These shared repetitions also reveal a collective historical memory of the original object or event, but one that has degenerated over time since each appearance is an ever fainter copy of its source. Such a biological model of history as a process of birth, growth, and decay renders the present as nothing more than a seriously compromised version of what Donnelly and Churchward believed was a great past.110 Neither Churchward nor Donnelly is discerning when establishing the terms of their resemblances between things. They often pair up objects that share only the most superficial formal similarities, such as triangular shapes or names that begin with the same letter (figure 3.32). Form has little independent signifying force in their remakes of history. It is a vessel, the contents of whicha shared historical origin shapes the form into the likeness of other vessels that contain the same stuff. The result is a history of the replica-mass of one prime. Context gets little respect from these authors, either. The local almost always indicates the global, just as the present exists only as a faint echo of the past. And if their evidence is not credible enough, phrases such as so identical or striking resemblance persuade readers to attribute their resistance to the authors comparisons to the poor quality of the reproductions in their texts. Smithson later claimed that his work in Mexico was a reflection of these earlier investigations, an anti-expedition.111 When traveling in Mexico, Smithson repeated a set of formal practices and ignored the specific circumstances of the culture that surrounded him. But he did allow the voices of the local ancient Mayan gods to direct him in his practice. He wanted to live in that past and hear its unique voice



FIGURE 3.32 Comparative architectural forms, in Ignatius Donnelly, Atlantis: The Antediluvian World (1882).

and mind. As he had stated a year earlier: [The present] must instead explore the preand post-historic mind; it must go into the places where remote futures meet remote pasts.112 In this effort, Smithson echoes John Lloyd Stephenss aims in traveling to the Yucatan in the mid-nineteenth century.113 Stephenss goal differed from Donnellys or Churchwards because he believed that the Mayan ruins then buried in the jungles of the Yucatan peninsula were evidence of a unique culture. When Stephens reproduced the same image of a Mayan arch included in Donnellys text (see figure 3.32), he used it to argue that the arch was not derived from the Greco-Roman tradition but was a completely different architectural form in terms of its engineering and symbolic function. Smithson based the title of his Incidents of Mirror-Travel in the Yucatan essay on the title of Stephenss 1843, two-volume account of his own travels, Incidents of Travel in Yucatan, and loosely followed Stephenss travel routes through the Yucatan peninsula. The main influence that Stephenss text had on Smithson, however, was Stephenss use of the term incidents. Stephens wrote a series of travel books, and he was a well-known travel writer during his lifetime. Although he traveled to and wrote about many parts of the worldAsia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Central Americathe titles of all of his books begin with the same phrase: Incidents of Travel in. . . . In his volumes on the Yucatan, Stephens uses the term incidents to


refer to encounters with the locals, usually difficult ones that momentarily disrupt the flow of his narrative. These incidents are momentary experiences of the present amid lengthy speculations about the past or about culture in general. So the term incidents does double duty for Stephens: it links all his travel narratives together as part of a set, regardless of their specific subjects, and it signals disruptions within these travel narratives.114 Smithson devises a similar double function for his nine mirror displacements in Incidents of Mirror-Travel in the Yucatan. They are members of a larger set, the mirror displacement work, and each example contains elements that belie a simple characterization of them as more of the same. Smithson makes the tension between these two aspects of the work palpable through the way he arranges the mirrors, takes slides of them, and reproduces the resulting images in Artforum. These three actions are related but distinct aspects of the work that need to be analyzed separately. Also, Smithsons stated actions and his images of the results of these actions are not equivalent. For example, some of the color slides of the Yucatan displacements contradict his claim that he used the same twelve mirrors at each of the nine sites since, in several of them, more or fewer than this number are visible. In the previous chapter, I focused on Smithsons activities in Passaic in relation to his written account of these activities. Here, as a sort of corrective, I focus on his published images and how he came to terms with the context of the magazine by viewing it as a sort of nonsite. In creating each of the Yucatan mirror displacements, Smithson arranged nine to thirteen square mirrors in patterns that are consistent with a gridded framework. The edges of the mirrors were roughly parallel to one another, even when wedged into the uneven ashes, sand, or dirt surfaces on the ground or when woven into branches, vines, or undergrowth. The uniform square shape and size of the mirrors also helped to limit the variety of his arrangements. For the published article, Smithson laid out his images of the nine mirror displacements on a single page in rows of three each (figure 3.33). This arrangement also creates a grid to which the uniform square shape of the original slides easily conforms, and in turn, this square grid conforms to the square shape of Artforum. The entire project from the selection of the square mirrors to the choice to publish the article in a square magazine comes together as a process of stacking one set of squares arranged into a grid on top of another, the square being the basic unit or module. When describing the Yucatan mirror displacements, Smithson stated: There is an attempt to regulate the irrational aspects. So my work is always uncertain,



but at the same time the uncertainty is arrested where the system breaks down, or where the incapacity comes in. To locate that is even more interesting than a willful, logical position; anybody can do that.115 Through his consistent use of the square gridded framework, he is able to locate several points where the rational ordering of this framework breaks down. On the magazine page, the uniform white lines created by the intervals between the individual images render the analogous intervals between the mirrors in the images more visible but also more irregular in contrast. The tilt and recession of the individual mirrors reveal the specific conditions of the ground and the chosen angle of the camera at each site, and thus the grid they form is not a flat and crisp one. As Smithson later described the work: Im more interested in the terrain dictating the condition of the art. . . . The actual contour of the ground determined the placement of the twelve mirrors.116 The terrain of the magazine dictated the placement of Smithsons images on the page so that two terrains are mapped to be superimposed on top of one another by a shared grid, whether designated as a set of contour lines in one place or by the gridded register of a paste-up board in another. Yet like the relationship Smithson establishes between his Alogons or his infra perspectives and their exhibition spaces, the two terrainsimage and magazine context dont quite fit together because they are maps of very different types and scales and, even more obviously, as Smithson points out in an essay on the uneasy relationship between photographs and text on the pages of art magazines: Maps within maps are seen where no maps are supposed to be.117 The same could be said of the mirrors, in a sense, because they were not where they were supposed to be and they disrupted the visual fieldcreated holes in the groundboth at the site and on the printed page. The viewing situation was similar to the one created by Smithsons earlier, enantiomorphic mirror pieces (see figure 1.27). At each site, Smithson situated the mirrors so that they would reflect the sky or the actual light source for the site.118 Because of this arrangement, two different planes of the space of the site became visible simultaneously. It is as if Smithson has created a fold, crease, or weave in the space to displace the sky onto the ground: Oh, for the happy days of pure walls and pure floors. Flatness was nowhere to be found.

FIGURE 3.33 (opposite page) (see PLATE 6) Robert Smithson, Nine Mirror Displacements, in Artforum (September 1969).

Later, Smithson also claimed that by situating mirrors in this way, he was dealing with actual light as opposed to paint. Paint to me is matter, and a covering, rather than light itself.120 His statement situates the mirror displacements in line with the Earth Windows as nonmalignant surfaces and lines, transparent to the specific conditions of the site, which are unstable and chaotic. Although they are abstract, the mirrored squares absorb[ing], reflect[ing] the site in a very physical way.121 This



abstract transparency demands not only to be seen or seen through but to be read in Barthess sense of the term, as a sign communica[ting] ideas, information or sentiments about the site, also in a very physical way.122 When discussing what Smithson did with the mirror displacements in Mexico, one depends, as with The Monuments of Passaic, on what the artist says took place. The color slides, especially as published in Artforum, provide a different level of experience of the work, once they are no longer seen as documents reflecting what actually took place in Mexico. A viewer looking at any one of the images of the mirror displacements does not see, and does not expect to see, actual reflections. The mirrors in the slides reflect or capture images of the sky or fragments of the landscape that were behind or slightly to the left or right of the photographer as well as images of the ground supporting the mirrors (figure 3.34). In this way, the images in the mirrors and the images that contain these mirror images present the terms of a threedimensional space, or at least the back and front or up and down of one, which, although analogous to the space the viewer is occupying, is significantly different because in the slides, these terms are transposed, one on top of another, so that sky and ground or tree and facing bushes exist on the same plane. Smithson has created his own version of the alternating perspective figure here by combining two contradictory images. Instead of overlapping two different images of three-dimensional forms, however, he fits together two different views of three-dimensional space, the ground and sky, and two types of physical and cultural space, Mexico and Artforum. The fact that the images lack figures is beside the point since the three-dimensional terms of the spaces Smithson constructs are collapsed and therefore physically uninhabitable.123 Their collapse cannot be reconciled visually, either, since it does not produce coherent stereoscopic views or even optical mirages. Anthropomorphic spacial concerns are denied, and the cultural specificity of the site is acknowledged, if only as an absence. After describing his perceptions of the contrast between the relatively stable shadows cast by the mirrors and the momentary reflections of butterflies flying over the mirrored surfaces of his third mirror displacement, Smithson concludes: A scale in terms of time rather than space took place.124 This scale depends on a ratio of contrasting continuous durations. The camera collapses the terms of this contrast by arresting all duration, whether slow or rapid, into a single instant. This act renders the process discontinuousat least, Smithson says, in terms of the record of the process.125 It becomes specific, not just in terms of being a record but in terms of the way it presents time. The flickering forms on the surfaces of the mirrors are brought to a standstill in a way that they could never be experienced at the site; they indicate

FIGURE 3.34 (see PLATE 7) Robert Smithson, Seventh Mirror Displacement, 1969.

blind spots or holes in the emulsion, conditions of photography that have no analogy in human perception. As marks on the mirrors, they now refer to the site the way a postmark on a postcard refers to its point of originundeniable but often in contradiction to the postcards message or its image. As I stated above, this mark or stamp also connects the sender to a precise place and time and to an indisputable present tense, which then is immediately and necessarily detached from all three, displaced.126 Similarly, the image of the flickering forms disrupts the flow of the sequential or durational travel narrative by insisting on a present that was never experienced as such by anyone but the camera. By the time someone, either Smithson or the reader of Artforum magazine, sees these marks, they already exist in a past that is passed off as present. They are markers of an absent present and an absent place. In the words of Smithsons contemporary, the novelist Alain Robbe-Grillet: For of course an elsewhere is no more possible than a formerly.127 In a 1970 interview, Smithson stated: For the mirror pieces, there is no audience, yet if the work is strong enough, and photographed properly, it is fed back into a mass distribution situation.128 The same could be said of the 1969 lunar landing. There was no audience at the site, and yet the event was fed back to billions of people all over the world via live satellite images and later through photographs published in magazines. As already noted, these two eventsSmithsons trip to Mexico and the lunar landingoccurred practically on top of one another, and the time frame for the distribution of their respective photographic images was even tighter, only a matter of weeks. Smithson could not have avoided making comparisons, at least in his mind, and if he didnt, others were there to make them for him. For example, in a letter dated 17 April 1969, Philip Leider, then editor of Artforum, called Smithsons attention to the first installment of a two-part article in The New Yorker on preparations for the moon landing.129 Leider notes how the phrases used by the articles author and NASAs terminology are of the kind that characteristically appears quoted at the head of various parts of your essays, but the articles descriptions of the types of activities planned are equally striking. The astronauts were to collect rocks from the moons surface in what were called sample-return containers, plot the collection locations on maps, and document them with photographs. To prepare for executing these relatively simple tasks in conditions of reduced gravity, they repeated them over and over inside NASAs artificially recreated moon environments. The New Yorker author states that such controlled repetition was necessary because advancing science must take a second place to testing the performance of the astronauts. . . . Finding out that we are


able to fill the contingency-sample scoop is just as important as bringing back the contingency sample itself. Once we know that, we can go on to more complex jobs.130 The fact that the astronauts activities resembled Smithsons activities at his chosen sites led the artist to call the results of the entire Apollo mission a very expensive nonsite.131 But the proper methods of feeding these activities back into a mass distribution situation differed a great deal. The Apollo 11 mission was tightly choreographed to eliminate or at least contain the unexpected. The layouts of the earliest images of the landing and first moon walk frequently reflect this rationalized choreography by providing a clear narrative sequence of the major eventsthe descent of the lunar module, its landing on the surface of the moon, the descent of Neil Armstrong from the module, and his first step on the moon. Each significant moment in this narrative is represented by a single image, and these images are arranged in sequential order, from right to left or top to bottom. In some instances, such as in the 8 August issue of Life (figure 3.35), the designer has edited Buzz Aldrins 16 millimeter film footage so that only four crucial stages of the descent remain, but the stills retain their status as individual frames of film footage because a continuous heavy black border has been inserted at the top and bottom of the images and thin white strips have been placed in between them to suggest a strip of film. Although many minutes of action have been edited out, the effect

FIGURE 3.35 Illustrations from Men on the Moon, Life (8 August 1969).



is one of continuous action. Smithson, on the other hand, uses a gridded framework to bring his narrative to a standstill. A similar comparison can be made between the indexical qualities of the two sets of images. In many of the lunar photographs, Aldrin and Armstrong use shadows to verify their positions in space and to enhance the narrative. The images in the top register of the page from Life record the descent of the lunar module to the lunar surface. The edge of the modules window and a shadow it casts on the moon establish continuity for each shot so that the image of the increasingly closer surface is framed by them until in the final image a landing probe reached down to touch its own shadow on the moon.132 Even the dust kicked up by the module as it landed signifies this immediacy analogically as a grainy blur on the surface of the image. Instead of suggesting motion or indicating location, Smithsons analogs of reflectionthe flickering marks on the images of the surfaces of his mirrorssuggest dislocation, asymmetry, absence, and a present that has already past. Because of these disparities and the chronological order in which the pictures were taken, Smithsons image on the cover of Artforum can be viewed as a past tense of the cover of Life. Basically, NASA invented a future and then showed viewers what it looked like, just as Smithson invented a past and then showed the readers of Artforum what it looked like. One comes off as reality emerging out of science fiction, and the other as fiction emerging out of reality. In his 1968 essay A Museum of Language in the Vicinity of Art, Smithson wrote: What the artist seeks is coherence and ordernot truth, correct statements, or proofs. He seeks the fiction that reality will sooner or later imitate.133 My comparison of the two covers seems to prove him to be correct. Smithson based this conception of the artists practice on what others have described as the definable specificity of science fictiona literature which explores the range of the possible, as science permits us to envision it.134 Smithson liked this model because it blurs the distinction between fiction and reality by allowing fantasy to be projected into a potential future that could be realized or that already has been realized in as yet unappreciated ways. He and Mel Bochner delighted in how the images in the 1951 Hayden Planetarium show End of the World illustrate a future in which the problem of the human figure vanishes, anthropomorphic concerns are extinct, and nature is simulated and turned into handpainted photographs of the extreme past or future. . . . History no longer exists.135 The Monuments of Passaic also contains a number of examples of this type of plausible time travel. Mayan hieroglyph writing, as understood by Eric Thompson, provided an analogous model for


Smithsons time travels in Mexico. Thompson characterized the Mayan relationship to the passage of time as one of poetic absorption in its rhythmic forward and backward flow: Like a miser counting his hoard, the Maya priest summed the days that had gone and the days that were to come, stacking them in piles, juggling combinations to learn when the re-entering cycles of time would again pass abreast the turnstiles of the present.136 Thompson believed that the individual glyphs of Mayan hieroglyphic writing manifested this flow in their arrangement and individual form. Each one was an integer in a cycle and a marker of an actual historical event, and their physical appearance and fairly uniform shapeswhich were often carved on individual rectangular stones and used to build architectural elements such as staircases or organized into gridded horizontal registers on these elementsonly enhanced Thompsons image and its formal relationship to Smithsons mirror arrangements. Thompsons description of Mayan glyphs also mirrors Smithsons understanding of monuments as markers that plot out and charge a spatial field with memory but that are at once physically still and yet filled with opportunity for the internal awareness of time.137 To extend the analogy, both monuments and glyphs are cool in a McLuhanian sense of the term. This analogy can be extended further to include the types of societies that produced these two cool systems for representing the experience of time by switching discursive tracks from art history, archaeology, and media studies to structural anthropology and Claude Lvi-Strausss distinctions between cold and hot societiesthe former seeking, by the institutions they give themselves, to annul the possible effects of historical factors on their equilibrium and continuity in a quasi-automatic fashion; the latter resolutely internalizing the historical process and making it the moving power of their development.138 Lvi-Strauss proposes these distinctions as replacements for what he considers to be the usual, clumsy distinction between peoples without history and others, in part because the latter expresses a false distinction and a singular understanding of historical process in terms of change. According to Lvi-Strauss, cold societies do not deny the historical process; they admit it as a form without content: There is indeed a before and an after, but their sole significance lies in reflecting each other.139 Our ancestors taught it to us, and therefore we repeat it. Such a history, states Lvi-Strauss, presents the paradox of being both disjoined from and conjoined with the present.140 Ritual expresses these disjoined and conjoined conditions through an elaborate synchro-diachronic system of procedures that weave the past and present together as a sequence of repetitions and reversals.



Lvi-Strauss cites the example of the three-tiered rites of the Australian tribes of the Cape York Peninsula. The first category, the rites of control, regulate species or totemic phenomena at the centers established by the ancestors at various points in the tribal territory. According to Lvi-Strauss: The commemorative or historical rites recreate the sacred and beneficial atmosphere of mythical timesthe dream age, as the Australians call itmirroring its protagonists and their great deeds. The mourning rites correspond to an inverse procedure: instead of charging living men with the personification of remote ancestors, these rites assure the conversion of men who are no longer living men into ancestors. It can thus be seen that the function of the system of ritual is to overcome and integrate three oppositions: that of diachrony and synchrony; that of the periodic or non-periodic features which either may exhibit; and, finally, within diachrony, that of reversible and irreversible time. For although present and past are theoretically distinct, the historical rites bring the past into the present and the rites of mourning the present into the past, and the two processes are not equivalent: mythical heroes can truly be said to return, for their only reality lies in their personification; but human beings die for good.141 Sometimes ritual objects complete this system by providing physical confirmation of, as Lvi-Strauss states, the diachronic essence of diachrony at the very heart of synchrony, and Lvi-Strauss provides the churinga, ritual objects from central Australia, as a particularly potent example. The churinga are objects of stone or wood (figure 3.36) that represent the physical body of a specific ancestor and are passed on, generation after generation, to the living individuals thought to be the reincarnation of this specific ancestor. They are, therefore, the past materially present and they provide the means of reconciling empirical individuation and mythical confusion.142 Smithson acknowledges Lvi-Strausss description of the synchrodiachronic history practiced by cold societies by opening his Incidents of MirrorTravel in the Yucatan with this quotation from The Savage Mind: The characteristic feature of the savage mind is its timelessness; its object is to grasp the world as both a synchronic and a diachronic totality and the knowledge which draws from it like that afforded of a room by mirrors fixed on opposite walls, which reflect each other (as well as objects in the intervening space) although without being strictly parallel.143 Smithsons mirror displacements are reinactments of the savage minds room of mirrors. As photographic images, they fold synchronic and diachronic registers of experience together into an absent present tense that is similar to a cold societys acknowledg-


FIGURE 3.36 Illustration of Churinga of an Aranda man of the Frog totem, in Claude Lvi-Strauss, The Savage Mind (1966).

ment of history as a form without content. As objects, the mirror displacement images are also analogous to the churinga; they are literally the past materially present. These analogies, defined in terms of time collapse, are a long way from Smithsons initial adaptations of the stereoscopes collapse of space. But he had to defeat the latter and the dominant perceptual paradigm it represented to arrive at the former and a paradigm articulated in terms of structural analysis.

Near the end of Jean-Luc Godards 1963 film Les Carabiniers, two soldiers return home from a fictitious postcolonial warbased in part on World War II, the Algerian War, and the war in Vietnamwith a suitcase full of the deeds to their booty. These deeds take the form of postcards of monuments and technological achievements of civilizations from all over the world; several of them depict Kublerian primes. The soldiers take countless stacks of these cards from their suitcases and identify them to map out their travels and reconstitute their conquests for the women they returned to, but in the end the soldiers have mistaken the replica-mass for primes. When the sol-



diers go to claim their booty, they discover that their side has lost, and they are shot by the very men who had enlisted them. They have been sold a bill of goods. They die mistaking apparent conditions for actual ones. Their value was contingent on their current position within a larger political system. As individualslike the postcards they are interchangeable and disposable. In The Shape of Time, Kubler makes a correlation between the historian and the astronomer: both are concerned with appearances noted in the present but occurring in the past.144 Accordingly, Kubler claims, works of art are like stars: However fragmentary its condition, any work of art is actually a portion of arrested happening, or an emanation of past time. It is a graph of an activity now stilled, but a graph made visible like an astronomical body, by a light that originated with the activity.145 Time alters these signals, and correspondingly, the present interpretation of any past event is of course only another stage in the perpetuation of the original impulse.146 In a roughly contemporary essay, Barthes claims that criticism is neither a tribute to the truth of the past nor to the truth of the other; it is the ordering of that which is intelligible in our own times.147 Barthes ties this temporal relativity to structuralist criticism in particular and to the relative transparence of literary texts their potential to be endlessly available to any critical language at any time.148 Racines plays were such texts for Barthes: It is ultimately his very transparence that makes Racine a veritable commonplace of our literature, the critical object at zero degree, a site empty but eternally open to signification.149 Godards film and Kublers text depart from the assumption that individuals and objects are complete and self-sufficient entities. One of them depicts such assumptions as absurd, if not fatal; the other proffers an alternative approach in which historians employ objects to transpose, reduce, compose, and color a facsimile which describes the shape of time.150 The art object becomes part of a larger system and is read in terms of it. As already noted, Smithson blamed critical focus on the art object for the artists estrangement from his own time. Such a focus also obscured the work of arts time since every object, if it is art, is charged with the rush of time even though it is static, but all of this depends on the viewer.151 Barthess characterization of Racines work as the critical object at zero degree, a site empty but eternally open to signification, suggested a possible alternative approach. In a short text, written around 1968, Smithson uses Barthess criteria to delineate the types of sites in which he has attempted to locate structural meanings.152 Each of his readings is, according to Smithson, apparent rather than actual, or you might say reconstructed appearances. 153 His chosen sitesthe urban apart-


ment, the suburban house, the artists studio or loft, the urban office building, the art gallery, the modern art museum, and industrial sites, including the air terminal manifest their transparency by sustaining a number of functions and mythological readings. This is particularly true of the artists studio or loft, since it not only signifies a mutation of the urban apartment or implies some sort of handicraft, but also suggests that the artist is tending to a more public or corporate outlook.154 The two generating points of all mapnets are the poles. They are cartographys sites at zero degree. In his 1970 drawing A Surd View for an Afternoon (figure 3.37), Smithson labels the central horizontal axis of a sheet of polar coordinate paper perception at the zero degree and, by situating the air terminal at its center, provides a diagram that places cartography, the air terminal, and, by extension, structuralism at the center of his artistic practice. In a 1969 interview, he uses the phrase site at zero degree to describe his site selection process: The sites show the effect of time, sort of a sinking into timelessness. When I get to a site that strikes the kind of timeless chord, I use it. The site selection is by chance. There is no willful choice. A site at zero degree, where the material strikes the mind, where absences become apparent, appeals to me, where the disintegrating of space and time seems very apparent. Sort of an end of selfhood . . . the ego vanishes for awhile.155 Such claims for personal neutrality, even absence in the presence of such zero degree sites, echo Barthess delineations of a zero degree writing: writing at the zero degree is basically in the indicative mood, or if you like, amodal; it would be accurate to say that it is a journalists writing; if it were not precisely the case that journalism develops, in general, optative or imperative (that is emotive) forms. The new neutral writing takes its place in the midst of all those ejaculations and judgments, without becoming involved in any of them; it consists precisely in their absence.156 Godards soldiers occupy such a timeless landscapeneither urban nor suburban, just on the fringe of something, and devoid of landmarks of any kindbefore they are called away to war. The landscape they travel through while at war is still the French countryside and the people they encounter invariably speak French, regardless of the supposedly international scope of the soldiers campaigns.157 The postcards and archival film clips of tanks and bombers provide the soldiers and the film audience with the necessary exoticism and historical authenticity, but only the soldiers confuse these simulacra for something real. They are too involved and therefore blind to the circumstances of their situation, whereas Godard incites the audience to disassociate from the soldiers responses to see the politics and structure of the situation more clearly. Virginia Dwan identified Godards



Les Carabiniers as a pivotal film for Smithson that he hoped to emulate in his working process.158 However, Smithson manipulates Godards critique, as he did Kublers, to suit his own artistic purposes. His postcardsthe still and empty souvenirs of the monuments of Passaic or the incidents of mirror-travelare anti-postcards. They and their status as independent art objects are radically diminished and easily disposable. Yet as residue of activities now stilled, they continue to provide the viewer with a facsimile of time. Smithson uses rows of mirrors and other gridded frameworksmapnets, satellite photography, architectural modules, and the layout of the art magazineas a structuralist. The sites he selects, such as the air terminal or the Yucatan peninsula, may appear to vanish into these abstract frameworks of perpetual sameness, yet the frameworks also allow these sites to signify in new ways.159 They are endlessly transparent to new readings. Yucatan is elsewhere, Smithsons last line admits, but in a 1970 interview Smithson and Wheeler have a final exchange concerning the significance of this phrase and Smithsons goals in all of his travel work: Smithson: [new discoveries in physics about anti-matter] . . . raises the question of whether after all our corner of the universe is representative of the entire potentialities that may exist elsewhere. Elsewhere. Thats how the Yucatan runs. The Yucatan is elsewhere, so its like a kind of anti-Yucatan. Wheeler: That was a very good ending on that, cause it doesnt end anything. Like all of a sudden you step, if you want to, off into whatever goes elsewhere. And that doesnt even have to be the Yucatan at that point.160 Smithson offers an absence, but one that is open-ended. Every site stands empty but eternally open to signification. One needs only to reconstitute it within the terms of a present situation.
FIGURE 3.37 (opposite page) Robert Smithson, A Surd View for an Afternoon, 1970.



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The Freudian dualism prevents us from positing any break with nature, and consequently precludes the notion of a return to nature; and since the failure to posit a break with nature entails the necessity of projecting mans sickness back into nature, a return to nature, even if it were possible, would not be a return to health. norman o. brown, LIFE AGAINST DEATH If we can abstract pathogenicity and hygiene from our notion of dirt, we are left with the old definition of dirt as matter out of place. This is a very suggestive approach. It implies two conditions: a set of ordered relations and a contravention of that order. Dirt then, is never a unique, isolated event. Where there is dirt there is system. mary douglas, PURITY AND DANGER Modern day ecologists with a metaphysical turn of mind still see the operations of industry as Satans work. The image of the lost paradise garden leaves one without a solid dialectic, and causes one to suffer an ecological despair. Nature, like a person, is not one-sided. robert smithson, frederick law olmsted and the dialectical landscape

FIGURE 4.1 Robert Smithson, Partially Buried Woodshed, 1970.

Buried Architecture Sometime near the end of 1969, Smithson received an invitation to participate in Kent State Universitys Annual Creative Arts Festival. The students requested that he and four other guests give a public lecture or demonstration, appear on a panel, and visit classes. The stated aim of these events was to set up a new kind of communication between students, teachers (on the insides of the great citadels) and you artists (on the outside depending on how you look at it).1 Initially, Smithson proposed building a mudflow, a project that he had proposed for several previous venues but that in each case had proved either impractical or too environmentally invasive.2 At Kent State, low temperatures prevented him once again from executing the mudflow, so he turned to another project he had been considering for some timeburying a building. He located a site on the periphery of the campusan abandoned farm with a derelict woodshed that was used to store dirt, gravel, and firewood.3 On 22 January 1970, a building contractor hired by Smithson backhoed dirt from a campus construction site onto the shed until its central beam cracked. It took twenty truckloads. Smithson then signed a statement donating the work and a forty-five-foot area surrounding it to the University. As part of the gift, the Universitys Art Department had to accept the work as permanent and agree not to alter it or remove anything from it or from the fortyfive-foot surrounding area, although Smithson considered natural alterations and weathering to be part of the work.4 He called the work Partially Buried Woodshed. Although he documented the process of making Partially Buried Woodshed, Smithson claimed, as he did about his contemporary flows and pours of asphalt, concrete, or glue, that he was interested in this aspect of the work only insofar as it was absorbed into the experience of the work afterward. When asked about the significance of Asphalt Rundown, he stated: You see, its ultimately whats done after the truck pulls away.5 What all of these works do after the truck pulls away is collapse. Partially Buried Woodshed incorporates two interdependent experiences of collapse. The first, embodied in the cracked central beam, was a direct result of the process of loading dirt onto the woodshed and the point at which this process was suspended. The crack marked the moment when the sheds wooden framework began to give way under the accumulated weight of the dirtwhen the tension between the two materials was at its height but before these two materials totally collapsed into one another. It rendered this limit or boundary visible, tangible, and physical. In a series of drawings (figure 4.1), Smithson highlighted the two components of this suspended conditionwoodshed and dirt. In one of the drawings he indicates the



location and look of the cracked beam through a caption, arrows, and two images of the beamone inside the shed and the other a diagram outside the shed. In a caption to another drawing in the series, he states Pile on roof till it shows signs of breaking. The cracked beam is one of these signs. The cracked beam suspends other pairs of terms in close proximity as wellthe inside and outside of the shed and an awareness of gravitys effects versus gravitys physical manifestation, which is arrested at a precarious point. A contemporary viewer of the work might have anticipated what would happen next but couldnt know when or if a sudden total collapse would occur or even if it was safe to speculate or investigate. As already discussed, Smithson was fond of creating enantiomorphic situations to reveal the blind spots embedded within a number of descriptive models of perception. His Alogons, infra perspectives, and most notably his Enantiomorphic Chambers disrupt facile relationships between thought and perception, and his aerial works, nonsites, and mirror displacements open up gaps in or reveal limitations to mental and perceptual experiences of time and space. In all of these cases the tension produced once these limits were revealed was primarily conceptual; the mind raced to fill the gaps by repressing one term or by collapsing the two terms together. The physical and psychological tensions were minimal and safely contained by the institutional frame, whether gallery, museum, or magazine. Partially Buried Woodshed created a situation of real physical danger and, as a consequence, some physical and psychological discomfort. The boundaries or limits it revealed and pressed were potentially catastrophic or directly referred to catastrophic situations. The second experience of collapse generated by Partially Buried Woodshed, although implicit in the first, was less immediately perceptiblethe slow inevitable slide of the work into physical dissolution. While at Kent State, Smithson referred to this situation as the built-in breakability of the work.6 The beam crack functioned as a marker or point of no return in this de-structive process as well; once it appeared, the act of destruction and its consequences could not be undone or reversed. Eventually this crack would succumb to the forces that created it, and the two terms it suspended would collapse into each other, just as the black and white sand turned to grey when a child ran them together in Smithsons hypothetical sand box in The Monuments of Passaic. In summing up his sand box analogy, Smithson speculates that if we filmed such an experiment we could prove the reversibility of eternity by showing the film backwards, but then concedes that eventually the film itself would suffer the same entropic fate of irreversible physical dissolution.7 He


offered no such escape, however temporary, for the Partially Buried Woodshed, and nothing about its situation was hypothetical. Entropy willand doesprevail.8 The crack in the woodsheds central beam produces a physical cut or slice in time that clearly articulates the boundary between before and after at the very point of no return. In this sense, it materializes time as a marker of a fixed present tense just as it signifies a temporaland physicalunraveling. The situation is analogous to the contrasting durations in Smithsons Yucatan mirror displacement photographs, except in the Partially Buried Woodshed both temporalitiesabsent present (here a form of a past tense) and presentwere visible at the site, not just in images, at least for as long as the woodshed remained standing. The physical presence of both temporalities heightens an awareness of the continuous physical presence of entropy; it is not just a hypothetical concept or a fixed image. And once its destructive presence is indicated and marked, one realizes that it is always already present in every situationcollapsing or pulling things apart as soon as the truck pulls away. In a 1971 interview, Smithson was asked about his attitude toward such changes in his work over time. He responded at length on the relationships between physicality, entropy, and the disintegration of structures: The main objective is to make something massive and physical enough so that it can interact with those things [climate and its changes] and go through all kinds of modifications. If the work has sufficient physicality, any kind of natural change would tend to enhance the work. Geology has its own kind of entropy, that has to do with sediment mixtures. Sediment plays a part in my work. Unlike Buckminster Fuller, Im interested in collaborating with entropy. Some day I could like to compile all the different entropies. All the classifications would lose their grids. Lvi-Strauss had a good insight, he suggested we change the study of anthropology into entropology. It would be a study that devotes itself to the process of disintegration in highly developed structures. After all, wreckage is often more interesting than structure. At least, not as depressing as Dymaxion domes. Utopian saviors we can do without.9 Collapse also can be figured in terms of relative scale; one can compress or expandthings or experiences indefinitely as long as they share a common reference point. For example, relative scale can be transposed onto the inside/outside duality since, as Smithson notes, The Earth is an island. Everything is confined, whether it is indoors or outdoors. It is the degree of awareness of the ratio between the two.10 Smithsons site/nonsite configuration works in an analogous way because



each of its terms share the earth as a common point of reference. The site is a largescale, physical fraction of it, and the nonsite is a compressed, cartographic abstraction or model of this physical fraction. Both are minuscule in relation to the scale of the earth, but their relative scale helps the mind to grasp their vast, shared referent.11 In constructing Partially Buried Woodshed, Smithson brought the two terms of the site/nonsite configuration and their relative scales into much closer proximity, to the point where they almost collapse into one another. The works abstract modelin this case, the grid of architectural constructionis a found physical structurethe post and lintel construction of the woodshed. This structure is synonymous with the site and not an abstract projection of it. In addition, Smithson reverses the relative terms of containment so that the material gatheredthe dirt, which the abstract model usually contains in the gallerynow contains the model or framework and dictates its limits at the site: where there is dirt there is system. Smithsons Partially Buried Woodshed was a demonstration of sorts but not of a preconceived idea or set of actions. According to the artist, such a procedure would imply an ideal situationthe resulting work being some sort of representation or imperfect version of this preconceived situation. There would be no danger, no surprises, and the work itself would be a mere afterthought, analogous to the activities of astronauts on the moon or of most conceptual artists.12 What he stated concerning his Enantiomorphic Chambersthat it in a sense establishes a certain kind of point of departure not so much toward the idealistic notion of perception, but all the different breakdowns within perception, so thats what Im interested inholds for his Partially Buried Woodshed as well. It too zero[es] in on those aspects of mental experience that somehow coincide with the physical world.13 It accomplishes this by functioning as a model of a number of material conditions in the world; as a model, it renders these conditions perceptible as mental, physical, and emotional experiences. In The Savage Mind, Claude Lvi-Strauss suggests that the small-scale model or miniature might be the universal type for the work of art since almost all works of art are reductions in terms of scale, dimensionality, or number of the senses they address.14 Their reduction makes the object or experience to be reproduced seem, as a whole, less formidable, and, according to Lvi-Strauss, this quantitative transposition extends and diversifies our power over a homologue of the thing, and by means of it the latter can be grasped, assessed and apprehended at a glance.15 This homologue is necessarily man-made and therefore not a passive projection or purely a conceptual abstraction; it constitutes a real experiment with the thing on a


metaphorical level. In other words, Lvi-Strauss states, the intrinsic value of the small-scale model is that it compensates for the renunciation of sensible dimensions by the acquisition of intelligible dimensions.16 Lvi-Strausss definition of a work of art is similar to Barthess simulacrum of the object or Smithsons own version of the latter, his coded environment, in its effect; all three are tangible reiterations of an object with intellect added.17 In an interview conducted one month before he buried the woodshed, Smithson indirectly refers to Lvi-Strausss notion of art as a miniature: Every art is really a miniature and when the earth itself becomes a miniature, and you can reverse it. You can look at a grain of sand as a gigantic boulder; its just how you want to view it in terms of your scale sense. And that is why scale is one of the key issues, in terms of art.18 Finally, Lvi-Strauss sees the artistic process as a nicely balanced synthesis of one or more artificial and natural structures and one or more natural and social events. The aesthetic emotion is the result of this union between the structural order and the order of events, which is brought about within a thing created by man and so also in effect by the observer who discovers the possibility of such a union through the work of art.19 The crack in the beam signifies such a union between a structural order and the order of events on a scale that is both large enough and small enough to be materially and visually intelligible. The object that Smithson represents in miniature in his Partially Buried Woodshed is the mine. Mines, after all, are buried buildings or three-dimensional structural grids. Smithson merely reverses the terms of construction, just as he did on a smaller scale in his Cayuga Salt Mine Project a year earlier for Earth Art at Cornell University.20 In the earlier project, Smithson transformed a mine, his first underground site, into an exhibition site by setting up a series of mirror displacements within its tunnels. He then installed the mirrors, salt gathered from the mine, and photographs of the displacements in the universitys museum. The salt shored up the mirrors at both sites (figure 4.2), just as the dirt pressed and contained the wooden structure of Partially Buried Woodshed. Neither functioned solely as containers or frameworks; they articulated tenuous physical limits. One of Smithsons archival photographs of a nineteenth-century print entitled Mining on the Comstock illustrates the formal terms of this reversal (figure 4.3). The print depicts a mine in cross-section so that its gridded wooden infrastructure, nestled in the empty spaces carved out by the miners and supporting the surrounding rock surfaces left to be excavated, is visible. This infrastructure resembles some of the gridded geometric frameworks of Smithsons nonsites and the cartographic frameworks on which many of their designs are based. In



FIGURE 4.2 Robert Smithson, Eight-Part Piece (Cayuga Salt Mine Project), 1969.

an interview with Dennis Wheeler, Smithson seems to be describing this mining image or one very much like it: Smithson: It was just a matter of going to where the ore was, there was no preconceived idea of where the ore was, yet somehow they found a way to get to it. But its rather a crazy kind of grid situation instead of going . . . look at this, these center shafts coming down getting to this and . . . Wheeler: Getting to the center of what they were after. Smithson: And then the branching off aspect, again, everything can be read in terms of that. This calculus, this visual experience and physical evidence.21 Smithson describes the process of discovery and then of reaching limits, as represented by the mine, as imaginative rather than logical: You are going toward that particular material that you have decided that you need, the resource, yet how you get there is not based on any preconceived tautological logic, otherwise like what youd have is like the perfect mountain. . . . And this is the difference, this is the way that I think. Where this is [what] I would call the conceptual fallacy, where physical reality


isnt like that.22 Smithson uses the term imaginative in an unorthodox manner; he means it to fold together the mental processes of imagining and imaging with experiences of the real. He inverts the structure of logic so that the search becomes real, physical, more dangerous and tenuous, and genuinely new.23 The miners search and the mines conditions balance the real and the hypothetical or the real and the abstract, just as the crumbling walls, even though they are shored up by the wooden infrastructure, continue to break down, from the force of the miners pickax, from the much slower process of geological erosion, or from the mines sudden, catastrophic collapse due to the relentless pull of gravity. The grid maintains a fragile boundary that suspends the collapse of the mine and marks a temporary edge of discovery. Smithson concludes: Its admitting to, like, most of our abstractions are hypothetical. Our mapping is hypothetical, because we have to make an outline. We have to outline the continents, the land masses, and yet when you get into the actual land masses, then you find where is the edge of this. . . . and theres always the temptation to want to simplify this.24 But this edge, whether a shoreline or a mountain contour line, is always subtly shifting and eroding the abstraction. Both the miner and the viewer of Partially Buried Woodshed experience the edges or framework and what they contain as

FIGURE 4.3 T. L. Dawes, Mining on the Comstock, 1876.



real, even though the boundary between them is always somewhat precarious and in the process of eroding. Lewis Mumford calls mining un-building or Abbau in his 1961 text The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its Prospects. He claims that the mine, along with the factory and the railroad, was one of the generating agents of the new city or what he calls Coketown.25 Minings slavish routine, whose labor was an intentional punishment for criminals, became the normal environment of the new industrial worker, and the railroad extended its un-building process into almost every industrialized community by the third quarter of the nineteenth century.26 Mumford elaborates: Few of us correctly evaluate the destructive imagery that the mine carried into every department of activity, sanctioning the anti-vital and the anti-organic. Before the nineteenth century the mine had, quantitatively speaking, only a subordinate part in mans industrial life. By the middle of the century it had come to underlie every part of it. And the spread of mining was accompanied by a general loss of form throughout society: a degradation of the landscape and a no less brutal disordering of the communal environment. Agriculture creates a balance between wild nature and mans social needs. . . . The process of mining, on the other hand, is destructive: the immediate product of the mine is disorganized and inorganic; and what is once taken out of the quarry or the pithead cannot be replaced.27 Eventually, Mumford argues, this un-building began to spread to the urban environment in the form of the underground city ideal of bundling all services together and burying them underground in a network of tunnels: As one should expect of a regime whose key inventions came out of the mine, the tunnel and the subway were its unique contributions to urban form; and not uncharacteristically, both these utilities were direct derivatives of war, first in the ancient city, and later in the elaborate sapping and mining necessary to reduce the baroque fortification. Though the surface forms of Coketowns transportation and shelter have been widely replaced, its underground network has prospered and proliferated.28 This network provided a new kind of urban environment and life, based on an extension and normalization of the conditions initially forced on the miner. Once accepted, the conditions of this underground environmentmechanically produced and controlled light and ventilationemerged from the underground and increasingly dictated the design of build-


ings erected above ground as well, and so, according to Mumford, defeated art at every point.29 As we have seen, Smithson was able to make a lot of art out of a similar conceptual model of the metropolisthe interpenetration and mirroring of a crystalline structure shared by suburban New Jersey and urban New York and connected by a network of tunnels. He describes New Jerseys holes, in contrast to New York Citys tightly packed spaces, in his notebook draft of A Guide to the Monuments of Passaic New Jersey. Smithsons analogies could be linked to Mumfords image of Coketowns irreversible displacement of materials from the mine to factories and urban areas via the railroad. In his discussion with Wheeler, Smithson draws his pair of analogies even closer to Mumfords (perhaps knowingly but more likely unwittingly) when he compares the underground image of the mine to a map that encompasses both the site for his 1968 Nonsite, Line of Wreckage, Bayonne, New Jersey and a small corner of Manhattan (figure 4.4): Lets say you take, don ta don ta da . . . , how does New York go. New York City becomes a reflection in this, except it is underground.30 The map doesnt contain any underground views of the quadrangle of space it represents. That is not the function of such a map. Only the mine print, or something like it, can reveal the underground labyrinth that New York reflects. Smithsons use of the term underground refers to physical, conceptual, and psychological conditions, as does Mumfords: Smithson: Here [Bayonne] its a different experience, flung out where this [New York City] is concentrated. All the activity, mental activity is going on in here, and this is sort of forgotten, but its basically, paradigmatically the same kind. Wheeler: This is only thought of as a material, a resource. Smithson: But it reflects, the structuring is reflected so that that kind of feedback, there is no real, all this spin-off, like spinning off into this and going back to this.31 The back and forth continues without end, without the possibility of separation, even though one side of the equation may be forgotten or repressedlike the mine. Through the process of Abbauun-buildingSmithson transforms an abandoned farm and its seemingly innocent, balanced agrarian decay into a precarious but inevitable postindustrial entropic slide. A site at zero degree has been reconstituted in terms of its present institutional situation and, as it turns out, prophetically so.32 On 4 May 1970, four months after the work was completed at Kent State University, four students were shot and killed there, and nine others were wounded by



FIGURE 4.4 Robert Smithson, drawing on Jersey City quadrangle, c. 1968.

National Guardsmen during a campus protest against the U.S. invasion of Cambodia. This event marked a turning point in the antiwar movement and, for some, the end of this movement.33 The mounting tensions on the Kent State campus and efforts to contain them would have been evident to Smithson, even if he had no direct contact with student political organizations while he was there. The front page of the student newspaper, the Daily Kent Stater, published on 23 January 1970, the day after Partially Buried Woodshed was completed, features a photograph of the work with a brief caption, but most of the paper contains articles relating to tensions between students and university law enforcement. The tone of an article on the Law Enforcement Administration Program is typical of all of the rest: Although much of our social control has


broken down, tougher, harder and more stringent punishment is not the answer. In a society that is attacking the basic roots and causes of disorder, the answer can only be enlightened law enforcement.34 The conditions at Kent State were no different than they were on any number of college campuses during the late 1960s, up until the events of May 1970. Boundaries of all kinds were increasingly subject to pressure and to collapse. In a 1970 interview, Smithson remarked: Boundaries are essentially political in their basis.35 For Smithson, then, to render these boundaries visible in all of their complexity is to act politically. So, as it turns out, Smithson was practicing his own brand of entropology at Kent State by devoting himself to the process of disintegration in highly developed structures. Whether intentional or not, the pressure that Smithson articulates in Partially Buried Woodshed was mirrored in the threatened collapse of political and educational boundaries in the developing crisis at Kent State. The difference between the collapse he set in motion and the one that occurred four months later was not simply a matter of scale, though scale enters into it. The difference depends on the way each registered as a violation in social and political terms.

Trespassing There is one warning to which we shall have to give heed in making this attempt. The similarity between taboo and compulsion disease may be purely superficial, holding good only for the manifestations of both without extending into their deeper characteristics. Nature loves to use identical forms in the most widely different biological connections as, for instance, for coral stems and plants and even for crystals or for the formation of certain chemical precipitates. It would certainly be both premature and unprofitable to base conclusions relating to inner relationships upon the correspondence of merely mechanical conditions. We shall bear this warning in mind without, however, giving up our intended comparison on account of the possibility of such confusions. sigmund freud, TOTEM

According to Sigmund Freud a taboo expresses itself essentially in prohibitions and restrictions, which signal profound dread of contact and a desire to establish distance from something deemed unapproachable.36 This dread manifests itself in two contradictory responses to the unapproachableveneration and horrorand these



responses extend to anyone or thing who has come in contact with a taboo individual, object, place or activity, either intentionally or unintentionally, since they now can tempt others to follow their example: Why should he be allowed to do what is prohibited to others? He is therefore really contagious, in so far as every example incites to imitation, and therefore he himself must be avoided.37 Freud claims, however, that there is little difference between the acts of someone who desires to establish some form of ritualistic distance from taboo objects, places, or individuals and the acts of a taboo individual: The compulsive action is nominally a protection against the forbidden action; but we would say that actually it is a repetition of what is forbidden. The word nominally is here applied to the conscious whereas the word actually applies to the unconscious instance of the psychic life.38 These actions also mask a temporal repetition as well: The thing which we, just like primitive man, project in outer reality, can hardly be anything else than the recognition of a state in which a given thing is present to the senses and to consciousness, next to which another state exists in which the thing is latent, but can reappear, that is to say, the co-existence of perception and memory, or, to generalize it, the existence of unconscious psychic processes next to conscious ones.39 Freud states that scientific thinking has replaced this faith in the omnipotence of thought, and its ability to make desires real through reiteration, in every domain but one, the arts: Only in art does it still happen that a man who is consumed by desires performs something resembling the accomplishment of those desires and that what he does in play produces emotional effectsthanks to artistic illusionjust as though it were something real.40 Freud attaches the ambivalent set of actions and corresponding emotions associated with taboo to the psyche through the concept of transference or displacement; both terms refer to the reproduction of emotions relating to repressed experiences and a replacement of another person or logically inappropriate object for the original object of the repressed impulses or emotions. Smithsons use of the term displacement shares more with psychoanalysis than terminology. Viewers encounter the displacementsand almost all of Smithsons workwithin sites often associated with distanced veneration: museums, galleries, or the pages of art magazines. But these encounters also produce some discomforta lack of fit, Ive called itwhich directs the viewer out of these spaces to other sites and the horrors of their complete lack of containment. Smithson often linked this vertiginous spinning out to the uncontained site to Anton Ehrenzweigs description of the interaction between burial or containment and scattering and the artists equivalent process of scanning, what Ehrenzweig calls dedifferentiationa dynamic process by which


the ego scatters and represses surface imagery.41 But Smithson has also attributed the qualitative effects inherent to the experiential split of here and there, which is generated by his work, directly to the types of sites he chooses and their corresponding emotional and social associations. When, for example, Smithson first describes the site for his 1968 Nonsite, Line of Wreckage, Bayonne, New Jersey, to Dennis Wheeler, he points to Bayonne on a map and says: Here is Bayonne on the other side of the river, and the city starts in there, and heres the city. Its like the run-off literally; then its a matter, no matter how squalid the situation is it can always be metamorphosed into a context within this situation here.42 Not only is the Bayonne site sort of forgotten, but . . . basically, paradigmatically the same as New York City, but it is also a taboo area: the Line of Wreckage would certainly be taboo, like pollution, [a] foul area.43 Getting to this and most of Smithsons sites also requires crossing boundaries and a willingness to commit forbidden acts: Actually we just drove out and ignored the no trespassing signs. Once you get out into these areas there is always no trespassing . . . Taboo, totem, taboo. . . .44 Smithson, like Freud, moves beyond the superficial distinctions between protection and taboo to understand the relationship between them. In doing so, he rarely keeps his distance. Much has been made of the types of sites Smithson chosequarries, dumps, depressed postindustrial towns, or the peripheries of airfields and ancient ruinsbut, as I have already indicated, not enough has been made of how he perceived these forgotten and, according to Smithson, often taboo places. While describing his nonsites to John Perreault in 1969, Smithson remarked: Im not interested in casting material but in art thats made out of casting a glance.45 Although he wants to distinguish what he is doing from more traditional sculptural practices such as casting in bronze, Smithsons alternative, casting glances, involves a transformation process that is equally physical. He uses the camera to turn glances at threedimensional sites into framed, two-dimensional images, just as he frames other types of materials from these sites in three-dimensional containers made of metal, wood, or mirrorized glass. Both types of containers render these sites or sights in miniature and allow them to be grasped, assessed and apprehended at a glance, but the cameras activities are also, according to Smithson, taboo. In an essay entitled Art Through the Cameras Eye, Smithson characterizes cameras as indifferent mechanical eyes, ready to devour anything in sight, including works of art, by transforming them into slides and prints that pile up in the galleries, waiting to be reproduced in some newspaper or magazine. Artists may try to find hideouts for their work, and



yet, Smithson concludes, the totems of art and the taboos of the camera continue to haunt them.46 The cameras taboos derive from its ability to destabilize the visual and physical limits of individual works of art; it renders these limits visible while trespassing them. The taboo temporarily overcomes the totem, vanquishes it or, to be precise, suspends the distinction between the two since the camera often produces the only tangible aspect of the work of art even as it devours it and allows it to circulate as an indefinite number and type of images. Nowhere does Smithson make this process clearer than in his 1968 Photo-Markers.47 These images began as black and white photographs taken at various stops of Six Stops on a Section, a 1968 nonsite. Sometime later, Smithson took the photographs back to the New Jersey sites where he had made them, placed them on the ground, and rephotographed them, using color slide film (figure 4.5). In this second set of images, the black and white photographs become objects among others in the landscape; they even cast their own shadows and provide a contrasting scale and point of view. The layered images make it difficult to determine which set of imagesthe black and white prints or the color slidesor which sight

FIGURE 4.5 (see PLATE 8) Robert Smithson, Photo-Marker (from Six Stops on a Section), Laurel Hill, New Jersey, 1968.


or site functions as the referent; all three become sequential instances in a potentially endless process of reproduction. Image and object, sight and site, abstraction and nature, endlessly displace one another. They circulate as infinite reiterationstaboo, totem, tabooand the camera makes it all possible. As I have already argued, much of Smithsons practice was based on repetition. Most of Smithsons repeated actions were accompanied by a repeated perception, a cast glance of the camera. Both his actions and photographs echoed not only his own previous actions and perceptions but also the actions and perceptions of others in the distant and not so distant past. Memory is always operative in Smithsons work. But the memory of one particular taboo site and sight of perception constantly returns. Smithson crosses it out or excises it, only to allow it to return, displaced somewhere else. This site/sight is the body. In the 1965 collage, Afterthought Enantiomorphic Chambers (see figure 1.25), Smithson crosses out the cut-out photographic image of his own body positioned at the center of the work to emphasize its ambivalent role in the design and function of the stereoscope. The body is the ghost in the stereoscopic machine, which needs to be there but also needs to be repressed by the viewer for the device to work and for its three-dimensional mirage to appear. The body played a similarly ambivalent role in Greenbergs optical mirage, his solution to the ambiguities he believed were inherent to perceiving abstraction. Smithsons redesigned stereoscope, Enantiomorphic Chambers, calls attention to this ambivalence toward the body by eliminating it from sight. One looks in the works paired mirrors and sees nothing but the bodys absence. But this absence brings the body back to consciousness and reminds the viewer that the body, in conjunction with the mind, and not the supposed ambiguities of abstraction causes perceptual problems. And these are not the only problems it causes. Smithsons negated torso does not represent the earliest instance of the artists use of a cut-out image of a body in his work. His sexually charged captions to this torsostopping of sight not by brutal opposition but by lowering the head and his reference to pocket-polo added in small print under the phrase hands in pockets refer to sex actsgiving head and masturbationthat are often the subject of or associated with sexual cruising or looking at pornographic images.48 Many of Smithsons mid-1960s drawings and collages contain images cut from or traced out of magazines produced primarily for such a purpose even though some of these magazines mask their true function behind other, more respectable and ostensibly legal purposes, such as the promotion of a healthy nudist lifestyle or the male physique. The publishers of male physique



pictorials sometimes veiled homoerotic imagery as art or as tools for the artista classic act of taboo passing as totemby posing models with Greek columns or in positions that echo famous classical statues.49 Although images of full frontal nudity, particularly of men and children, were illegal, these male physique pictorials and nudist magazines would have been two of a limited number of print sources for such images available at the time. In Untitled (Hysteria) (figure 4.6), Smithson inserts one of these illicit images of a naked male torso into a film still from the 1964 Hammer production, Hysteria.50 He cut the image of the torso out of its original source, cut a semi-abstract painting out of the film still, placed the torso image on top of the image of the painting, and then taped both to the back of the film still. The torso image both covers and displaces the original one. The criminal act of framingfilling in for or covering of one body by (and for) anotheralso provides the substance of Hysterias plot. The main character, Chris Smith, suffers from amnesia, and his doctor, who has murdered his own wife, takes advantage of Smiths lack of memory and drug-induced hallucinations to frame him for the murder. The doctors scheme unravels when Smith reveals that he has been acting all along; his mental instabilityhis hysteriawas a calculated role that he had been playing. Lvi-Strauss begins Totemism with a reference to hysteria and a suggestive comparison: Totemism is like hysteria, in that once we are persuaded to doubt that it is possible arbitrarily to isolate certain phenomena and to group them together as diagnostic signs of an illness, or of an objective institution, the symptoms themselves vanish or appear refractory to any unifying interpretation. . . . The vogue of hysteria and that of totemism were contemporary, arising from the same cultural conditions, and their parallel misadventures may be initially explained by a tendency, common to many branches of learning toward the close of the nineteenth century, to mark off certain human phenomenaas though they constituted a natural entitywhich scholars preferred to regard as alien to their own moral universe, thus protecting the attachment which they felt toward the latter.51 Smithson reveals his awareness of the connection between the two terms in his interview with Wheeler: Freud, no Lvi-Strauss says that totemism comes from hysteria. Its very similar to hysteria. Wheeler responds: Its generated out of the edge and nervous break. Both were convenient fictions, forms of protection which provide the necessary illusion of enforced cultural and sexual boundaries because, as Smithson


asks, How long can a man live in a void without going nuts?52 Smithson searched out voids or cultural blind spots or absences, as Ive been calling them. He wrote about them, and he created quite a few himself. Some of the earliest examples of his void-making activities can be found in his collection of magazines in the form of neat rectangular or square holes. These voids appear most frequently where the images of genitals or breasts once were. Many more of these images have been carefully excised than can be accounted for in Smithsons known works; one imagines envelopes, files, or even drawers full of them. What remains in the archive are the empty frames (figure 4.7). Through them, one sees framed fragments of other, contrasting imagescolor images through a surrounding black and white frame or
Robert Smithson, Untitled (Hysteria), n.d.



female genitalia inserted into a male torso or vice versa. The taboo areas that Smithson displaces from these images may show up elsewhere, but their displacement also causes a disturbance on the page of the magazine that remains.53 A site and expected sight are missing and replaced by something else unexpected that doesnt precisely fit, even though it belongs to the same order of sitesthe naked body and the magazineand sightsthe photographic image.54 Smithson cuts into these images just as he later describes the camera indiscriminately devouring everything in sight. No ego, he claims.55 Hisand the camerasindifference toward the sanctity of individual images or things permits them to circulate so that the relationships between them become apparent. Smithsons magazine cutouts and his Photo-Markers, mirror displacements, and nonsites share a structure of displacement. A presence belies an absence; an abstraction re-presents the body. A splitting in two, a covering up, and a revelation occur. A protection that in reality is a repetition enacts the boundary between totem and taboo, disrupts it, and sacrifices the one for the other at the same time that it reveals that one can, in fact, be the othera return of the repressed from underneath. A movie poster for Hysteria consists of a black and white photograph of the hero, hands pressing temples and brow furrowed. A zig-zag cut down through the center of his face severs the image in half, echoing the characters supposed mental confusion. The zig-zag image also resembles the lightning bolts that drop down Smithsons 1964 painting High Sierra (see figure 1.21), frame central collage elements in a number of other contemporary works (figure 4.8), and flicker on and off in The Eliminator (see figure 1.22), which was also executed in 1964. When these works are viewed together, the sly references to film culture that Smithson makes in the title of the painting and others like it gather strength. The Eliminator s shuttering neon tube begins to suggest faulty movie house marquees where campy, pornographic, or other types of alternative films might be shown, films that might contain images analogous to those Smithson cut or traced out of his magazines or pasted inside the lightning-bolt borders of his collages. Cuts and the framing edge commingle in all of this work to, paraphrasing Smithson, reveal decadent forms permeating much of what was called pure art as well as pure criticism. What Greenberg and others claimed to be a modernist form of protection against impurities, including the body, Smithson identified as a mannerist convention and a crux. In 1966, Peter Hutchinson labeled Smithsons and others parodies of hard-edge paintings abstract mannerism. He called the most extreme examples hysterical. They were frozen, paralyzed, and referred to worlds that were artificial and uninhabitable but not without benefit: It
FIGURE 4.7 (opposite page) (see PLATE 9) Robert Smithson, altered image from Nudist Sun, n.d.



FIGURE 4.8 Robert Smithson, Untitled (Classical Head), 1963.

would be a true Mannerist convention that works done despairingly, that desperately parody, should turn out to be truly significant.56 Smithson would have embraced the idea of himself as an abstract manneristhe certainly thought that Greenberg was onealthough his work reflects neither despair nor a desire to desperately parody. He used artificeprimarily physical and theoretical edges of all kindsto reveal the presence of artifice in all things and the artificial limits to artifice itself. In the process, he indulged in parody, but these parodies, like any of his reiterations, were always consequential. Wheeler describes the mirror reflections of the storm of butterflies in the third Yucatan mirror displacement as an image of the basement of the sky that merges with the darkness of the earth and draws together these two forcesearth and sky in a weird blending. The mirrors are a slash in between it that act as a release. Smithson responds: Well, thats what I talk about in the beginning [of the Yucatan essay] with like the sacrifice of matter as a kind of very primordial idea. Not human sacrifice, but theres a


disjunction. And that disjunction releases a certain kind of awareness. And this is what who wrote a book called Death and Sensuality points outthats George Bataille. The disjunction was what was so liberating to the primitives. But to us, the disjunction becomes almost disgusting; this revulsion enters into it. . . . In other words, the personal becomes just subsumed by all these abstract forces. I mean you could even include pollution as an abstract force, that is caught between man and nature as a kind of friction or disturbance.57 Smithsons physical cuts, like his cracked beam, locate boundaries and reveal limits at the point that they trespass on them. Two apparently mutually exclusive realmsinside/outside, system/dirt, totem/taboo, abstraction/the body, life/death expose their edges and their contingency. The necessary artifice behind their distinctions momentarily comes to light.

Image Crisis Certainly De Quincy saw the horror, where others see the depth, of the prison of modern form, the place where we accept the knowledge that our inherited ways of echoing the structure of the world have no concord with it, but only, and then under conditions of great difficulty, with the desires of our own minds. frank kermode, THE

Philip Simkin invited Smithson and fifteen other artists to participate in an exhibition on thirty acres of land in Loveladies, Long Beach Island, New Jersey, in the summer of 1969. Smithson produced two earthmaps Urination Map of the Constellation Hydra and Map of Broken Glass (Atlantis).58 For the first, he urinated until a small puddle developed at each star-point of an image of the constellation that he plotted on the island. Then he recorded his actions in five Instamatic snapshots (figure 4.9). Adjacent to a map of the project and underneath a description of his actions, he added a quotation from Alexander Popes Dunciad: who best can send on high the salient spout, far-streaming to the sky.59 In this section of the poem Games in Honour of the Goddess of Dullness, Pope compares a poetry competition between dull poets modeled on his contemporaries to a pissing contest. Smithsons own pissing contest results in a victory of sorts, since several of the project proposals by his contemporaries, which involved various forms of pollution, were rejected. Dennis



Oppenheims proposal, Infected Zone, called for 400 pounds of chemical residue and 200 pounds of rat poison, and Robert Morriss project, Loveladies: A Performance for the Land, required twelve ladies to wander around a designated area and be available for lovemaking to anyone who came along during the time of the performance between 12 midnight and 2 a.m.60 Morris suggested that the male performers be restricted to the artists participating in the show. Both Oppenheim and Morriss works were not executed due, according to the exhibition catalogue, to local conditions. It is not difficult to conceive of what those local conditions might have been since the two performances consisted of actions that would have deliberately defied social and legal taboos against prostitution and pollution. Smithsons Urination Map once again drew the sky and the earth together via a projected abstraction, this time a constellation and a myth: Hydra, the manyheaded serpent slain by Hercules. Map of Broken Glass (Atlantis), like all of Smithsons other hypothetical continents, transposed a materialized image of a mythical island from the distant past onto a historically present terrain, which, in this case, also hapFIGURE 4.9 Robert Smithson, study for Urination Map of the Constellation Hydra, 1969.

pened to be an island. Smithson rendered the hypothetical boundaries of his two maps with displaced, unclean, and potentially dangerous materials. Real and hypothetical spaces, nature and abstraction, landscape and dirt, were brought into close proximity. Over time the distinctions between them slowly and imperceptibly dissipated. Smithsons urine was absorbed into the sandy soil, and his pile of glass eroded


back into sand. Taboos infringed on totems but presumably were able to pass as, to paraphrase Williams, art in the local condition through their mode of presentation as modern replicas of myths and poetic actions from the past.61 A distance, however precarious, was maintained. In a footnote to Incidents of Mirror-Travel in the Yucatan, Smithson suggests that his glass map at Loveladies was to be one of a series: Other Maps of Broken Glass (Atlantis) will follow, each with its own odd limits.62 Near the end of January 1970, Smithson traveled to Vancouver, British Columbia, to execute several works, including Island of Broken Glass. Here the fit between a glass map and its site was to be more precise: one hundred tons of broken glass were to be dumped onto and totally cover a large, barren rock off the coast of Vancouver called Miami Islet. The resulting work would no longer reiterate a hypothetical image, which would emerge from and then submerge into the sea in terms of a past tensethus, safely at a distance. Smithsons goal was to reveal things as they are.63 In this case, local ecologists viewed Smithsons proposal as environmentally irresponsible. Although there was little evidence to support their claims that the project would endanger people and local wildlife, they succeeded in stopping the trains carrying the necessary glass for the project at the U.S. and Canadian border, the Canadian government rescinded its land permits, and Smithson was forced to look elsewhere for an island to cover.64 What Smithson understood to be natures dangers, namely, storms, floods, and erosion, which would eventually destroy both islandsMiami Islet and its island of glass coveringhis critics projected onto him: the fact that somebody will swim out there and impale themself on that glass is like not my fault.65 Both totem and artist, through his apparently taboo actions, became taboo. A cartoon published in the Vancouver Sun exemplified this collapse in classic, Freudian terms.66 Two proper elderly ladiesand a group of seagullsglare with disgust at a disheveled man who stands at the threshold of a liquor store carrying bags filled with liquor bottles. His explanation for his appearance reveals that he is meant to be a caricature of Smithson: Actually Im an artist . . . do you happen to know of an island suitable for covering with broken glass? This artistSmithsonis at once polluter and polluted, a drunk. Heand his bodybecome visible, but only in terms of a clich, an art-world myth. The art critic Grace Gluecks column for The New York Times on Sunday, 12 March 1972, begins with the headline: Artist-in-Residence for Mother Earth. In her text, she credits the current ecology boom, in part, for reviving the Great Outdoors as a sub-



ject for art exhibitions, and she praises Alan Gussow in particular for his beautiful, impressionistic landscape paintings and his committed ecological views, calling him a sort of spiritual caretaker. Smithson viewed Gluecks column and particularly the quotations she includes from Gussow as evidence of something quite differenta profound and pathetic ambivalence toward nature, which he called the Ecological Oedipus Complex: Simone de Beauvoir has written in The Second Sex, Aeschylus says of Oedipus that he dared to seed the sacred furrow where he was formed. Alan Gussow in The New York Times projects onto earth works artists an Oedipus Complex born out of a wishywashy transcendentalism. Indulging in spiritual fantasy, he says of representational landscape painters in his book ( A Sense of Place: Artists and the American Land, published by Friends of the Earth), What these artists do is make these places visible, communicate their spiritnot like the earth works artists who cut and gouge the land like Army engineers. Whats needed are lyric poets to celebrate it. Gussows projection of the Army engineers on what he imagines to be earth works artists seems linked to his own sexual fears.67 Gussow describes earth art in terms of a set of actions and social types who would commit such actionssexually aggressive males who overpower a defenseless, female earth. Others used similarly sexual metaphors to claim just the opposite. For example, Max Kozloff begins a 1969 review of earth art in The Nation with a quotation from Walt Whitmans Leaves of Grass: I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love. If you want me again, look for me under your bootsoles. Kozloff then remarks: So saying, Walt Whitman left a hint now curiously, and for the most part, unconsciously, taken up by numerous contemporary sculptors whose work withdraws into the earth whence the raw materials of sculpture had once been lifted and configured in upright presences.68 Kozloffs description implies passivity and horizontality for the artist and for the work of art, a position often linked with abjectness, and the source of what gets stuck to the bottom of shoesworking with and being dirt. Like the cartoonist and regardless of their position along the political spectrum, Gussow and Kozloff substitute a critique of the artist, reduced to limited set of psychosexual stereotypes or deviant impulses, for a detailed discussion of the work. Roy Bongartz, in a longer, 1970 essay in The New York Times Magazine, doesnt use sexually inflected imagery to describe individual earth artists or their actions, but he does concede one unifying characteristic for all of their work that


sets it apart: ordinarily you cannot see this art.69 Throughout the essay, Bongartz quotesand misquotesthe artists themselves to support this argument; he claims, for example, that many believe that Oldenburgs Placid Civic Monument (see figure 2.13) is the purest piece of earth art, presumably because it disappeared as soon as it came into existence.70 The essay ends in a flurry of quotations from a wide variety of sources who seem to indicate that, although they may disagree on the significance of the earth art movement, they find the absence of something to be seen, without mediation, as central to it: William Johnson, Art News: These pieces will never be seen in the original, but by now this shouldnt upset any but the most paranoid of observers. Hilton Kramer, New York Times: I consider it out of order for a critic to pass judgment on work he has never seen. Lucy Lippard: A profound dematerialization of art may lead to the objects becoming wholly obsolete. Jean-Louis Bourgeois: Going to a gallery and finding only photos is a little like going to a whorehouse and finding only pornography. Bongartz characterizes the response of a final, unnamed writer to this situation as more optimistic, because he or she suggests that since we cannot exhibit the work, we should just circulate the artist.71 Because earthworks appeared to so deeply compromise the conventional circumstances of the art object, many critics turned their attention to the artist, his persona and his actions, instead.72 The contemporary artist was already circulating as a popular subject in mass-market books and articles well before the advent of earth art. In an unpublished essay written around 1967 entitled From Ivan the Terrible to Roger Corman or Paradoxes of Conduct in Mannerism as Reflected in the Cinema, Smithson addresses this phenomenon in terms of acting. He identifies two types of roles that artists and critics tend to develop. In the first, the artist does not assume that he or she is playing a role; he or she just acts naturally. Smithson credits Constantine Stanislavsky with formalizing this role in so far as he based his method on internal feelings and natural expressions. Smithson claims that Stanislavskys method indirectly shaped the lifestyles of many U.S. artists and critics, as evidenced by photographs of artists and



critics . . . pos[ing] or fak[ing] being unaffected and imitating everyday, mundane, natural eventssuch as playing baseball, on-the-job painting or drinking beer.73 The second type of role, which Smithson associates with V. V. Meyerhold and Bertolt Brecht, produces an alienation effect by call[ing] attention to the physical elements of illusion; thus illusion exists on an equal level with reality.74 Brecht derived his conception of the a-effect from looking at the narrative pictures of Pieter Brueghel the Elder. Smithson paraphrases Brechts description of how Brueghels Tower of Babel includes portions of a cliff, between which one can see the artificiality of the stonework, and remarks: The cliff is thus alienated from the artificiality of the stonework. 75 Smithson offers Sergei Eisensteins Ivan the Terrible, as a filmic example of a-effect and asserts that Ivan is a set of manners, or a collection of devices.76 Eisenstein describes his own process in terms of generating a series of mental images of actors and settings captured stenographically in drawings that are reconstituted as individual shots: Cherkasovs incomparably lithe and flexible body will practice long and tiringly to produce the tragic bend of Tzar Ivans figure so spontaneously fixed on paper as camera set-ups.77 In each instance, Eisenstein and his actors attempt to map mental images onto the real by bringing the latter into conformity with the former. The result of this melding of illusion and reality is clearly artificial but is filled with significance when viewed in the overall context of the film. In an article on a staging of Brechts Mother Courage, published around the same time that Smithson wrote From Ivan the Terrible to Roger Corman, Barthes uses a sequence of photographic stills to explain how Brechts distancing technique generates meaning. The stills highlight what Brecht called social gestures. These gestures, such as a raised finger or a smile, are a function of the social position or role each character enacts. With each gesture, an individual actor is subsumed by their role to become a function or sign of it, in relation to other roles, each of which is alienated differently in a social hierarchy. These different types of alienationnot the actions of individual charactersadd up to the political meaning of the play. Barthes summarizes the effect: one fears that the spectacle will be impoverished, will freeze to death, if the actor does not shed on it the fire of his body, the lavishness and warmth of his temperament. . . . Put differently, to distance is to cut the circuit between the actor and his own pathos, but it is also, and essentially, to re-establish a new circuit between the role and the argument; it is, for the actor, to give meaning to the play, and no longer to himself in the play.78 The actor embodies a rolemakes it realbut the reality embodied is a set of abstract social relations. In the case of Mother Courage,


this abstraction is trade. Barthes describes it as an ambiguous force insider her, realistic and non-realistic at the same time. Accordingly, sometimes it makes her blind; sometimes it makes her indifferent to the noble justifications of the war. It surges up in her like a power of truth; sometimes enclosing her in the profit only, it hides from her what the war can really cost her.79 Smithson doesnt cite Barthess essay in From Ivan the Terrible to Roger Corman, but he does refer to Barthess theoretically similar discussion of Garbos face in Mythologies in terms of an Idea and Bardots in terms of a happening, and he links the former to a mannerist picture and the latter to an expressionist painting, which, for him, are analogous to the alienation effect and naturalism in acting.80 And in his discussion of Warhols film My Hustler, Smithson appears to have transposed Barthess analysis of Mother Courage onto Paul America, whom he describes as no honest whore : The hustler puts sex into his work: his sex, however, is no longer his own, but rather a commodity value that belongs to his employerthus sex becomes an alien thing to the hustler.81 Such distancing techniques make Warhol the perfect director of brilliant mannerist travesties of the phony naturalism of were-justordinary-guys-doing-our-thing found in many contemporary photographs of artists and critics by having queens act like these plain-janes.82 Brecht and Warhols actors self-consciously call attention both to their artificiality and their ability to function as cultural referents; the artists caught by the camera in the midst of an everyday activity unconsciously assume an unmediated expression of a natural self even as they conform to a set of recognizable, predominately middle-class stereotypes of domesticity not previously associated with artists.83 The latter is a constructed natural moment; the former is a simulacrum of one with intellect added, even if in the form of parody. Myth-making gives way to deliberate fiction. The mask is revealed to be a mask, a covering that functions as a sign not of the individual sentiments of the actor or the artist but of the conditions and limits of social representation. The framing edge of the camera brings them both into circulation and allows them to be compared as images of two different types of acting and two different types of roles. About four years later, in Art Through the Cameras Eye, Smithson argues that the camera can produce its own alienation effect through its emotionally indifferent geometric framing. Specifically, its cast glances could reconcile abstraction and nature and address the fear that has, according to Smithson, defined their relationship: Abstraction emerges from a psychological fear of nature, and a distrust of the organic. Cities are abstract complexes of grids and geometries in flight from natural forces. The primitive dread of nature that Wilhelm Worringer put forth as the root of



abstraction has devolved into what David Antin calls affluent spirituality. Rather than turn their backs on nature, certain artists are now confronting it with the medium of the camera, as well as working directly with it.84 Mans fear of nature has also been articulated in terms of a misguided anthropomorphism, which renders nature in its own image. According to Smithson, ecology is the latest notion of humanized nature, or what used to be called naturalism. Both approachesabstraction and naturalismhave erected contained and coherent totemic protections against uncontained and incoherent taboo areas. But, Smithson states, Abstraction like nature is in no way reassuring. Things-in-themselves are merely illusions.85 The camera can reveal the terms of these illusions and the tensions they mask. Smithson questions the tendency to perceive reality in terms of isolated images by positioning these images within reality. He then circulates the results more imagesto reveal the tensions his superimpositions produce. The camera plays a central role in this process. The earthworks were no different; they were and, in a few cases, still are images placed in reality, which are circulated as a second set of images of this superimposition. Smithsons 1970 film, The Spiral Jetty, is the most intricate example of this endeavor and its effects.86 The Spiral Jetty opens with a brilliant image of the sun rapidly emerging from a black background, followed by a series of images of solar flares erupting from the suns surface. The sound of a respirator accompanies this sequence of images and seems to orchestrate its pulsations into a steady rhythm. The persistent ticking of a clock, the staccato clicking of a Geiger counter, the return of the ticking, now heightened by its echo inside the cavernous space of the American Museum of Natural Historys Cretaceous Hall, the more attenuated pattern of the roar of dump trucks and the crash of rocks into the Great Salt Lake interspersed at regular intervals with the subtle lapping sound of the water near the shore, and the return of the sound of the respirator near the films end reiterate this rhythm throughout most of the film, even though these sounds initially appear as so much aural static, which is at odds with the films visual imagery. In the films final sequence, as the camera slowly closes in on a large photostat of the Spiral Jetty situated above an editing table, framed both right and left by equally still editing equipment, the rhythmic patterns of the soundtrack cease. Only the muted sounds from outside the studio can be heard. By this point, the viewer, whose inner ear has been conditioned by the constant repetition of rhythmically inflected sound, is likely to evoke the clicking of the reels of the editing machine and, if the theater were relatively quiet, one might hear the clicking sound of the film pro-


jector as it unravels its loops of film, frame by frame in front of its illuminated lens. The memory of absent recorded sound and its live presence in the room, and, by analogy, the memory of footage of the Spiral Jetty in the process of being constructed and experienced on site and its still presence over the editing table, would then collide to produce a palpable awareness of the abstract framework of the film and its projection in real time. The film refers to its own physical and mechanical framework to produce a filmic version of the alienation effect. While making The Spiral Jetty, Smithson could have referred to numerous existing films that articulate their abstract framework. One important precedent was Chris Markers La Jete, which consists of filmed sequences of individual still photographs strung together as continuous footage. Smithson also reminds the viewer of the illusionistic structure of his film by including footage of a number of still images postcards of dinosaurs and diagrams and maps of the site, sometimes shot in black and white in contrast to the moving color images. Conversely, Smithsons conception of the cinematized existence of the monuments of Passaic as strips of individual still images allowed him to describe Passaic in terms of a film. But Smithsons principle aim in The Monuments of Passaic was to call attention to the difference between filmic and other frameworks such as linear perspective and ones perceptual experience of the site. Later, Smithson claims that making a film is one thing, viewing a film another.87 Films abstract termsa moving sequence of still images remain at odds with the experience of film, since, according to Eisenstein, each sequential element is perceived not next to the other, but on top of the other. For the idea (or sensation) of movement arises from the process of superimposing on the retained impression of the objects first position, a newly visible further position of the object. This is, by the way, the reason for the phenomenon of spacial depth, in the optical superimposition of two planes in stereoscopy.88 Superimposition can be used in both film and the stereoscope to produce naturalistic illusions, but this is just one possible option. Superimposition can also produce visualand auralconflict. Smithson demonstrated this by superimposing mirrored chambers over the two pictures on the stereoscope card in a plan of a simple box stereoscope (see figure 1.23). The conflict between mind and body, conditioned expectation and reality, that the Enantiomorphic Chambers generates opens up a visible gap between the physiological aspects of visionits binocular structureand the experiences they produce. Eisenstein describes the cinematic equivalent in terms of two elementsshots or frames, which are photo-fragments of nature or real events, and montage, the combination of these fragments.89 Eisenstein notes that montage and its component parts



have corollaries in other forms of representation but that they are intensified in film because the frame is much less independently workable than the word or the sound.90 In an essay entitled The Cinematographic Principle and the Ideogram, Eisenstein uses the analogy of the copulative Japanese hieroglyphtwo hieroglyphs combinedand its production of an abstract concept to describe how the combination of single depictive shotssingle in meaning, neutral in contentproduces denotation. The depictive joins forces with the denotative not through an additive process again a denial of the role of linear sequencebut through a collision of the two depictive components. The tension between them produces a concept. Montage is conflict, for Eisenstein, as the basis of every art is conflict.91 This conflict, what Eisenstein calls the principle of counterpoint, can occur within a shot or between shots, and it also can occur between acoustical and optical elements. All of these elements possess equal significatory potential, but, he notes, the degree of incongruence [between them] determines intensity of impression, and determines that tension which becomes the real element of authentic rhythm.92 Eisensteins sense of montage as conflict is certainly operative in The Spiral Jetty, even if in subtle ways. During a screening of the film, one watches bits of nature remolded into meaning through layered optical and aural analogies, which at first seem incongruous but then, through reiterations of various sorts, emerge as overarching abstract concepts. Fragments of pages torn from books, magazines, and an atlas fall and scatter across the surface of a dry mud puddle. The visual contrast between the rectangular or square bits of paper and the mud is striking since the fragments loosely resemble the irregular pieces of cracked and curling mud. The bits of atlas heighten the contrast by being roughly the same size as the pieces of mud, even though they contain representations of portions of land masses on a vastly different scale. When experienced together with the films narrationthe earths history seems at times like a story recorded in a book each page of which is torn into small pieces. Many of the pages and some of the pieces of each page are missingand the sound of a ticking clock, a sense of the dense but invisible layers of geological and historical time emerges. A pan of a map of the Great Salt Lake pauses at the printed word Lake and slowly dissolves into an image of the rippling surface of the lake to similar effect. Smithson clarifies: The movie recapitulates the scale of the Spiral Jetty. Disparate elements assume a coherence.93 A series of seven sequences of shallow pink water and foam and the low sound of water lapping is intercut with eight sequences of heavy machinery and rocks tumbling out of the back of a truck. The loud roar of this machinery and the splashes


of rocks as they hit the water, in contrast with the sound of the lapping water, produce a disturbing rhythmic interplay that corresponds with the building of the Spiral Jetty and the forces of its slow, imperceptible, but inevitable dissolution. Stills of objects covered with salt crystals are intercut once again with a moving sequence of water lapping. The sound of a hospital respirator, which underscores both of these images, inflects them with the presence of a precarious but undeniable life force. Footage of an unremarkable road shot from the back and then from the front of a moving vehicle cuts through the film five times. Usually such sequences tie a film together and move its narrative forward. Here they have no concrete narrative function or explicit endpoint, although Rozel Point, the location of the Spiral Jetty, is the implied destination. Spaceand timeare just traveled through. The road becomes an empty abstraction, a site and sight for projectionanother parody of the highway images Smithson renders pointless in his New Jersey projects. The artist explains: Unlikely places and things were stuck between sections of film that show a stretch of dirt road running to and from the actual site in Utah. A road that goes forward and backward between things and places that are elsewhere. You might even say that the road is nowhere in particular. The disjunction operating between reality and film drives one into a sense of cosmic rupture.94 The films penultimate sequence is concerned with one such rupture sunstroke. The camera gradually closes in and pulls away from the jetty from the vantage point of a helicopter above. From this aerial point of view, the jetty appears as a simple, flat, black design, a petroglyph etched into the gray surface of the lake. Sunlight reflects off the surfaces of both the jetty and the lake until competing reflections off the cameras circular glass lens begin to rotate out from the images center to its edges. Sky and earth, filmic and natural reflections intermittently collapse together, causing the jetty to momentarily disappear behind these flashes of reflected light as Smithson reads a description of the symptoms of sunstroke from Blacks Medical Dictionary. The last line of this text and of the films narrationAnd for a long period subsequently there may be a loss of memory and inability to concentrateis succeeded by an increasingly tight alignment of camera and water reflections and then a cut to the still of the jetty tacked to the wall over an editing table. All of Smithsons photographs are technically stillsimages of things arrested in time and spacebut the term still also implies artificiality or partiality, an arrested frame or staged moment excerpted from a theatrical or filmic event that otherwise is experienced in the context of other images or events. Although the specific source of the photostat of the Spiral Jetty seen at the end of The Spiral Jetty is



ambiguousa still from the film or a photograph taken independently at the siteit can be read only in terms of stillness and fragmentation in the context of the films final sequence. It appears insufficient, out of place, and points elsewhereto other images.95 The films physical and experiential framework renders it so. All of Smithsons displacements are in some sense stillsarrested, partial, and dislocated events that depend on other images and contexts for signification. Like Eisensteins montage, they are also superimpositions. The splitting and superimposition in Smithsons displacements occur simultaneouslyvoids filled, frames occupiedand conflict produces their meaning. This is why describing Smithsons activities, even his early 1960s works on paper, such as Untitled (Classical Head) (see figure 4.8), in terms of collage is misleading. Both the frame and its excised portion always remain a part of the work, even if both are not always visible at once. The frame also serves to locate the limits of and limitations to the image as part of a larger, seemingly rational systemthat vast lattice. Like Partially Buried Woodsheds cracked beam, the frame is the implicit structure through which the system collapses to produce meaning that is beyond the sum of its parts. This is also true of the Yucatan mirror displacements and their gridlike arrangements, which Smithson describes as an attempt to regulate the irrational aspects . . . where the system breaks down, or where the incapacity comes in.96 A two-page spread of stills from The Spiral Jetty (figure 4.10) accompanies Smithsons essay A Cinematic Atopia, which was published in the September 1971 issue of Artforum.97 Smithson organized the stills in this spread in the same way that he laid out color images of his Yucatan mirror displacements for reproduction in the same magazine two years earlier (see figure 3.33); the grid of the magazine, just like the framework of the film, allows here and there to be mapped onto one another. Although Smithson arranges the Yucatan images in an order based on the supposed order in which he photographed them, he provides no such order for the film stills. Their placement bears no relationship to the sequence in which they were shot or to the sequence in which they are viewed in the completed film.98 They provide another order of experience that is displaced from the making or the viewing of the film and that, although still dependent on them, is even further removed from either sight or site. Directly underneath the stills, a excerpt from Smithsons text functions as a caption: The longer we look through a camera or watch a projected image the remoter the world becomes, yet we begin to understand that remoteness more. The trick is to avoid total absorption into the correlative remoteness of the movie houseits distancing effectthereby losing the opportunity for understanding, for meaning, which the tension between it and the outside world can produce. Such absorption is the fate


of what Smithson calls the ultimate film goer who inhabits the movie house like a hermit dwelling among the elsewheres, forgoing the salvation of reality and watches film after film, until the action of each one would drown in a vast reservoir of pure perception.99 This description is reminiscent of the passive travel offered by the stereoscope that Smithson turned inside out in Enantiomorphic Chambers. In A Cinematic Atopia, Smithson reiterates his rejection of such disengaged viewingultimate movie-viewing should not be encouraged, any more than ultimate movie-making and proposes another situation, a truly underground cinema. Smithson made several drawings related to this project. One was to screen The Spiral Jetty in a room buried underneath a pyramid of rocks near the Spiral Jetty. Another, entitled Towards the Development of a Cinema Cavern (figure 4.11), consists of several sketches for a subterranean cinema that would continuously project a film of the process of the cinemas construction. At first, these projects appear to be simple parodies of underground cinemas supposedly surreptitious location, but Smithsons posited locations for his cinemascaves or abandoned minesreturn what Parker Tyler called the peephole excitement of underground film to two culturally forgotten or hidden sites to generate a more fundamentally taboo vision.100 Smithson describes only one shot from a film conceived in relation to his cinema cavern. It was based on his memory of looking back from deep inside a horizonal mine tunnel in the Britannia Copper Mines bored into the side of the mountain to a pinpoint of light visible at the other end. He intended for the shot to move slowly from the interior of the tunnel towards the entrance and end outside.101 If this tunnel were the product of an imaginative process of discovery, as Smithson claims in his conversations with Wheeler, then his film would reiterate this process in reverse through a second, analogous set of images. Such doubling, in terms of making and then viewing the film at the site, would have structurally echoed the taboo against women entering the mine that Smithson discussed with Wheeler: Its a very strong taboo. I read somewhere there is a strong feeling that, in the primitive sense, the tube is like a vagina kind of like a Freudian protectiveness.102 The emergence into the light, whether experienced as a film shot or as a physical reality, would cause a momentary blindness and perhaps a temporary memory loss, akin to sunstrokeone thinks of how The Spiral Jetty begins with the sun, a pinpoint of light rapidly emerging out of the darknesswhich cuts across reality and imagination to bring them temporarily into alignment to manifest a taboo sight/site. In art alone, says Freud, it still happens that man, consumed by his wishes, produces something similar to the gratification of those wishes, and this playing, thanks to artistic illusion, calls forth effects as



FIGURE 4.10 Robert Smithson, film stills from The Spiral Jetty, in Artforum (September 1971).

if it were something real.103 Sitting in the darkness of the cinema cavern watching a film of the making of the cinema cavern, one could easily locate and press the fragile limits of artistic illusion and of socially sanctioned desire through an outlandish parody of both. At the end of Art Through the Cameras Eye, Smithson discusses the relationship between pollution and film making in terms of the work of Alan Resnais. He notes that in Night and Fog Resnais contrasts Technicolor shots of pastoral scenes of overgrown ruins of concentration camps, with black and white archival photographs and footage of the same camps when they were first built and fully operational. Smithson points out that such comparisons suggest that each landscape, no matter how calm and lovely, conceals a substrata of disaster and concludes: Deeper than the ruins of concentration camps, are worlds more frightening, worlds more meaningless. The hells of geology remain to be discovered. If art history is a nightmare, then what is natural history?104 Night and Fog and The Spiral Jetty are both technically documentaries, but they function like horror films; they ask viewers to grasp their respective subjectsthe Holocaust and the Spiral Jettyand the history of these subjects through the imagination. Faded archival photographs and film footage or postcard images of dinosaurs or sections of maps and diagrams flicker in and out of shots of present-day conditions, in some cases ruinsthe concentration camps or dinosaur bonesin others new constructions under way or recently completedthe camps and the jetty. These extended superimpositions and the tensions between them load the respective sites of these two films with previously almost invisible significance and unimaginable horrors. Resnaiss narrator observes a piece of land that has become a wasteland. An autumn sky indifferent to everything is all we have left to imagine a night shrill with cries, busy with fleas, night of chattering teeth. The camera searches for bodies in vain, but The blood has dried. The tongues are silent. Only the camera goes the round of the blocks. To the deportee, the peaceful landscape just outside the camps was only an image. Now this image has absorbed the contradictions, overcome the boundaries: An incinerator could be made to look like a postcard. Later today, tourists have themselves photographed in them. Similarly, Smithson suggests that within the limitless scale of the Hall of Late Dinosaurs in the American Museum of Natural History, ones mind imagines things that are not there. The blood-soaked droppings of a sick Duck-Billed Dinosaur, for instance. Rotting monster flesh covered with millions of red spiders. Delusion follows delusion. The ghostly cameraman slides over the glassed-in compounds. These
FIGURE 4.11 (opposite page) Robert Smithson, Towards the Development of a Cinema Cavern, 1971.



fragments of a timeless geology laugh without mirth at the time-filled hopes of ecology.105 The horrors of the Holocaust and of geology are not reenacted; they are drawn out of ordinary ruins of things by the imagination. Meaning emerges through artificea montage of images and soundwhich, in turn, consists of fragile fragments of the real. Alan Ward describes Resnaiss project in terms of such difficult inevitabilities: Resnais contemplates the difficulties of living in time, with the past hovering over us when we want to forget and receding into the shadows when we need to remember. Time is destroying us (dj!) as it destroys empires and civilizations.106 The physical alterations Smithson and other earth artists made to their chosen sites were relatively negligible when viewed in relation to the vast scale of their contexts and what entropy would do to them over time.107 At best, they temporarily reiterate or, in the case of Partially Buried Woodshed, prefigure their sites conditions as an image reduced to a manageable scale. Smithsons design for a land reclamation project in the Bingham Copper Mining Pit (figure 4.12), scribbled in black felt-tipped pen over a color photograph of the pit published in the corporate owners annual report, consists of a simple tracing and elaboration on the form of the pit as it appears in the photograph. He simply underscores the result or look of what took place at the site and, in the process, reveals that an action or gesture, to some, a violent and destructive one, can also be a sign, similar to a Brechtian social gesture, that conveys meaning without requiring personal investment or resorting to pathetic fallacy. The pits formal similarity to a disastrous cyclone or to a spiraling descent into hell is already present. Smithsons superimpositionhis montagejust draws it out. Counter to Gussows claim that he and other spiritual caretakers celebrate and make places visible, Smithson asserts that Gussow and others like him actually hide these places behind naturalistic images and that these images function as one-sided totems that mask the dreaded taboos imbedded in nature and in its history. They and the sites they supposedly depict become clogged spaces, paintings, instead of pictures, whose hidden duality . . . has yet to be discovered.108 All legitimate art, Smithson claims, deals with limits. Fraudulent art feels that it has no limits. The trick is to locate those elusive limits. You are always running against those limits, but somehow they never show themselves.109 Smithsons commitment to locating those elusive limits was central to his artistic practice. It was also, as he further suggests, central to his artistic identitythe role he chose to play: there are the people of the middle, lawyers and engineers, the rational numbers, and there are the people of the fringe, tramps and madmen, irrational

FIGURE 4.12 Robert Smithson, drawing, in Kennecott Annual Report, 1968.

numbers. The fringe and the middle meet when somebody like Emmett Kelly sweeps light into a dustpan.110

Smithson may not have considered the image of the black child on the July 1967 cover of Life when he wrote over it. But what he wrote, Primary Structures, was a reiteration of sorts that produced a tension between an abstract covering and a real image of crisis, which he would develop in a conscious way two years later on the cover of Artforum in the form of a reiteration of the cover of Life. His routine ordering practice of sorting out and labeling magazines for his archive was a part of his working process from the beginning. The archive holds all of these things together and renders the relationships between them and their history clear. In his discussion of the synchro-diachronic system and the churingas role in it, Lvi-Strauss provides one final analogy that allows me to bring my own chain of analogies full circle. This analogy speaks to the reasons that one might be drawn to study certain things over others: When an exotic custom fascinates us in spite of (or on account of ) its apparent singularity, it is generally because it presents us with a distorted reflection of a familiar image, which we confusedly recognize as such without yet managing to identify it.111 According to Lvi-Strauss, the familiar image that the churinga presents is of documentary archives. Both are stored away in safe places and consulted with the respect given to sacred things. Both pass through the hands of successive owners and are often entrusted to foreign groups as a sign of good will. And both, as independent entities, have no intrinsic meaning; their significance depends solely, Lvi-Strauss claims, on their historical repercussions and the commentaries which explain them by relating them to other events.112 The destruction of either would have no effect on knowledge, but the loss would be felt at another, more profound level. Lvi-Strauss explains: The virtue of archives is to put us in contact with pure historicity. As I have already said about myths concerning the origin of totemic appellations, their value does not lie in the intrinsic significance of the events evoked: these can be insignificant or even entirely absent, if what is in question is a few lines of autograph or a signature out of context. But think of the value of Johann Sebastian Bachs signature to one who cannot hear a bar of his music without a quickening of his pulse. As for events themselves, I have pointed out that they are attested otherwise than by the authentic documents, and gener-


ally better. Archives thus provide something else: on the one hand they constitute events in their radical contingence (since only interpretation, which forms no part of them, can ground them in reason), and, on the other, they give a physical existence to history, for in them alone is the contradiction of a completed past and a present in which it survives, surmounted. Archives are the embodied essence of the event.113 Lvi-Strauss concludes that his analogy between archives and the churinga allows him to recover at the very centre of the savage mind, that pure history to which we were already led by totemic myths. It has also allowed me to restore history to the very center of Smithsons working practice. Smithson was an archivist, and his work remains a part of his archive. The relationship between the twothe work and the archive though not strictly parallel, consists of reflections reflecting reflections.






Linda Nochlin, Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?, ArtNews 69, no.

9 (January 1971): 25. In an endnote, Nochlin suggests that recent (meaning circa 1971) developments in artistic practice, including earthworks, conceptual art, and what she calls art as information, might render the monograph obsolete because they de-emphasize individual genius and the unique art commodity. Unfortunately, her prediction has not held up. Nochlin, Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?, 70, n. 9. 2. Most of the Smithson interviews have been published in Jack Flam, ed., Robert Smithson: The Collected Writings (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996). Extended or unedited transcripts of several of these interviews, including the ones with Paul Toner, Dennis Wheeler, and the panel discussion at the symposium for the 1969 exhibition Earth Art at Cornell University, also exist in The Robert Irving Smithson Papers, Archives of American Art, Washington, D.C. All future references to this archive are cited as Smithson Papers, AAA, followed by microfilm roll and frame numbers, if the material has been filmed. Suzaan Boettger has published an additional 1968 Smithson interview with Willoughby Sharp in Art in America 86, no. 12 (December 1998): 7580. For a useful, relatively recent interview with a contemporary, see Eugenie Tsai, Interview with Dan Graham, New York City, October 27, 1988, Robert Smithson: Zeichnungen aus dem Nachlass (Mnster: Westflisches Landesmuseum fr Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, 1989), 823. For essays written by Smithsons contemporaries, see Peter Chametzkys excellent annotated bibliography in Robert Hobbs, Robert Smithson: Sculpture (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981), 246255. 3. Rosalind Krauss, Sculpture in the Expanded Field, October 8 (Spring 1979): 3044, reprinted in Rosalind Krauss, The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985), 276290; Craig Owens, Earthwords, October 10 (Fall 1979): 120130; Owens, The Allegorical Impulse: Toward a Theory of Postmodernism, October 12 (Spring 1980): 6786; and Owens, The Allegorical Impulse: Toward a Theory of Postmodernism (Part 2), October 13 (Summer 1980): 5880. All of the Owens articles have been reprinted in Craig Owens, Beyond Recognition: Representation, Power, and Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992). 4. The bibliography in this category is too vast to do justice to here since it includes the majority of writing on postwar art. Chametzkys bibliography lists most references to 1981, and some recent publications include Frances Colpitt, Minimal Art: The Critical Perspective (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1990); Hal Foster, The Return of the Real (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996); Ann Goldstein and Anne Rorimer, Reconsidering the Object of Art: 19651975 (Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art and Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1995); Anne Hoormann, Land Art: Kunstprojekte zwischen Landschaft und ffentlichem Raum (Berlin: Dietrich Reimer Verlag, 1996); Caroline A. Jones, Machine in the Studio: Constructing the Postwar American Artist (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996); Jeffrey Kastner, ed., Land and Environmental Art (London: Phaidon Press, 1998); and Giles Tiberghien, Land Art (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1995). 5. I am not working with the archive as a strictly theoretical concept here, and addressing it as such in my text would lead me away rather than toward the heart of my argument. For


example, I did seriously consider addressing Michel Foucaults work on the archive in my preface but in the end decided that such a discussion took me too far from own focus on a particular archive with a particular set of arbitrary but none the less physical and historical limits. Although such distinctions may themselves seem arbitrary, they are necessary to my project since I hope to clear away, at least momentarily, many of the established theoretical concepts and interpretative frameworks in order to begin again. Some of my conclusions overlap with these concepts and frameworks through the specifics of Smithsons practice, and I acknowledge these overlaps in my endnotes. But more often my method renders many of these concepts and frameworks tangential or even irrelevant to a discussion of Smithsons work, if not to the decade of the 1960s in general. Therefore, to address the theoretical literature on these frameworks in the main text without regard to their historical dimension, including their dates of publication or translation into English and their contemporary critical reception, would contradict the primary intention of my bookto consider the specific visual conditions and discursive practices of the 1960s and to use them to illuminate Smithsons working practice in historically precise terms. I have also depended on two other archives in the writing of this bookthe archives of Dwan Gallery, New York, and the Photographic Archive of the Estate of Robert Smithson, James Cohan Gallery, New York. 6. Robert Hobbs provides the only exception since he was the first scholar to have access to a large portion of these materials when preparing his book and related exhibition Robert Smithson: Sculpture. His detailed catalogue entries for this volume are still the some of the most thoughtful and thorough studies of Smithsons individual projects, and they are another reason I decided that a chronological study of all of Smithsons work was not necessary. Since Nancy Holt donated Smithsons papers to the Archives of American Art, more of Smithsons unpublished writings have been published in Eugenie Tsai, Robert Smithson Unearthed (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991), and Flam, Robert Smithson: The Collected Writings. 7. During the time I have spent working on this book, these distinctions have become less clear, and increasing amounts of the archival material have entered the art market as Smithsons art proper. The most obvious example of this transformation is the category of slideworks established by Guglielmo Bargellesi-Severi, ed., in Robert Smithson Slideworks (n.p.: Frua, 1997). I have no problem with these changes in terms of hierarchy, but they tend to scatter the work into consumable and often overly glamorized bits, leaving the shape of the working field of images and texts from which these bits were drawn unacknowledged and, for scholars, increasingly difficult to reconstruct. Hobbs also notes in Robert Smithson: Sculpture, 197, that Smithson began selling photographs of his work around 1970 but that when these photographs began to be regarded as the art, he decided not to sell anymore. 8. This quality of impersonality is heightened by the fact that Holt limited the personal letters and other items to those directly related to Smithsons work or to the art world. The archive contains only a few letters Smithson wrote to her early in their relationship, and his correspondence with his parents is represented by only a small number of postcards.




Carlo Ginzburg, Clues, Myths, and the Historical Method (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Ginzburg, Clues, Myths, and the Historical Method, xii. See particularly Ginzburg, The

University Press, 1989), ix. 10. Cheese and the Worms (New York: Dorset Press, 1980), and Ginzburg, Morelli, Freud, and Sherlock Holmes: Clues and Scientific Method, History Workshop Journal 9 (Spring 1980): 536. See also Keith Luria and Romulo Gandolfo, Carlo Ginzburg: An Interview, Radical History Review 35 (1986): 89111. 11. George Kubler also uses morphology to produce an alternate history of things in his The Shape of Time: Remarks on the History of Things (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1962). This is a text Smithson knew well, as I discuss in chapter 3. 12. See, for example, Bruce Kurtz, Robert Smithson at the Whitney, Art in America This has not always been the case. Early in Smithsons career, John Perreault wrote in (April 1982): 135136. 13. A Minimal Future?, Arts Magazine 41, no. 5 (March 1967): 31: Although his works are of high caliber, Robert Smithsons writings are boyishly pretentious and distract from the validity of his actual work. Such responses reveal the historical specificity of the terms of critical evaluation; in the mid-1960s, writing was still considered by some to be a secondary and often suspect practice for artists. 14. Robert Smithson, Quasi-Infinities and the Waning of Space, Arts Magazine 41, no. 1 (November 1966): 2831, reprinted in Nancy Holt, ed., The Writings of Robert Smithson (New York: New York University Press, 1979), 3235, and in Flam, Robert Smithson, 3437, is the only published example of how this method worked. 15. Craig Owens, Photography en abyme, October 5 (Summer 1978): 7388, reprinted Owens doesnt really need archival evidence when Smithsons writings and the conin Owens, Beyond Recognition, 1630. 16. tents of his library alone suffice to demonstrate his awareness of structuralist theory. Gary Shapiro makes convincing connections between Smithsons work and structuralist and poststructuralist theory by depending solely on these two sources in his Earthwards: Robert Smithson and Art after Babel (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995). Valentin Tatranskys catalogue of Smithsons books, magazines, and records was easily available by the early 1980s at John Weber Gallery. 17. The same is true of a number of other claims Owens makes for Smithsons work. For example, I too argue that language, photography, and ultimately cinema are at the heart of Smithsons practice, but I do so to be more specific about that practice and its specific social and historical dimensions rather than to present it as equivalent to an ahistorical series of theoretical strategies. 18. The transcripts of these interviews have been edited by Eva Schmidt and published as Four Conversations between Dennis Wheeler and Robert Smithson, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 196233.



Others have recently discussed the centrality of Smithsons Enantiomorphic Chambers

in terms of a Lacanian analysis. See Timothy Martin, De-architecturisation and The Architectural Unconscious: A Tour of Robert Smithsons Chambers and Hotels, de-, dis-, ex. 2 (1998): 89114, and Martin, Enantiomorphic Chambers, Robert Smithson Retrospective Works 19551973 (Oslo: National Museum of Contemporary Art, 1999), 6077. Such a reading had historical currency. For example, in his preface to the anthology




Urban Riots: Violence and Social Change, Proceedings of the Academy of Political Science 29, no. 1 (1968): iv, Robert H. Connery states that the recent urban riots signal widespread discontent with social and economic structure on the part of minority groups. 2. Similarly, because of their formal simplicity and the assumption that they were inherently ambiguous or lacked independent content, two-dimensional reproductions of many abstract paintings and sculpture appeared as background designs for books and exhibition catalogues or became logos for exhibition announcements and magazine advertisements during the 1960s. In some instances, these images were simplified or slightly altered in the reproductive process, but the link between original and reproduction remained visible even as the artworks image receded into a secondary position behind titles or text. One can track the use of some of the same images in a number of different contexts for a variety of different, sometimes even contradictory purposes. 3. In 1970, Smithson explicitly addressed the cruel ordering practices of mass-media magazines in a fragment of an essay entitled Look, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frame 651, by analyzing the contents of one issue of Look for 28 July 1970. He begins by describing the magazine as part of the media morgue where the unseen hurricane of carnage finds its way. 4. Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), and Henri Lefebvre, Everyday Life in the Modern World (New Brunswick: Transaction Books, 1984). Lefebvre uses the term re-productive to indicate the active rather than passive sense in which he understands societys wider productive and consumptive activity. This sense, he notes, requires a fundamental change in ones understanding of a previously reflective relationship between the economic base and its superstructure (3032). 5. 6. De Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, 21. Smithson, letter to Nancy Holt, Fall 1959, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3832, frames

742743. For a history of the rise of the downtown art scene and art market, see Charles R. Simpson, Soho: The Artist in the City (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981). Smithson and Holt purchased their loft on Greenwich Avenue in 1965. 7. For example, the party Smithson mentions in his letter to Holt was for the opening The politics of this period often took on a site-specific quality as the names of cities, of his first one-person show of paintings at Artists Gallery, New York. 8. small towns, and other previously unnewsworthy locations such as Selma, Newark, Watts, Kent State, and My Lai, increasingly appeared in the media headlines and thus became synonymous with major political movements and events.




University-educated was an adjective commonly used by critics to distinguish

young artists in the 1960s from the previous generation, and the term, in part, referred to a quality of access to high culture. This class-inflected phrase and others like it emerged out of debates from the previous two decades concerning hierarchies of culture and the mass circulation of high cultural artifacts as reproductions in magazines, as subjects of articles in popular journals, and as texts for classroom study. Critics used the term middlebrow to describe this watered-down, middle term of cultural experience as well as the work made specifically for these cultural contexts. See, for example, Russell Lynes, The Tastemakers (New York: Harper, 1953); Vance Packard, The Status Seekers (New York: McKay, 1959); and Bernard Rosenberg and David Manning White, eds., Mass Culture: The Popular Arts in America (Glencoe, IL: Free Press, 1957). 10. Lawrence Alloway, for example, described the situation as the fine artpop art continuum in his Network: The Art World Described as a System, Artforum 11, no. 1 (September 1972): 2832. 11. Smithson cites this example in Incidents of MirrorTravel in the Yucatan, Artforum 8, no. 1 (September 1969): 33, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 102, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 131. 12. Smithson never drove because he never learned how to drive. Nancy Holt, interview Paul Cummings, Interview with Robert Smithson for the Archives of American with author, 19 November 1991. 13. Art/Smithsonian Institution, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 142143, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 278279. 14. Robert Pincus-Witten described the situation this way in a review of Smithsons 1969 one-person exhibition at Dwan Gallery, New York: to record an event appears to grow more important than to create an event, or, more exactly, that creation and recording are, at very least, virtually congruent activities. Such a development, he claims, is reflected in the revival of certain sentimental practices such as the collecting of snapshots, picture postcards, theater programs and, less frequently, the keeping of journals. New York, Artforum 7, no. 8 (April 1969): 70. 15. Cummings, Interview with Robert Smithson, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 143, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 280. For a survey of the visual culture produced by this generation, see Lisa Phillips, Beat Culture and the New America, 19501965 (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1995). 16. The contemporary literature that addresses this phenomena is vast. Some of the classic studies include Donald Appleyard, Kevin Lynch, and John R. Myer, The View from the Road (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1964); Peter Blake, Gods Own Junkyard (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964); Daniel J. Boorstin, The Image (or What Happened to the American Dream) (New York: Atheneum, 1962); Dean MacCannell, The Tourist: A New Theory of the Leisure Class (New York: Schocken Books, 1976); Marshall McLuhan, The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of the Industrial Man (Boston: Beacon Press, 1951); and Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven


Izenour, Learning from Las Vegas: The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1972). 17. Jonas Mekas, Where Are WeThe Underground?, in Gregory Battcock, ed., The New American Cinema (New York: Dutton, 1967), 20. Film Culture, founded and published by Jonas Mekas, was the major journal devoted to underground film. 18. Smithsons datebooks reflect his active schedule of going to movies with others. He records titles, times, the people he went with, and sometimes the venues. See Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3832, frames 487618. This archive also contains numerous articles and a few books that reported on or contributed to the popularization of film culture, biker culture, and the New York art world. Some of these include Fred McDarrah, The Artists World in Pictures (New York: Dutton, 1961); Brian ODoherty, Vanity Fair: The New York Art Scene, Newsweek (4 January 1965): 5459, and Charlotte Curtis, Art Gallery Hoppers Extend East Side Rush Into the Night, The New York Times, 27 April 1966, 52, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3836, frames 224233; Underground Movies: How Theyre Made, Show (1964), and Mark Eden, Americas Frightening New Cycle and Sex Clubs, Men (July 1963), 1214, 44, Smithson Papers, AAA, unfilmed. For a contemporary analysis of the circulation of these cultures and their movies in the mainstream press, see Parker Tyler, Underground Film: A Critical History (New York: Grove Press, 1969). 19. These sanctioned sites, images, and media were not limited to those identified with modernism. Therefore, to view Smithson or many of his contemporaries strictly as opponents of modernism or as arbiters of postmodernism limits ones understanding of the ambition and achievements of these artists. For example, Shapiros principle aims in Earthwards are to contextualize Smithsons work within its philosophical legacy from Heidegger to Derrida and to discuss his achievement in terms of postmodernism. His analysis of a number of Smithsons key concepts such as framing, the relationship between time and space, text and image, and pre- and posthistory, are subtle and original. But because of his stated dismissal of an art historical emphasis and, more significantly, along with it any reference to history at all, he is not able to contextualize and thus appreciate the visual legacy of Smithsons work. Smithson becomes an autochthonous being (Shapiros term) severed from postwar U.S. history. 20. William Carlos Williams, Life Along the Passaic River, The Farmers Daughters: The Collected Stories of William Carlos Williams (1932), reprinted (New York: New Directions, 1961), 109. 21. Williams frequently uses this phrase in essays and in his poetry. One example appears in Book One of his long poem Paterson (New York: New Directions, 1963), 6. In an interview with Dennis Wheeler, Smithson paraphrases Williamss famous dictum, the idea is in the thing, and Wheeler responds by correcting him: There are no ideas but in things. Robert Smithson, interview with Dennis Wheeler, 31 December 1969, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, frame 1155. Eva Schmidts edited version of the transcript of this series of four interviews, Four Conversations between Dennis Wheeler and Robert Smithson, in Flam, Robert Smithson, does not



contain this section of the original transcript. All subsequent citations refer to the original transcripts of these interviews in Smithsons Papers, AAA, followed by their dates and include the corresponding pages in Flam, if appropriate. 22. 138, 146. 23. Cummings, Interview with Robert Smithson, in Holt, The Writings of Robert SmithRobert Smithson, as quoted in Gianni Pettena, Conversation in Salt Lake City, son, 148, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 285. 24. Domus 516 (November 1972): 55, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 187, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 298. 25. Holt, interview with author, 19 November 1991. Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, frames 13301345. The contents of most of this I use the term conceptual here independently of any associations with conceptual William Carlos Williams, The Autobiography (New York: Random House, 1951),


Chapter One


notebook have been filmed. 2. art, which Smithson believed was extremely limited, anti-visual, and therefore not about art in any interesting sense. This statement by Smithson is typical: That tends to get into the same kind of trap that Conceptual [Art] would get in. Too cerebral. The cerebral isnt touching rock bottom; its just a sort of pure essence that is up here some where. So its going back into a kind of philosophic, pseudo-philosophical situation. Im really not interested in philosophy. Im interested completely in art. Interview with Wheeler, 15 December 1969, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, frame 1126, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 209. 3. The first major exhibition devoted exclusively to Smithsons drawings was Robert Smithson: Drawings, New York Cultural Center, 1974, and the most recent was Robert Smithson: Zeichnungen aus dem Nachlass, 1989. 4. Virginia Dwan, interview with author, 29 June 1989. These photographs are now scattered among a number of different archives. See Smithson Papers, AAA; The Robert Smithson Estate, James Cohan Gallery, New York; and Archives of Dwan Gallery, New York. 5. Alberto Velasco, in his essay Robert Smithson: une critique en actes de la photographie, Histoire de lart 13/14 (1991): 7789, also argues that Smithsons photographic practice was consistently more than documentary and that many of his photographs function as critiques of documentary practice. 6. The pervasiveness of this practice can be easily verified by scanning the photographic images of sculpture in contemporary magazines and exhibition catalogues. For a contemporary discussion of how to create such images and their aesthetic benefits, see Robert E. Mates, Photographing Sculpture and Museum Exhibits, Curator 10, no. 2 (1967): 95126. Some contemporary artists and magazine editors did counter these practices by publishing multiple views of individual works. See, for example, Artforum 3, no. 8 (May 1965): 3638.



For a contemporary assessment of this experimentation, see Lucy Lippard, Per-

verse Perspectives, Art International 11, no. 3 (March 1967): 2833, 44. Many of the artists who exhibited together as the Park Place Group were hard-edge painters or had previously made shaped canvas paintings dealing with perspectival issues before working in three dimensions. Smithson did not draw major distinctions between the so-called minimalists and the Park Place artists at this point since both he and other artists simultaneously exhibited with both groups during the mid-1960s. In fact, Smithson discusses both groups together in Entropy and the New Monuments, Artforum 4, no. 10 (June 1966): 2631, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 918, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 1023. For a contemporary summary of the aims of the Park Place artists, see David Bourdon, Emc Go-Go, Art News 64, no. 9 (January 1966): 2225, 5759. 8. 9. Lippard, Perverse Perspectives, 30. Hobbs, Robert Smithson: Sculpture, 6670, provides a detailed description of how

Smithson created a contrapuntal mathematical system for each of the Alogons whereby a linear equation ordered the design of the individual units and a quadratic equation ordered their manifestation as a group. Although I am interested in addressing the visual experience of the works rather than the specifics of their design, all of the mathematical aspects contribute to this experience. 10. There are several examples of this type of sketch in the Smithson Papers, AAA; see roll 3834, frame 48, and roll 3835, frame 172. The first relates to Smithsons second one-person exhibition at Dwan Gallery, New York, 2 to 27 March 1968. The second possibly relates to his first one-person exhibition at Dwan, 29 November 1966 to 5 January 1967. 11. Until recently, critics and art historians have grouped all of Smithsons early sculpture together under the category of minimalism. This is the result of several factors. Early on, this work was separated into different categories due to the way it was exhibited. The multiple-unit works were usually chosen for major surveys of contemporary sculpture or exhibitions based on shared formal criteria such as Primary Structures, Jewish Museum, New York, 1966, or American Sculpture of the Sixties, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1967. Because of the visibility of the multipleunit work in these major venues, influential critics such as Michael Fried and Clement Greenberg, when they mentioned Smithson, referred to this work, and they usually discussed it in terms of minimalism. Some critics, however, were wary of such easy categorizations of Smithsons socalled minimal work and minimalism in general and called for criteria based on differences between the works or on nonformally based terminology. See, for example, Annette Michelson, 10 x 10: concrete reasonableness, Artforum 5, no. 5 (January 1967): 3031, and Barbara Reise, Untitled 1969: a footnote on art and minimal-stylehood, Studio International 177, no. 910 (April 1969): 166172. Enantiomorphic Chambers and Smithsons other early mirror works were rarely exhibited during his lifetime, and when they were, they were included in small, less publicized, conceptually-based exhibitions such as Art in Process, held at Finch College, New York, in



1966. As a result, these works were generally grouped together with Smithsons other early wall reliefs in mixed media. Hobbs, the first art historian to attempt a comprehensive analysis and catalogue of Smithsons sculpture, subsumed the latter category under the former, calling both the multipleunit work and the mirror work Quasi-Minimalist in his Robert Smithson: Sculpture, 11. Although Hobbs strives to define this grouping as conceptually cohesive, his retention of broadly defined formal criteria and terminology serves only to obfuscate the fundamental conceptual issues at stake in both the multiple-unit and mirror works and the later infra perspectives of 1967 and 1968. This practice of subsuming Smithsons early sculpture under the general category of minimalism continues in recent literature, and stylistic or general categorical issues dominate the critical evaluation of Smithsons 1963 through 1967 sculpture in general. Such practices assume, often unwittingly, that formal similarities indicate conceptual and experiential similarities and allow the category of minimalism to hold works and artists together on the basis of thin analogies. One notable exception to this approach is Marianne Brouwers essay To be Saved is Pass: Robert Smithson et lentropie du modernisme, Robert Smithson: Le paysage entropique 19601973 (Marseille: Muses de Marseille, Runion des muses nationaux, 1993), 4856. For a discussion of this problem in relation to 1960s exhibition practices, see my Resemblance and Desire, Center: A Journal for Architecture in America 9 (1995): 90107. 12. Robert Morris, Notes on Sculpture, Artforum 4, no. 6 (February 1966): 44, reprinted in Gregory Battcock, ed., Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology (New York: Dutton, 1968), 228, and in Morris, Continuous Project Altered Daily: The Writings of Robert Morris (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1993), 8. 13. Smithson revealed the presence of these three hidden constants in a statement published in the pamphlet he designed to accompany his first one-person exhibition at Dwan Gallery in New York. Archives of Dwan Gallery, New York. Smithson uses invisible aspects of other contemporary works such as Cryosphere to draw distinctions between what is seen and what is known or can be imagined. For a discussion of this work, see my Robert Smithsons Time Frames, Tempus Fugit (Kansas City: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 2000), 172183. 14. This is an important distinction that so many interpreters of Morriss minimal works fail to make when, in their desire to make explicit links between this work and Morriss performance pieces, they claim that the spectators movement around the units is essential to the experience of this work. See, for example, Maurice Berger, Labyrinths: Robert Morris, Minimalism, and the 1960s (New York: Harper & Row, 1989), 5455. 15. Robert Morris, Notes on Sculpture, Part II, Artforum 5, no. 2 (October 1966): 21; Hobbs, Robert Smithson: Sculpture, 74, notes that Plunge was exhibited parallel to AloBattcock, Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology, 234; Morris, Continuous Project Altered Daily, 16. 16. gon #2 and that the two works were positioned in reversed ascending and descending order. His reading of the perceptual results of this pairinga shuttling back and forth between illusionistic and realistic gallery spaceparallels my own reading of the perceptual experience of both.



Smithson, Entropy and the New Monuments, 26, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithsons source for this particular alternating perspective figure may have been M. D. Vernon, The Psychology of Perception (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1962). I also

Smithson, 9, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 11. 18. Matila Ghyka, The Geometry of Art and Life (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1946), 80. 19. choose to discuss this particular text because Smithsons copy is heavily marked, several illustrations served as sources for specific drawings, and it is clear from Smithsons writings that he based many of his statements concerning habits of vision and his examples on portions of this text and its accompanying illustrations. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. Vernon, The Psychology of Perception, 175. Vernon, The Psychology of Perception, 175177. Vernon, The Psychology of Perception, 127. Vernon, The Psychology of Perception, 176. Vernon, The Psychology of Perception, 127. Vernon, The Psychology of Perception, 175. E. H. Gombrich, Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation, Gombrich, Art and Illusion, 281284. In his 1959 preface to this volume, Gombrich

Bollingen Series, no. 35 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1960), 284. 27. cites Vernons earlier text, A Further Study of Visual Perception (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1952), among several other contemporary works on psychology and the psychology of perception, as central to the development of his arguments in Art and Illusion. 28. 29. 30. 31. Gombrich, Art and Illusion, 284. Gombrich, Art and Illusion, 281. Gombrich, Art and Illusion, 286. E. H. Gombrich, The Vogue of Abstract Art, Meditations on a Hobby Horse and Other Gombrich, Art and Illusion, 287. See, for example, Richard Arnheim, Art Bulletin 44 (1962): 7579. Others have con-

Essays on the Theory of Art (London: Phaidon Press, 1963), 149. 32. 33.

sidered Gombrichs opinions on abstract art to be peripheral to his major arguments in Art and Illusion and other texts. See Carlo Ginzburg, From Aby Warburg to E. H. Gombrich: A Problem of Method, Clues, Myth, and the Historical Method, 1759. 34. Clement Greenberg, Abstract, Representational, and so forth, Art and Culture Greenberg, Abstract, Representational, and so forth, 137. Clement Greenberg, The Situation at the Moment, Partisan Review (January 1948): (Boston: Beacon Press, 1961), 136 (emphasis mine). 35. 36.

8384, reprinted in John OBrian, Clement Greenberg: The Collected Essays and Criticism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986), 2: 195. 37. Clement Greenberg, Avant-Garde and Kitsch, Partisan Review (Fall 1939): 43, in OBrian, Clement Greenberg, 1: 16.



38. 39. 40.

Greenberg, Avant-Garde and Kitsch, 44, in OBrian, Clement Greenberg, 1: 16. Greenberg, Avant-Garde and Kitsch, 44, in OBrian, Clement Greenberg, 1: 16. Clement Greenberg, Towards a Newer Laocoon, Partisan Review (Fall 1940):

296310, in OBrian, Clement Greenberg, 1: 2338, is probably the best known of these essays, but others include Avant-Garde and Kitsch, 3449, in OBrian, 1: 522; Art Chronicle: On Paul Klee (18701940), Partisan Review (May-June 1941): 224229, in OBrian, 1: 6573; Abstract Art, The Nation (15 April 1944): 450451, in OBrian, 1: 199204; Surrealist Painting, The Nation (12 & 19 August 1944): 192193, 219220, in OBrian, 1: 225231; Frontiers of Criticism, Partisan Review (Spring 1946): 251255, in OBrian, 2: 6872; Henri Rousseau and Modern Art, The Nation (27 July 1946): 109, in OBrian, 2: 9395; The Present Prospects of American Painting and Sculpture, Horizon (October 1947): 2030, in OBrian, 2: 160170; and The Role of Nature in Modern Painting, Partisan Review (January 1949): 7881, in OBrian, 2: 271275. 41. For Greenbergs most comprehensive discussion of this point, see Our Period Greenberg, The Present Prospects of American Painting and Sculpture, 30, in Clement Greenberg, Jean Dubuffet and Art Brut, Partisan Review (March 1949): Fifteen of the thirty-seven essays Greenberg chose to include in Art and Culture Style, Partisan Review (November 1949): 11351139, in OBrian, Clement Greenberg, 2: 322326. 42. OBrian, Clement Greenberg, 2: 170. 43. 297, in OBrian, Clement Greenberg, 2: 291. 44. date from the first ten years of his activity as a critic. He revised all but one of the fifteen essays, Avant-Garde and Kitsch, after their original publication, and the majority of the revised texts are substantially different from their original versions. Unless otherwise noted, all the following arguments and citations are based on the Art and Culture versions of the essays discussed. The choice of which Greenberg texts to discuss has been critical to all the attempts to analyze his thought and influence. Few have been historically precise as to their reasons for particular choices and thus have often either presented a caricatured Greenberg as the straw man to knock down in their arguments or have scrambled together different, historically specific arguments to present a particular kind of cohesiveness. Both methods are at odds with the complex and various positions Greenberg assumes in his writings. Thomas Crow has made particular mention of the caricatured Greenberg in the literature on postmodernism. See his Modernism and Mass Culture in the Visual Arts, in Benjamin Buchloh, Serge Guibaut, and David Solkin, eds., Modernism and Modernity, Nova Scotia Series, no. 14 (Halifax: Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, 1983), 257. See also my Reassessing the Greenberg Myth, Critical Texts 5, no. 3 (1988): 4144. 45. 46. 47. Clement Greenberg, The New Sculpture, Art and Culture, 143. Greenberg, The New Sculpture, 144. Clement Greenberg, Collage, Art and Culture, 71.


48. 49.

Greenberg, The New Sculpture, 144. In another essay, Modernist Sculpture, Its Pictorial Past, Art and Culture, 159,

Greenberg goes so far as to claim that painters made little models of clay and plaster not only in order to paint directly from, but also to solve problems of compositionit still being easier to visualize deep space, and volumes in deep space, through sculptural reproduction than through direct observation (emphasis mine). 50. 51. 52. Greenberg, Modernist Sculpture, Its Pictorial Past, 162163. Greenberg, Collage, 78; The New Sculpture, 140. The Museum of Modern Art popularized this pedagogical device in numerous ex-

hibitions, publicity materials, and education programs. As early as the 1936 exhibition Cubism and Abstract Art, Alfred Barr hoped to reconcile the public to abstraction by drawing formal parallels between the look of familiar and accepted works by artists such Poussin and Czanne and the look of Picassos early cubist paintings or between monuments of ancient and modern sculpture. For a in-depth analysis of the history of MoMAs exhibition installations, see Mary Anne Staniszewski, The Power of Display: A History of Exhibition Installations at the Museum of Modern Art (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1998). For a discussion of the impact of MoMAs pedagogical strategies on the presentation and interpretation of 1960s sculpture, see my Resemblance and Desire. 53. 54. 55. Greenberg, Collage, 76. Greenberg, Collage, 76. Barbara Roses remarks in Art Criticism in the Sixties (Waltham, MA: Poses Institute of

Fine Arts, 1967) are typical. This volume documents a symposium held at the Poses Institute of Fine Arts, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, 6 May 1967. Other participants included Michael Fried, Max Kozloff, and Sidney Tillim; William Seitz served as moderator. For a more recent discussion of this issue, see Benjamin Buchloh, Construire (lhistoire de) la sculpture, Quest-ce que la sculpture moderne? (Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou, 1986), 254274. 56. 57. Greenberg, The New Sculpture, 144. Michael Baxandall, Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy (London: Oxford In 1967, Allan Kaprow also drew an analogy between the museum and the mau-

University Press, 1972), 3. 58. soleum, but in terms of their shared veneration of art and individuals from the past. See his comments in Allan Kaprow and Robert Smithson, What Is a Museum?, Arts Yearbook 9 (1967): 94, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 59, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 43. 59. Robert Smithson, Some Void Thoughts on Museums, Arts 41, no. 4 (February 1967): 41, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 58, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 4142. This essay was originally accompanied by an essay by Allan Kaprow entitled Where Art Thou, Sweet Muse? (Im Hung Up At the Whitney), and both appeared under the general title Death in the Museum. As the book designer for Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, Sol LeWitt used Smith-



sons drawing The Museum of the Void as an illustration for this article, but it did not appear in the original publication. 60. Smithson, Some Void Thoughts on Museums, 41, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 58, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 42. Smithson deleted the final, bracketed line from the galleys before publication. See the draft and galleys of this manuscript, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frames 871873. 61. Smithson, Some Void Thoughts on Museums, 41, in Holt, The Writings of Robert William Seitz, The Responsive Eye (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1965), 3. George Rickey, Scandale de Succs, Art International 9, no. 4 (May 1965): 16. In an article published in 1964, Brian ODoherty openly expresses the hope that Seitzs Smithson, 58, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 42. 62. 63. 64.

exhibition would finally categorize what everyone who isnt physically blind realizes is the new abstraction. Brian ODoherty, Art: The Classic Spirit, The New York Times, 4 February 1964, 66. 65. Clement Greenberg, Post Painterly Abstraction (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1964), and Ben Heller, Towards a New Abstraction (New York: Jewish Museum, 1963). Seitz also drew inspiration from Michael Fried, Three American Painters (Cambridge, MA: Fogg Museum, 1964), and Barbara Rose, The Primacy of Color, Art International 8, no. 4 (May 1964): 2226. 66. 67. Seitz, The Responsive Eye, 12. This borrowing may be Seitzs way of making his otherwise generic term for the color-

image category formally more specific. Yet Seitz includes Greenbergs recent critical evaluation of the art world under the color image and then identifies the approach of Greenbergs post painterly artists as oppositional to that of Albers and Vasarely, whom Seitz calls the best known initiators of perceptual abstraction. In doing so, Seitz appears to set Greenbergs position apart from optical painting, his third and most purely retinal category, but later in his essay he includes two of Greenbergs post painterly artistsEllsworth Kelly and Alexander Libermanin this third category. Seitz, The Responsive Eye, 1819. Out of the nine artists whom Heller includes in Towards a New Abstraction, five appear in The Responsive EyePaul Brach, Ellsworth Kelly, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, and Frank Stella. 68. 69. 70. 71. 72. Seitz, The Responsive Eye, 12. Clement Greenberg, Modernist Painting, Arts Yearbook 4 (1961): 100108. Heller, Towards a New Abstraction, 8. Seitz, The Responsive Eye, 8. Pigments combine by a subtractive process, for example, by absorbing wavelengths,

and artists generally choose blue, red, and yellow as their primaries. Other artists experimented in the 1960s with color changes to the composition of Green Blue Red to demonstrate the range of possible optical effects. See, for example, Rene Parola, Optical Art: Theory and Practice (New York: Reinhold, 1969), 123, 130.


73. 74.

Rosalind Krauss, Afterthoughts on Op, Art International 9, no. 5 (June 1965): 76. Lucy Lippard states in Perverse Perspectives that these are Alberss weakest works,

and she notes that his work with color far surpasses such illustrative researches and it is in that area that he has contributed most to current trends (28). For Alberss attitude on perceptual art, see his Op Art and/or Perceptual Effects, Yale Scientific Magazine 40, no. 2 (November 1965): 813. 75. 76. Seitz, The Responsive Eye, 30. Seitz, The Responsive Eye, 30. Gombrich also links the optical effects of cubism,

Roman mosaics, and Bauhaus-influenced graphic design to each other through the alternating perspective figure in Art and Illusion, 284. 77. 78. Seitz, The Responsive Eye, 4243. See, for example, Krauss, Afterthoughts on Op ; Lippard, Perverse Perspectives;

Rickey, Scandale de Succs; and Barbara Rose, Beyond Vertigo: Optical Art at the Modern, Artforum 3, no. 7 (April 1965): 3033. 79. 80. 81. 82. Rose, Beyond Vertigo, 3031, 33. Seitz, The Responsive Eye, 41. Seitz, as quoted in Op Art: Pictures That Attack the Eye, Time (23 October 1964): 78. Seitz, The Responsive Eye, 8. Seitzs moralizing tone is similar to Roses earlier dis-

cussion of the work of many of the same artists: Part of the content of the new art is, if one may use such terms any longer, moral. Taking an absolute position in the face of contemporary relativism strikes one at first as an aggressive pose. Order, logic, coherence, system, repetition, internal necessity, and perhaps what one might term a Calvinistic sense of conceptual pre-destination are common to the new abstract painting. For me, they represent not only possibilities for new visual experiences, but the reassertion perhaps of a sense of values in a universe of chance. Rose, The Primacy of Color, 26. 83. Seitz, The Responsive Eye, 8. Many of Seitzs contemporaries made a similar distinction, although they referred to particular formal elements as ends and not generators of perceptual effects. For example, Seitz uses similar reasons for specifically disassociating the predominately geometric forms and compositions of the color imagists from earlier geometric abstraction that Greenberg gives for post painterly abstraction in his catalogue essay. Seitz states: In contrast to painters of the de Stijl or Constructivist traditions or to Albers and Vasarely the color imagists are poetic, even romantic in approach. They are anti-programmatic; their colors are chosen freely and subjectively with at most a passing thought to scientific or theoretical principles. The bold color images arrest the eye immediately, like billboards, but retain interest because of their beauty, live interaction of color, sensations of advancement or recession, lateral movement, spatial radiation, and subtleties of formal adjustment not at first apparent (13). Greenberg makes these corresponding points in Post Painterly Abstraction: This is perhaps the most important motive behind the geometrical regularity of drawing in most of the pictures in this show. It certainly has nothing to do with doctrine, with geometrical form for its own sake. These



artists prefer trued and faired edges simply because they call less attention to themselves as drawingand by doing that they also get out of the way of color (n.p.). 84. 85. Seitz, The Responsive Eye, 9. Seitz, The Responsive Eye, 31. Seitz states that the eye in his exhibitions title does

not refer to the retinal orb alone, and this is why he shuns the term op art (5), although the term became synonymous with his thesis in the minds of most of the individuals who wrote about The Responsive Eye exhibition. According to George Rickey, the term was coined a year earlier in October 1964 by Time. Rickey, Scandale de Succs, 22. 86. 87. 88. 89. Seitz, The Responsive Eye, 43. Seitz, The Responsive Eye, 43. Seitz, The Art of Assemblage (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1961). See, for example, John Coplans, Pop Art, USA, Artforum 2, no. 4 (October 1963):

2730, and Sidney Tillim, Further Observations on the Pop Phenomena, Artforum 4, no. 3 (November 1965): 1719. For a contemporary discussion of the issue of transformation, see the exchange between Erle Loran and Michael Kirby over Roy Lichtensteins use of Lorans diagrams of Czannes compositions in Erle Loran, Czanne and Lichtenstein: Problems of Transformation, Artforum 2, no. 3 (September 1963): 3135, and Letters, Artforum, 2, no. 5 (November 1963): 2, 60. David Deitcher has carefully analyzed this particular set of images and their transformation in his The Handmade Readymade, in Paul Taylor, ed., Post-Pop Art (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1989), 139157. Popular assessments made few distinctions between pop and op. See Erle Yahn, You Can Be A Pop-Op Artist! (Norwalk, CT: Silvermine Publishers, 1966). 90. One of the Responsive Eye artists, Gerald Oster, included suggestions for where and how to spot moir magic in the city and at home at his one-person exhibition at Howard Wise Gallery. Press Release, February 1965, Clippings Files, Museum of Modern Art, New York. 91. Seitz, quoted in Bruce Glaser, The Changing Role of the Modern Museum: A DisSeveral critics of The Responsive Eye point out the art institutions responsibility and Alloway, quoted in Glaser, The Changing Role of the Modern Museum, 14. Smithson gave High Sierra to the artist Edward Avedisian in the mid-1960s, and it cussion with Lawrence Alloway and William Seitz, Arts Yearbook 9 (1967): 15. 92. its considerable failure here. See, for example, Rose, Beyond Vertigo, 33. 93. 94.

resurfaced in a retrospective exhibition of early 1960s paintings by many of the artists included in The Responsive Eye, called Before The FieldPaintings From the Sixties, Daniel Newburg Gallery, 16 December 198920 January 1990. 95. This painting, purchased at auction in the late 1970s and privately owned, is the only other extant painting from this period that I am aware of, although Holt recalls that originally there were quite a few. Holt, interview with author, 19 November 1991. There are also several related drawings or studies for the paintings in Robert Smithsons Estate, James Cohan Gallery, New York.



None of the works Seitz selected for The Responsive Eye possesses a title remotely Robert Smithson, letter to Nancy Holt, Monday, the 24th, no month or year, SmithThese issues could also be debated, since the relationship between Smithsons life-

suggestive of popular culture; most are simple formal descriptions. 97. son Papers, AAA, roll 3832, frame 744. 98. long engagement with Catholicism and his post-painting work has yet to be seriously considered; this type of investigation falls outside the perimeters of my study. 99. 100. Smithson, letter to Holt, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3832, frame 745. Robert Smithson, The Iconography of Desolation, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 323.

This text probably dates from 1962, the same year as Smithsons letter to Holt, since the imagery and themes are similar. 101. frame 811. 102. Holt also noted that Smithson had some contact with the scientist and artist Gerald Oster during this period (c. 1965) through Ruth Vollmer. Holt recalled that they enjoyed talking with each other but that their discussions had little to do with Osters art. Holt, interview with author, 19 November 1991. Smithsons archives also contain copy of a typed essay by Gerald Oster entitled Whats Op? that is signed For Bob Smithson from Jerry O. Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frames 13831391. 103. Edward Avedisian, interview with author, November 1991, and Holt, interview with author, 19 November 1991. In stating that Smithsons work did not have an individuality that other artists on our list have expressed, Seitz might have been speaking of criteria that would alter quite a bit by 1965. 104. 105. Seitz, quoted in Glaser, The Changing Role of the Modern Museum, 14. In an interview with the author on 19 November 1991, Holt suggested that Smithson William Seitz, letter to Robert Smithson, 1 July 1964, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3832,

was investigating certain things about color-field painting with the lightning-bolt paintings. Other ramifications of the lightning-bolt image are discussed in chapter 4. 106. Smithson probably derived the double-mirror design for The Eliminator from an illustration in Martin Gardners The Ambidextrous Universe (New York: Basic Books, 1964), 45. Gardner offers this and several other designs as examples of mirror configurations that do not reverse images. These non-mirror images are bewildering since they are contrary to expectation. Gardners illustrations were also sources for Smithsons 1968 and 1969 mirrored corner pieces. Gardners The Ambidextrous Universe was consistently an important text for Smithson during this period, and in his 1969 and 1970 interviews with Wheeler he refers to it frequently. See Dennis Wheeler, Exegesis of Tape Done Dec. 23, 1969, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, frame 764. By working with neon tubing, Smithson was also participating in a trend called neon art that was as widely exhibited and publicized as perceptual art, albeit in somewhat smaller exhibition venues. Some of these exhibitions were Current Art, University of Pennsylvania Institute



of Contemporary Art, 1965; Licht und Bewegung, Dsseldorf Kunsthalle, 1966; and Focus on Light, New Jersey State Museum Cultural Center, 1967. The organizers of Focus on Light used the same organizing principle that Seitz had originally intended for The Responsive Eye; they provided a survey of the role of light in modern painting from Turner and impressionism to the present. The Eliminator was included in several of these exhibitions, and Life published a color photograph of it in a 21 May 1965 article on neon art and related contemporary exhibitions. 107. Robert Smithson, The Eliminator, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 207, and Seitz, The Responsive Eye, 41. Cummings, Interview with Robert Smithson, in Holt, The Writings of Robert SmithRobert Smithson, Paragraph from a Fictive Artists Journal, in Interpolation of the Flam, Robert Smithson, 327. 108. 109.

son, 146, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 283. 110. Enantiomorphic Chambers, Art in Process (New York: Finch College, 1966), n.p., in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 3940, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 40. 111. Robert Smithson, draft of Interpolation of the Enantiomorphic Chambers, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frame 994. Smithson made the drawing on top of figure 20, plan of a simple box stereoscope without mirrors or lenses, in his copy of James P. C. Southall, Introduction to Physiological Optics (New York: Dover, 1961), 238. He also refers to this source in his 1967 essay Pointless Vanishing Points, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 208209, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 359. In a 15 December 1969 interview with Wheeler, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, frame 1124, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 208, he describes Enantiomorphic Chambers as a stereopticon kind of situation. Smithson attributes his understanding of enantiomorphs to Martin Gardners The Ambidextrous Universe in the same interview, but he also develops other working drawings for the Enantiomorphic Chambers on top of illustrations or on the inside covers of at least two other books in his library: Edward Salisbury Dana, A Textbook of Mineralogy, with an Extended Treatise on Crystallography and Physical Mineralogy (New York: Wiley, 1958), and Andr Delachet, Contemporary Geometry (New York: Dover, 1962). The Robert Smithson Estate at James Cohan Gallery, New York, contains at least three other drawings in which Smithson diagrams the patterns of reflections generated by the enantiomorphic set of mirrors in the work. 112. I do not intend for my description of the stereoscope to reflect its actual position within the history of optics. In his Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1990), 78, Jonathan Crary points out some of the problems arising from not drawing such distinctions. See also Rosalind Krauss, Photographys Discursive Spaces: Landscape/View, Art Journal 42, no. 4 (Winter 1982): 311319. 113. For historical background on how the stereoscope was developed and how it depends on the physiological terms of vision as it subsumes them with the optical, see Crary, Techniques of the Observer, 116136.



Sir Charles Wheatstones design for one of the earliest stereoscopes includes angled

mirrors that fuse the two stereoscopic images. Smithson was aware of this design and worked out drawings based on it in the blank front and end pages of his copy of Harry Asher, Experiments in Seeing (New York: Basic Books, 1961), a volume that reproduces the Wheatstone design. Smithson undermines the intended retinal fusion of the stereoscopic images used in both the Wheatstone and the Southall designs by crossing these two designs. Sketches of Alogon appear in the front page of Smithsons copy of Ashers text as well. 115. Smithson, Pointless Vanishing Points, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, In the drawing, Smithson indicates that Dan Graham photographed his torso and 209, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 359. 116. that Thomas Isbell took the photographs of Enantiomorphic Chambers. Holt confirmed in a 25 September 2000 conversation with the author that the photographed torso is Smithsons. 117. Smithson adds this slang reference to masturbation in parentheses at the end of the In Ruines Lenvers: Introduction la visite des monuments de Passaic par Robert comment just cited from the collage. 118. Smithson, Les Cahiers du Muse national dart moderne 43 (Printemps 1993): 9, Jean-Pierre Criqui points out that Smithsons decision to use chambers in the title of his Enantiomorphic Chambers also might reflect an interest in the camera obscura, although Smithson never develops this reference in a manner equivalent to his critique of the stereoscope. 119. In The Psychology of Perception, 82, Vernon also describes visual experiences that are similar to Greenbergs optical miragethe color cannot be definitely localized as belonging to the surfaces of objects, but seems to be soft and hazy and to lie over them like a filmbut she attributes these experiences to patients with head injuries just recovering color vision. She also uses synthetic and analytic to describe perceptual attitudes taken by individuals in relation to their historical and social conditioning (221223). Her description supports my assertion that Greenbergs dictates describe a particular set of visual expectations and not just the plastic qualities of modernist sculpture and painting. The fact that Vernons descriptions of vision are formally similar to Greenbergs reveals Greenbergs tendency to naturalize perceptual experiences that are presented as specialized or even highly artificial by his contemporaries. 120. Holt, interview with author, 19 November 1991. In the same interview, Holt also stated that Smithson met Greenberg through their mutual friend, Edward Avedisian, around 1964. She described Greenbergs significance for Smithson at some length: Greenberg became Bobs person he would argue with in his mind, his foil. Greenberg had a very strong presence in the art world right up until the end of the sixties. He was someone to contend with. He was imposing his values on to everything, and we knew quite a few artists whose lives were really changed through his evaluations of their work. . . . What he decided was it. So Bob didnt want to be part of that and wanted to find an escape route away from that. Bob used to go into polemical dialogues against Greenberg constantly.




Almost all of Smithsons pre-1967 written responses to Greenbergs writings refer to

essays in Art and Culture, save one reference to Post Painterly Abstraction. After 1967, Smithson addresses only contemporary articles by Greenberg. 122. Robert Smithson, Abstract Mannerism, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frame 248 in Flam, Robert Smithson, 339; Smithson, Donald Judd, 7 Sculptors (Philadelphia: Institute of Contemporary Art, 1965), 14, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 22, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 5. In all of these comments, Smithson is referring to specific passages in Greenbergs American-Type Painting, Art and Culture, 208229. 123. Smithson, Abstract Mannerism, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frames 245, 252, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 339. The version of this essay that appears in Flam is not complete; all subsequent citations refer to the hand-written drafts in the Smithson Papers and include the corresponding pages in Flam, if appropriate. Cool was another term used to define postabstract expressionist art during the early to mid-1960s, most notably in the exhibition Cool Art1967 held at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, Connecticut, 7 January17 March 1968. In Abstract Mannerism, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frames 245, 252, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 339, Smithson links his definition of cool to the painting of his contemporaries: That chilly style has replaced the naive hot-blooded notion of the artist as a painting animal. If it can be said that Abstract Expressionism originated with the unconscious within a natural frame of reference, then it can be said that the New Abstraction or Post Painterly Abstraction originated in an ultra-consciousness and far from anything called nature, even ideal nature. 124. Smithson, Abstract Mannerism, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frames 245, 252, Smithson, Abstract Mannerism, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frames 248, 253, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 339. 125. in Flam, Robert Smithson, 339. I have retained the punctuation Smithson uses in his hand-written draft. 126. Smithson, Abstract Mannerism, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frames 248249. Smithson, Abstract Mannerism, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frame 249. Peter Hutchinson uses the term abstract mannerism to describe Smithsons Smithson crossed out the final line of this quotation, here marked by brackets, in his written draft. 127. 128.

krylon-sprayed, metal-framed mirror pieces and the work of several other artists as reversals and spoofs on hard-edge or purist abstract painting, and, in accordance with Smithsons own development, he notes that the new mannerist sensibility has its seeds even in colour Op Art, a movement supposedly so closely allied with scientism. Mannerism in the Abstract, Art and Artists 1, no. 6 (September 1966): 19, in Battcock, Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology, 189. Two years later, Smithson responds: The complexity and richness of Hutchinsons method starts with science fiction clichs, and scientistic conservations and ends in an extraordinary esthetic structure, a result, not unlike Smithsons own. Robert Smithson, A Museum of Language in the


Vicinity of Art, Art International 12, no. 3 (20 March 1968): 21, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 69, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 81. 129. In the mirror vortices, Smithson plays with perspective and reverse perspective in a manner similar to his use of both in his multiple-unit work. His description of Three-Sided Vortices in a draft of Pointless Vanishing Points entitled The Missing Vanishing Point, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frames 45, 47, is quite clear: My Three-Sided Vortices of 1966 may be viewed as threedimensional examples of Leon Battista Albertis idea of perspective as an intersection of the pyramid by a vertical plane, (see Perspective by G. Ten Doesschate M.D.) or what Euclid called a cone, except in the case of my Vortices the pyramid is inverted and made of mirrored vanishing points that converge into a central perspective. As a result the planes of the vanishing points are reflected into a multiplication of faceted fragments, that radiate from a center point. Smithson created a third type of floor piece that incorporates at least two sets of mirrors that tilt to reflect the ceiling and the floor in reversed order. Often these works were designed as tables; the reversed reflections become particularly disorienting when one is seated in front of them. 130. Smithson called this mirrorized plastic neon plastic. Some of these works may have Smithsons references to contemporary painting are clear in A Short Description of been included in Dan Grahams Plastics exhibition at John Daniels Gallery, New York, 1965. 131. Two Mirrored Crystal Structures, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 328: Both structures have symmetric frameworks, these frameworks are on top of the faceted mirrored surfaces, rather than hidden behind the surfaces. The frameworks have broken through the surfaces, so to speak, and have become paintings. 132. Robert Smithson, The Pathetic Fallacy in Esthetics, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 338. This essay is related to Smithsons Quasi-Infinities and the Waning of Space, 2831, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 3236, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 3437. 133. Smithson, draft of Interpolation of the Enantiomorphic Chambers, Smithson Smithson, interview with Wheeler, 15 December 1969, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll Smithson, Pointless Vanishing Points, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, Greenberg, The New Sculpture, Art and Culture, 143. Smithson, Quasi-Infinities and the Waning of Space, 29, in Holt, The Writings of Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frames 993996. 134. 3833, frame 1124, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 208. 135. 209, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 359. 136. 137.

Robert Smithson, 33, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 35. The first half of Smithsons comment is relevant as well: Any art that originates with a will to expression is not abstract, but representational. Space is representated. Critics who interpret art in terms of space see the history of art as a reduction of three dimensional illusionistic space to the same order of space as our bodies. Two years later, Smithson makes a similar statement that is far more inclusive: Any art that refers back to the self even in terms of space is not abstract but pathetic (existentialism, psychoanalysis, and



humanism all depend on pathos). Robert Smithson, Outline for Yale Symposium, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 218, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 360. 138. 139. 140. Greenberg, Abstract, Representational, and so forth, 133. Smithson, The Pathetic Fallacy in Esthetics, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 337338. Wilhelm Worringer, Abstraction and Empathy: A Contribution to the Psychology of Style,

trans. Michael Bullock (New York: International Universities Press, 1953). Smithson refers to this text and its two categories numerous times in his writings and in interviews. See Smithson, Quasi-Infinities and the Waning of Space, 31, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 35, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 37; Smithson, Frederick Law Olmsted and the Dialectical Landscape, Artforum 11, no. 6 (February 1973): 6465, in Holt, 121122, and Flam, 162; Smithson, quoted in Paul Toner, Interview with Robert Smithson, in Flam, 238, 240; and Smithson, The Pathetic Fallacy in Esthetics, in Flam, 338. 141. Kynaston McShines 1966 exhibition Primary Structures, held at the Jewish Museum, Greenberg, Recentness of Sculpture, in Maurice Tuchman, American Sculpture of New York, was the first exhibition. 142. the Sixties (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum, 1967), 2426. Tuchmans stated goal in this exhibition and its catalogue essays was to present a themeless survey of recent developments; the essays were to address different key issues for the period. Although the title of his exhibition and his aims suggest a comprehensive view of the decade, no work included could have been executed after 1967. 143. 144. Greenberg, Recentness of Sculpture, 24. Greenberg defines minimalism broadly here; he includes what was then called ABC art

and primary structures, and he lists Judd, Morris, Andre, Steiner, Smithson, LeWitt, and Bladen as some of the artists he is considering under this category. Greenberg, Recentness of Sculpture, 26. 145. Greenberg, Recentness of Sculpture, 26. Greenberg refers to Walter Darby Bannards Present-Day Art and Ready-Made Styles, Artforum 5, no. 4 (December 1966): 3035, to support his argument: As with Pop and Op, the meaning of a Minimal work exists outside of the work itself. It is a part of the nature of these works to act as triggers for thought and emotion pre-existing in the viewer. . . . It may be fair to say that these styles have been nourished by the ubiquitous questions: but what does it means? Later, in Outline for Yale Symposium, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 218, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 361, Smithson links these two critics via these two essays in his attack on what he calls their imaginary styles. Peter Plagens responds to Bannard in his Present-Day Styles and Ready-Made Criticism, Artforum 5, no. 4 (December 1966): 3639, by noting the lack of a formalist critique of pop and by calling hard-edge and minimalist works imageless pop. 146. Greenberg, Abstract, Representational and so forth, 134. Greenberg also makes similar qualifications for painting in Modernist Painting, and specifically states that art must not be a demonstration of theory but rather of individual aims.


147. 148.

Greenberg, Recentness of Sculpture, 26. Unfortunately, Greenberg was not the only one who misunderstood. Smithsons con-

tribution to American Sculpture of the Sixties, Alogon #2, shares some superficial formal qualities with the works by Anthony Caro and Ellsworth Kelly included in the exhibition, and Kynaston McShine identified the work of all three as primary structures a year earlier. 149. Cummings, Interview with Robert Smithson, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 153, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 292. See also Smithsons list of definitions of alogon, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3835, frame 236. 150. Smithson, interview with Wheeler, 1969, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, frame 1108, Lawrence Alloway, Serial Forms, American Sculpture of the Sixties, 15. I use the term paradigm here and generally in this text to emphasize the convenin Flam, Robert Smithson, 199. 151. 152.

tional nature of the devices or descriptions of perception frequently used during this period. Specifically, I am depending on Thomas Kuhns contemporary discussion of the role of shared paradigms and paradigm shifts in his text The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962). 153. Thomas Lawson, in The Dark Side of the Bright Side, Artforum 21, no. 3 (November 1982): 63, came to a similar conclusion: The point about Smithsons practice is that it was aimed at revealing the conventions that frame meaning to be less than natural, and that the appearance of naturalness, the naturalness of categories and inventories, is cultures disguise. Holt, interview with author, 19 November 1991. Smithson made this trip with Holt,



Chapter Two

Howard Junkers, and Dale McConathy. Contact sheets of photographs taken by Junkers on this trip remain in the Smithson Papers, AAA. 2. Robert Smithson, The Crystal Land, Harpers Bazaar no. 3054 (May 1966): 72, Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 19, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 7. Smithson spent a great deal of time with Donald Judd during the years 1965 and 1966, and he also wrote a short catalogue essay on Judd for the 1965 exhibition 7 Sculptors. This text, plus numerous drafts that remain in the Smithson Papers, AAA, testify to Smithsons attempts to develop a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between image and structure and to revise his earlier thoughts on the lack of a necessary relationship between abstraction and perception, in terms of Judds sculpture and beliefs. Generally, Smithsons writings are also responses to Judds Specific Objects, Arts Yearbook 8 (1965): 7482. 3. In his Entropy and the New Monuments, 26, published one month later, Smithson links the work of his contemporaries to structures commonly described in science fiction: Many architectural concepts found in science-fiction have nothing to do with science or fiction, instead they suggest a new kind of monumentality which has much in common with the aims of some of



todays artists. I am thinking in particular of Donald Judd, Robert Morris, Sol LeWitt, Dan Flavin, and of certain artists in the Park Place Group. During this period, roughly 1965 into 1967, Smithson had an almost symbiotic relationship with the other artists who exhibited at John Daniels, Dwan, and Park Place Galleries; this group included Dan Graham and many of the artists he lists in the above quotation. 4. Smithson, The Crystal Land, 72, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 19, and Smithson, The Crystal Land, 72, 73, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 20, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 8. 5. Flam, Robert Smithson, 9. In 1971, Smithson does make a short 16 millimeter movie in these canals entitled Swamp. 6. Smithson, A Short Description of Two Mirrored Crystal Structures, in Flam, Robert Smithson, Entropy and the New Monuments, 29, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, Entropy and the New Monuments, 29, in Holt, The Writings of Robert In a 1973 interview with Moira Roth, Smithson defined Duchamps sense of the Smithson, 328. 7. Smithson, 16, Flam, Robert Smithson, 19. 8. Smithson, 16, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 19. 9. ready-made in very different terms, and he was much more critical of what he considered to be Duchamps dandyish contempt for and transcendence of the work process through his transformation of manufactured objects into relics. Even in 1966, Smithson adopted the process or structural terms of the ready-made within a system of relations but did not adopt the notion of the ready-made as object or isolated commodity. He states: In my early works I was not really Minimal; the works were more related to crystallized notions about abstraction. So there was a tendency toward abstraction, but I never thought of isolating my objects in any particular way. Moira Roth, Robert Smithson on Duchamp, Artforum 12, no. 2 (October 1973): 47, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 197199, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 310312. 10. Smithson, undated letter to an unidentifiable individual, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll In The Crystal World (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1966), J. G. Ballard deals with 3832, frame 749. 11. a number of images and issues that are strikingly similar to several important themes in Smithsons early writing and work, and Smithson acknowledged Ballards influence and shared sensibility several times during his life. See Eugenie Tsai, The Sci-Fi Connection: The IG, J. G. Ballard, and Robert Smithson, Modern Dreams: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Pop (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1988), 7175. 12. 13. 14. 15. Ballard, The Crystal World, 38. Ballard, The Crystal World, 73. Ballard, The Crystal World, 77. Ballard, The Crystal World, 89.



Smithson uses a cartographic lattice to superimpose maps of Africa and New Jersey Smithson quoting Jorge Luis Borges in Towards the Development of an Air Terminal

in his 1967 work Ruin of Map Hipparchus (100 B.C.) in Oswego Lake. 17. Site, Artforum 6, no. 10 (June 1967): 37, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 43, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 54. 18. Smithson, Entropy and the New Monuments, 27, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, draft of Interpolation of the Enantiomorphic Chambers, Smithson Robert Smithson, draft of The Crystal Land, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, Smithson, 12, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 14. 19. Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frame 996. 20. frames 10091010. Smithson deleted inorganic from the published version of this essay, but I have reinserted it here because it qualifies the distinctions that Smithson establishes between the two sites. 21. All three of Smithsons drafts of The Crystal Land, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, Robert Smithson, The Monument: Outline for a Film, in Flam, Robert Smithson, William H. Whyte, Jr., ed., The Exploding Metropolis (1958) (reprint Berkeley: Univerframes 10021021, contain phrases quoted from mass-media sources. 22. 356357. 23. sity of California Press, 1993). Another popular term for this phenomenon was the new city. The Exploding Metropolis first appeared as a series of articles in Fortune (September 1957April 1958) and then in book form. All of the contributors wrote for Fortune except Jane Jacobs, whose controversial essay Downtown Is for People became the basis for her 1961 book The Death and Life of Great American Cities (reprint New York: Modern Library, 1993). 24. The contemporary literature on this topic is too vast to be fully referenced here. Some of the key books include R. Buckminster Fuller, Nine Chains to the Moon (1938) (reprint Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1963); Mitchell Gordon, Sick Cities: Psychology and Pathology of American Urban Life (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1965); Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities; Kevin Lynch, The Image of the City (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1960); Lewis Mumford, The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its Prospects (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1961); Brian Richards, New Movement in Cities (London: Studio Vista; New York: Reinhold, 1966); Konrad Wachsmann, The Turning Point of Building: Structures and Design (New York: Reinhold, 1961); David Weimer, The City as Metaphor (New York: Random House, 1966); and Whyte, The Exploding Metropolis. Smithsons library includes two other relevant items: David Lowenthal, ed., Environmental Perception and Behavior (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967), and a special issue of Life (24 December 1965) entitled The U.S. City: Its Greatness Is at Stake. 25. A possible outline for his talk at this symposium, entitled Two Attitudes Toward The Lynch, The Image of the City, 4. City, remains in the Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frame 920. 26.



27. 28.

Dr. Gulick, as quoted in Gordon, Sick Cities, 409. Jacobs provides an important analysis of these two scientific models in The Death In the last sentence of a draft of The Crystal Land, Smithson indirectly refers to the

and Life of Great American Cities, 558578. 29. terms of this particular binary pair: Were these trips nothing more than nature outingspicnics by the sea, hunting wildflowers in the woodsor adventures in Crystal Land? Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frame 1010. Leo Marxs The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America (London: Oxford University Press, 1964) was, perhaps, the most influential contemporary study of this approach to the American landscape and its political ramifications. Smithson mixes a number of terms used by Marx with scientific and other types of metaphors in his outline Two Attitudes Toward The City, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frame 920. 30. 31. 32. Blake, Gods Own Junkyard, 7. Blake, Gods Own Junkyard, 127. William Seitz had already used similar images to identify what he called The Collage Although the term novelty was a commonly used synonym for kitsch or cultural

Environment in The Art of Assemblage, 7276. 33. experiences or products associated with mass culture in the mid-1960s, individual authors represented noveltys effects in different terms, depending on discourses they were participating in and the scale and social uses of the design elements under investigation. Blake claims that novelty forms and designs in architecture and urban planning cause blindness or ongoing visual incoherence, while Greenberg, in his Recentness of Sculpture, describes the effects of novelty sculpture as too easy once the viewer overcomes an initial surprise. 34. Blake, Gods Own Junkyard, 142. Several times in the text, Blake identifies pop as the Robert Venturi devotes part of his 1966 book Complexity and Contradiction in ArchiAmerican art that he considers to be a mess. 35. tecture (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1966) to a rebuttal of Blakes argument and to what he believes are the forced points Blake makes through his image comparisons: In Gods Own Junkyard Peter Blake has compared the chaos of commercial Main Street with the orderliness of the University of Virginia. Besides the irrelevancy of the comparison, is not Main Street almost all right? Indeed, is not the commercial strip of a Route 66 almost all right? As I have said, our question is: what slight twist of context will make them all right? . . . The seemingly chaotic juxtapositions of honky-tonk elements express an intriguing kind of vitality and validity, and they produce an unexpected approach to unity as well (102). Blake later retracted many of the opinions he expressed in Gods Own Junkyard and agreed with Venturis criticisms in a review of Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture in Architectural Forum (June 1967): 5657. Yet Blake does note that Venturis ideas are not original and complains that the architect proposes an architecture of inaction as a solution to social and even formal problems. Indeed, in 1961 in The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs claims that the myth of urban diversity as chaos masks a


complex and vital form of order that produces social and economic stability in urban neighborhoods and must be studied and preserved by urban planners (290312). 36. Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, A Significance for A & P Parking Lots, or Learning from Las Vegas, Architectural Forum 128, no. 2 (March 1968): 37. This is the first published version of a section of their later volume, written with Steven Izenour, Learning from Las Vegas: The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form. Venturi and Scott Brown identify Le Corbusier as one of the architects willing to tear down Paris and begin again. Like Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier was a modernist whose design principles were often based on the formal language of classicism. 37. 38. 39. 1966): 19. 40. 41. Wagstaff, Talking with Tony Smith, 19. Smithson, Towards the Development of an Air Terminal Site, 3640; Smithson, A Venturi and Scott Brown, A Significance for A & P Parking Lots, 38. Venturi and Scott Brown, A Significance for A & P Parking Lots, 91. Samuel Wagstaff, Jr., Talking with Tony Smith, Artforum 5, no. 4 (December

Sedimentation of the Mind: Earth Projects, Artforum 7, no. 1 (September 1968): 4450, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 4147, 8291, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 5260, 100113. The former reference gets Smith into the index of Lucy Lippards seminal anthology Six Years: The dematerialization of the art object from 1966 to 1972 (London: Studio Vista, 1973). 42. Smithson, Towards the Development of an Air Terminal, 40, in Holt, The Writings Smithson, Towards the Development of an Air Terminal, 40, in Holt, The Writings In Sick Cities, Mitchell Gordon describes the automobile as the principle sculptor of of Robert Smithson, 4647, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 59. 43. of Robert Smithson, 46, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 58. 44. the modern metropolis (413), and Blake, in his essay Astride the Open Road in the special issue of Life entitled The U.S. City: Its Greatness Is at Stake, argues that we need to come to terms with the impact of the automobile and the highway on our cultural vision. 45. Smithson seems to have understood their use of the term strip. In a postcard of Las Vegass Fremont Street he sent to Eva Hesse on 15 July 1968, he writes: The street (or strip out there) in the picture goes on for milesrows and rows of motels, casinos, restaurants and of course brightly lit signs. Real Dan Graham land. Eva Hesse Papers, AAA, roll 1476, frame 1205. 46. As with my discussion of the stereoscope, I am referring to linear perspective as it was understood in the 1960sas a generalized convention and cultural metaphor that had little to do its complex mathematical roots in the Renaissance. James Elkins addresses this important distinction and its ramifications for histories and theories of contemporary art in his The Poetics of Perspective (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1994), 144. 47. Michael Fried, Art and Objecthood, Artforum 5, no. 10 (June 1967): 1920, reprinted in Battcock, Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology, 134135.



48. 49.

Fried, Art and Objecthood, 19, in Battcock, Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology, 134. Robert Smithson, Letter to the Editor, Artforum 6, no. 2 (October 1967): 4, in Holt,

The Writings of Robert Smithson, 38, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 67. Later, in Smithson, A Sedimentation of the Mind: Earth Projects, 46, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 84, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 103, Smithson cites an example of Frieds own acceptance of the infinite in one of the critics reviews of the paintings of Morris Louis: Fried claims he rejects the infinite, but this is Fried writing in Artforum, February 1967 on Morris Louis, The dazzling blankness of the untouched canvas at once repulses and engulfs the eye, like an infinite abyss, the abyss that opens up behind the least mark that we make on a flat surface, or would open up if innumerable conventions both of art and practical life did not restrict the consequences of our act within narrow bounds. 50. Smithson, Letter to the Editor, 4, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 84, and Fried, Art and Objecthood, 21, in Battcock, Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology, 139. In Fried, Art and Objecthood, 21, in Battcock, Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology, 139. Howard Junkers sent Smithson a copy of the Venturi and Scott Brown article in an Flam, Robert Smithson, 66. 51. this article, Fried quotes Greenbergs discussion of the optical mirage in The New Sculpture. 52. 53.

undated letter, but the artist may have been independently aware of it. See Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3832, frames 832841. 54. frame 1003. 55. Smithson, Pointless Vanishing Points, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, Smithson, Pointless Vanishing Points, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, Smithson, Pointless Vanishing Points, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, Smithson, Pointless Vanishing Points, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, Smithson made this statement several times during his life. One instance is recorded 208, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 358359 (emphasis mine). 56. 209, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 359. 57. 209, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 359. 58. 209, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 359. 59. in Discussions with Heizer, Oppenheim, Smithson, Avalanche 1 (Fall 1970): 54, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 172, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 244. He also reproduces his Negative Map Showing Region of the Monuments along the Passaic River on the last page of his 1967 Artforum article The Monuments of Passaic so that it follows the narrative of his trip. 60. Robert Smithson, The Monuments of Passaic, Artforum 7, no. 4 (December 1967): Smithson was in the habit of printing the images to be used in both his articles 4851, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 5257, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 6874. 61. and some of his photo-drawings as negative photostats. For instance, he had all of the photographs for The Monuments of Passaic printed this way, even though he used positives Robert Smithson, text related to The Crystal Land, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834,


in the final layout, so the shape rather than the negative of the map is unusual here. These negative photostats and other related materials remain in the Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3835, frames 280288. 62. Smithson cut the original, roughly seven-inch-square map from the upper left-hand corner of the of Weehawken quadrangle. On what is probably an earlier version of this map fragment, he framed the area of his travels with a dark, penciled, but unfinished vertical rectangle and then cut a larger rectangle of the same area out of an enlarged black and white photostat. One of probably several original squares and the enlarged photostat still exist as part of the printed material in the Smithson Papers, AAA, unfilmed. 63. The drawing is dated 1967, and I am using 1968 as the date for the three-dimensional work since this is the date cited by Hobbs, Robert Smithson: Sculpture, 98, the Smithson Estate, and Virginia Dwans archivist, Anne Kovach. The work is dated 1967 only once, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 208. Hobbs suggests that Smithson originally intended Pointless Vanishing Point to be a serial work by citing the artists description of the piece in a letter to Martin Friedman (98). This letter is missing from the Smithson Papers, and although I have found no other reference to support this claim, the majority of the work Smithson produced in this vein had multiple units. So it is possible that he originally conceived Pointless Vanishing Point in a similar format. 64. 65. Asher, Experiments in Seeing, 59. The negative image of the map also indicates its status as flipped and its origin as

a series of photographs since all geological survey maps are based on aerial photographs. This process and Smithsons use of it are discussed in detail in chapter 3. 66. A similar and roughly contemporary photograph by Virginia Dwan became the basis for an advertisement for Dwan Gallery that appeared in Artforum 6, no. 10 (Summer 1968): 11, and several other places. 67. Smithson frequently noted that he derived his sense of the term ungraspable from Samuel Becketts novel The Unnameable. See Wheeler, Exegesis of Tape Done Dec. 23, 1969, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, frame 764. 68. In The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jacobs points out the contradictions inherent to city planning or imaging systems like grids and one-point perspective since they are based on aerial or endless, unobstructed views of a city and passing through it and not on the day to day experience of living in it (172, 493500). 69. The intervening three pages are filled with drawings related to Mirage and Mirror Stratum, both mirror pieces from 1966 and 1967, and possibly Untitled (Map on MirrorPassaic, New Jersey) (1967). See Robert Smithson, Jan. 10, 1970Sept. 19, 1970 Monuments of Passaic 1st draft notebook, Smithson Papers, AAA, unfilmed. 70. Holt recalls that Smithson wrote the article quickly, as was his usual habit, during a short period of time he spent on jury duty. Interview with author, 19 November 1991. Philip Leider



sent Smithson a postcard dated 13 October 1967 thanking him for The New Jersey Monuments. Smithson Papers, AAA, unfilmed. 71. Robert Smithson, A Guide to the Monuments of Passaic New Jersey, 1, in Jan. 10, 1970Sept. 19, 1970 Monuments of Passaic 1st draft notebook, Smithson Papers, AAA, unfilmed. In a related manuscript, entitled Sites and Settings, Smithson provides a list of qualifications for what he calls empty or abstract settings, which are similar to his fourth category of monuments. Flam, Robert Smithson, 362. 72. 73. Smithson, A Guide to the Monuments of Passaic New Jersey, 1. Smithson, A Guide to the Monuments of Passaic New Jersey, 2. Words in brackets

are crossed out in the text. Smithson relates this dual consciousness of time to Edmund Husserls notion of the phenomenology of time, and is relying on two Edmund Husserl texts in his own library Ideas: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology, trans. W. R. Boyce Gibson (New York: Collier Books, 1967), and The Phenomenology of Internal Time-Consciousness, trans. James S. Churchill (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1966)and one other, heavily marked text he owned: Marvin Farber, The Aims of Phenomenology: The Motives, Methods, and Impact of Husserls Thought (New York: Harper & Row, 1966). 74. 75. 76. 77. Smithson, A Guide to the Monuments of Passaic New Jersey, 2. Smithson, A Guide to the Monuments of Passaic New Jersey, 2. Smithson, A Guide to the Monuments of Passaic New Jersey, 3. Chris Markers La Jete, a 1964 film of fundamental significance for Smithson, con-

sists of continuous footage of individual still photographs. Although Marker uses some of the same images to represent different temporal points in the narrative, the films framework, both physical and textual, renders the temporal aspects of the images apprehensible. 78. Smithson, Entropy and the New Monuments, 29, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, A Guide to the Monuments of Passaic New Jersey 34. Smithson, A Guide to the Monuments of Passaic New Jersey 3. Words in brackets Smithson, A Guide to the Monuments of Passaic New Jersey, 4. Smithson also Smithson, 15, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 17. 79. 80.

are crossed out in the text. 81. describes the taking of LSD by artists as evidence of a loss of faith in external space travel, yet he claims that the trips induced by the drug still occur in space, however internalized, and not in time. 82. 83. Smithson, A Guide to the Monuments of Passaic New Jersey, 4. Except for a few crossed-out passages, the second essay is identical to the published This text was to be printed on top of a black and white photograph of Passaics cen-

text, The Monuments of Passaic. 84. tral parking area, which Smithson describes in the published version of the essay. It is one of two advertisement proposals for The Monuments of Passaic which remain in the archives; Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frames 11781179; roll 3835, frames 285286. The longer advertisement text is also reprinted in and Flam, Robert Smithson, 356.


85. 86.

Dwan, interview with author, 18 November 1991. Holt noted that she and Smithson made several trips to Passaic with others. Their

trip with Allan Kaprow and Claes Oldenburg on 6 January 1968 was documented by a few photographs. Holt, interview with author, 19 November 1991. 87. Smithson, The Monuments of Passaic, 48, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 52, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 69. Smithson makes an error when quoting the art critic John Canaday: Canaday referred to the picture as standing confidently along with other allegorical representatives of the arts, sciences, and high ideals that universities foster. In this sentence, Canaday is actually referring to a building represented in the painting Allegorical Landscape by Samuel F. B. Morse and not to the painting itself. Smithsons sliding between descriptions of images and of things parallels what he is doing in general in this section of the essay. 88. In one example from The Crystal Land, Smithson discretely compares the design of a car radio to the sculpture of Donald Judd by describing the radio in terms often used to describe Judds wall pieces: Under the radio dial (55-7-9-11-14-16) was a row of five plastic buttons in the shape of cantilevered cubes. Smithson, The Crystal Land, 73, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 20, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 8. 89. 1971), 17. 90. 91. 92. Frank Lutz, The Still-Open Road, Natural History 27, no. 4 (July-August 1927): 381. Lutz, The Still-Open Road, 381. For a more extensive analysis of the visual and conceptual impact of the American Smith, interview with Lucy Lippard, Tony Smith: Recent Sculpture (New York: Knoedler,

Museum of Natural History in New York on Smithsons work, see my Reproducing Nature: The American Museum of Natural History as Nonsite, October 45 (Summer 1988): 109127. 93. As quoted in William C. Lipke, ed., Fragments of a Conversation, in Holt, The WritThe bridge over the Passaic River links two counties, Bergen and Passaic, so that the Smithson, A Guide to the Monuments of Passaic New Jersey, 4. This phrase was frequently used by others to describe the insulated visual conditions ings of Robert Smithson, 169170, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 190 (emphasis mine). 94. edges or liminal spacesand timesthat Smithson crosses are layered. 95. 96.

of the automobile on the highway. See, for example, Boorstin, The Image (or What Happened to the American Dream), 111. 97. Smithson, The Monuments of Passaic, 49, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 5253, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 70. Craig Owens aptly calls this description an experience of the real as if it were a photograph. Owens, Photography en abyme, 86, in Owens, Beyond Recognition, 27. 98. Or like the films of Smithsons contemporary, Michael Snow. For a detailed discussion of Snows use of looping, see Philip Monk, Around Wavelength, The Michael Snow Project: Visual Art: 19511993 (Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, the Power Plant, and Knopf Canada, 1993), 293385.




Caroline A. Jones discusses the broader significance of this and other artists postHere I am paraphrasing Smithsons statement Czanne and his contemporaries

studio practice in Machine in the Studio: Constructing the Postwar American Artist. 100. were forced out of the studio by the photograph. Lipke, Fragments of a Conversation, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 168, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 188. 101. 102. Boorstin, The Image, 258. For a discussion of the index in relation to contemporary photographic practice, see

Rosalind Krauss, Notes on the Index: Seventies Art in America, October 3 and 4 (SpringFall 1977): 6881, 5867. 103. Fifty-seven black and white Instamatic photographs remain in The Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey project file, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3835, frames 268275. Smithson shot a second set, of which twenty-six remain in this file, roll 3835, frames 276279, but they all may not be images of Passaic, and they could have been taken up to six months later since they were developed in April 1968. Robert Sobieszek reproduces these images in Robert Smithson: Photo Works (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art and University of New Mexico Press, 1993). 104. For example, in his Smithsons Earth: Notes and Retrievals, Robert Smithson: Drawings (New York: New York Cultural Center, 1974), 2021, Joseph Masheck compares Smithsons image of The Fountain Monument to Charles Sheelers 1927 photograph River Rouge Plant Power House to demonstrate that Smithsons attitude toward Passaic, N.J., and its monuments, is not without art history. He does, however, distinguish between Sheelers optimism toward industrialization and progress and Smithsons vision of New Jersey as a postindustrial, entropic landscape. Barbara Rose, in her The Politics of Art Part II, Artforum 7, no. 5 (January 1969): 44, claims that the relationship is formal and iconographical, meaning grounded in American pragmatism, and that it extends to the work of Smithsons contemporaries as well: the only way to understand what is at bottom the significance of Andres rock and brick accumulations or Smithsons epicene disquisitions on the beauties of Passaic and the charm of air terminals. . . . we must look back not only to Dada and Constructivism, but also to Precisionism, a native art movement which has so much in common, not only formally, but iconographically, with current tendencies. Philip Leider warned Smithson of this impending comparison in a 9 December 1968 message: Anyway, if you dont like being compared to the picturesque, wait a month; in January Barbara Rose will be comparing you with American Precisionism. From there, who knows where it will go? Sumeria? Mexico? Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3832, frame 1166. 105. Philip Leider, Review of Edward Ruschas Twentysix Gasoline Stations, Artforum 2, no. 3 (September 1963): 57. By the mid-1970s, some critics had begun to discuss photographs by Ruscha, Smithson, John Baldessari, Eleanor Antin, and others in terms of a third category, antiphotography. See, for example, Nancy Foote, The Anti-Photographers, Artforum 15, no. 1 (September 1976): 4654.



This is particularly true of Ruschas 1966 book Every Building on the Sunset Strip,

which transforms the metropolitan landscape into a pair of film strips of stills. Smithson called this book a pale copy of a bad movie. Smithson, A Museum of Language in the Vicinity of Art, 26, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 76, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 91. 107. 108. Books Received, Artforum 5, no. 7 (March 1967): 66. Vladimir Nabokov, Invitation to a Beheading, trans. Dmitri Nabokov (New York: RanSmithson, A Guide to the Monuments of Passaic New Jersey, 4. Smithson, The Monuments of Passaic, 4950, in Holt, The Writings of Robert

dom House, 1959), 51. 109. 110.

Smithson, 5354, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 71. Smithson lifts the first description from Brian Aldiss, Earthworks (New York: American Library, 1967), 3031. He draws his fountain analogies from industrial images and from the drainage pipe in William Carlos Williamss story Life Along the Passaic River. He uses such sexual metaphors elsewhere in his work during the early to mid1960s, as is discussed in chapter 4. 111. 112. In this concern, Blake echoes Greenbergs argument in Recentness of Sculpture. Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (New York: McLuhan, Understanding Media, 23. In several of his interviews with Wheeler, Smith-

MacGraw-Hill, 1964), 23. 113. son describes New Jersey as a cold zone and New York City as hot. See Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, frame 1117, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 206. 114. See Rose Macaulay, Pleasure of Ruins (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1953) (reprint New York: Walker, 1967); and Paul Zucker, Fascination of Decay (Ridgewood: Gregg Press, 1968). The arguments in these texts formed the basis for Smithsons own use of the term ruin in The Monuments of Passaic and other, later essays. 115. 116. Macaulay, Pleasure of Ruins, 1. Several other contemporary exhibitions dealt with the issue of the monument. Smith-

sons work was included in Monuments, Tombstones, and Trophies, an exhibition held at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts, New York, 17 March to 14 May 1967. Dan Grahams essay Oldenburgs Monuments, Artforum 6, no. 5 (January 1968): 3037, was originally commissioned as a book to accompany this exhibition but was rejected by the Museum. Nevertheless, Graham provides an important analysis of the theoretical and political significance of the monument during this period. Robert Goldwater retreats to a more conventional sense of monuments as subservient to site and public function to explain the absence of many true examples of monuments in modern sculpture. See his exhibition and book What Is Modern Sculpture? (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1969). 117. August Heckscher, Forward, Sculpture in Environment (New York: Cultural Affairs Smithson, A Guide to the Monuments of Passaic New Jersey, 2. Foundation, 1967), n.p. 118.




Smithson, The Monuments of Passaic, 50, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, Smithson, The Monuments of Passaic, 50, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, Smithson marked a block of dates in mid-October, and the title of the film in his 1967 Smithson, The Monuments of Passaic, 51, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, Smithson, The Monuments of Passaic, 51, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, Smithson was not the only one making these analogies. Jean Clay, in The Cool

5455, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 72. 120. 55, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 72. 121. datebook. Smithson Papers, AAA, unfilmed. 122. 55, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 72. 123. 56, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 73. 124. School Is Not on the Rocks, Ralits (July 1967): 78, identifies the great empty forms so characteristic of American life as the inspiration for cool sculpture: In a way, cool art reduces everything to simple, geometric structures using pop art methods. James Smith Pierce, in Design and Expression in Minimal Art, Art International 12, no. 5 (May 1968): 25, claims that Tony Smith and Smithson ignore the purposes for which these great empty forms were made and embrace them for their expression of pure Design, Good Design, just Design, the mute evidence of Mind. For both Smith and Smithson, this muteness had its advantages. One also needs to remember that Smithson published The Crystal Land in a fashion magazine, Harpers Bazaar. 125. 126. Gombrich, Art and Illusion, 287. Smithson, The Monuments of Passaic, 51, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, Smithson, The Monuments of Passaic, 51, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, Smithson, interview with Wheeler, 2 February 1970, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, In an authors note for the first edition of Book One of Paterson, Williams states that

56, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 74. 127. 5657, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 74. 128. frame 1176. 129. the second book comprises the modern replicas. Williams discovers these replicas by walking, and decipherment comes in the middle of Book Two, with a sign: NO DOGS ALLOWED AT LARGE IN THIS PARK (61). 130. Smithson, Jan. 10, 1970Sept. 19, 1970 Monuments of Passaic 1st draft notebook, Smithson, interview with Wheeler, 2 February 1970, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, n.p., Smithson Papers, AAA, unfilmed. 131. frame 1170. Two years earlier, he made a similar argument about romanticism and materialism: One persons materialism becomes another persons romanticism. . . . Both views refer to private states of consciousness that are interchangeable. Smithson, A Museum of Language in the Vicinity of Art, 23, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 71, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 84. 132. Tsai, Interview with Dan Graham, New York City, October 27, 1988, 8.



In a related contribution to Projected Art, an exhibition at Finch College held in 1966,

Graham continuously projected slides of suburban houses. Homes for America was first published in modified form in Arts Magazine 41, no. 3 (December-January 19661967): 2122. See Dan Graham, Rock My Religion: Writings and Art Projects 19651990 (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1993), 1423. For an in-depth discussion of Grahams article, see Charles Reeve, T.V. Eye: Dan Grahams Homes for America, Parachute 53 (DecemberFebruary 19881989): 1924. 134. Mike Metz, Dan Graham, in Gloria Moure, ed., Dan Graham (Barcelona: Fundaci Antoni Tpies, 1998), 228. Ironically, when Homes for America was finally published, it was accompanied by a Walker Evans photograph. 135. In fact, downtown Passaic is now filled with abstract sculptural decorations that Michael Harrington, The Accidental Century (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1966), 16. Smithson, interview with Wheeler, 15 December 1969, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll Theodor Adorno, Commitment, Aesthetics and Politics, (1962), trans. and ed. Adorno, Commitment, 194. This refusal, and along with it Smithsons pointless resemble the design and color schemes of minimalist sculpture and hard-edge painting. 136. 137.

3833, frame 1122. 138. Ronald Taylor (London: Verso Editions, 1977), 180. 139. vanishing points, could also be tied to Smithsons interest in the Renaissance motivation for doing the same: In Renaissance perspective they did actually obliterate the, uh, theres a kind of curious esthetic morality about oblit[eration]about effacing the pinpointing of the perspective. . . . they never really wanted to locate it. Smithson, interview with Wheeler, 15 December 1969, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, frame 1144. Shift exists in at least two other versions, one brown and the other teal, but in this



Chapter Three

installation, Smithson maintains the consistency of the white forms because it is important to the underlying relationships he wants to establish between the five works. 2. These works differ from the leaning and stacking forms of Smithsons contemporaries, Ronald Bladen, Judy Gerowitz, John McCracken, Richard Serras Stacked Steel Slabs, or Carl Andres firebrick pieces because they do not deal with the role of gravity or overtly express the physical process of stacking. Such physical processes or indications of physical presence were addressed, in part, to Greenbergs definition of sculpture in terms of a disembodied optical mirage. Smithson was dealing with abstraction. Thus the precariousness produced by his work stems from mental instabilities: in the case of all these perspectives, you can walk around the perspectives, and they just sort of destroy themselves as perspectives. The gestalt loses itself. Like in my second show, all the pieces were like, in a sense, deliberate (scatterings) of the whole gestalt idea. Smithson, interview with Wheeler, 15 December 1969, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, frame 1144, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 216. 3. Alloway, Serial Forms, in Tuchman, American Sculpture of the Sixties, 15.




Hobbs, Robert Smithson: Sculpture, 101104, identifies Smithsons conflation of the

two systems for rendering space in Leaning Stratas design, and he also recognizes that his use of a cartographic grid is new. But he believes that Smithson chooses it as just another system to defeat or overturn. 5. Smithson, quoted in press release for his second one-person exhibition, Dwan In 1968, Smithson had several opportunities to exhibit a variety of his contemporary Gallery Archives. 6. works together. Minimal Art, Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, and 6 Artists 6 Exhibitions, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, are two other important examples. Each selection and installation of Smithsons work represents a slightly different constellation of ideas and could provide a productive starting point or entry into Smithsons work and thought at this time. I choose to begin with the Dwan exhibition, not only because it precedes the other two but also because of the particular connections Smithson seeks to draw between his abstract sculpture and his first nonsite. The Dwan exhibition also provided the conceptual basis for the other two exhibitions. Smithsons first exhibition devoted to his nonsites exclusively was held at Dwan Gallery, New York, 126 February 1969. 7. Critics certainly were not comfortable with the disparities. Emily Wasserman states that, given the formal poverty of the work, Smithsons elaborate conceptualizing about non-sites and pointless vanishing points . . . seems marginal to the issue of the work itself, and she complains that the infra perspectives make sense from only one point of view or at the most two. Robert Smithson, Artforum 6, no. 9 (May 1968): 62. In a 1968 letter to Enno Develing, Smithson states that in his new works, Shift, for example, there is a rotation around an invisible point. These points have a way of multiplying and causing in me a consciousness of endless disparity. Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3832, frame 1185. Here Smithson uses a homonym to conflate the condition of disparity, a pairing of things so unequal or unlike that they cannot be fruitfully compared with its resulting emotion, despair. Ironically, the appeal and the frustration caused by the alternating perspective figures both lie in their simultaneous inclusiveness and incommensurability. 8. This imagea possible source for Leaning Strataappeared in one of over six exhibitions that were held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York between the years 1961 and 1968 and that featured material about the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Many of the exhibited photographs were taken in preparation for the first U.S. moon landing in 1969. Smithson cut out an alogon shape along the longitude and latitude lines of at least one lunar map that remains in the Smithson Papers, AAA, unfilmed. 9. Robert Smithson, A Provisional Theory of Non-Sites, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 364. David Greenhood states in Mapping (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964), x: A map must therefore be a simile or metaphor if it is to tell us what we need to know. Smithson lifted the images for a number of his 1967 map works, including World Ocean Map (Hammers Equal Area


Projection) and Map Fragment (Polar Map), from this book, and although his copy of Greenhoods text is not otherwise heavily marked, Greenhoods almost Barthesian manner of describing the ways in which maps function as forms of representation resembles Smithsons own cartographic thinking around 1966 and 1967. 10. 11. Greenhood, Mapping, 17. Within his discussion of flat maps or what are called map projections, Greenhood

notes that the basic problem for cartographers is the representation of a curved surface on a plane. The problem is one of incommensurability between the dimensional terms of a thing and its representation. Smithson reverses the map-making process, just as he reversed the terms of the alternating perspective drawing, to underscore the inherent incommensurability or contradiction in projecting something that has a three-dimensional shape onto a twodimensional surface. 12. Greenhood, Mapping, 75, describes this process pedagogically: In the three previous chapters we looked upon a map as a network and framework for locating points, representing distances between points, and for indicating the relative positions of points as respective directions. Except for those points any network or framework would be empty, and the map would be without content. In this chapter we will look upon the map as a container, noting some of the many different sorts of content that various kinds of maps have to show and how they can do so. In failing to grasp this cartographic sense of containmentclaiming that the formats of the nonsite bins are irrelevantthe critic Barbara Reise, in Untitled 1969: a footnote on art and minimalstylehood, 172, dismisses Smithsons aims as pedantic: he collects rocks and exhibits them in containers as sensuous in expression as a doctoral thesis. Smithson dismisses Reises criticism as a cheap imitation of Michael Fried. See Smithson, interview with Wheeler, 1969, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, frame 1105. 13. In his second nonsite, Nonsite #2, Smithson underscores the central importance of a structural relationship over a material one by eliminating any content from the nonsites threedimensional framework. The work consisted of twelve white wooden wedges that together created a platform 108 inches in diameter; mirror strips indicated the lines of longitude along the spaces between each wedge. The nonsites map, entitled Entropic Pole, was cut from a Weehawken quadrangle and centered on a swamp southeast of Passaic. Smithson asked that the work be destroyed after its exhibition in 6 Artists 6 Exhibitions at the Walker Art Center in 1968. See correspondence with Martin Friedman, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3832, frames 10861087. The same can be said for an analogous system of signification used in the exhibition halls of New Yorks American Museum of Natural History. By suspending a group of relatively disparate but choice objects and images gathered from a generally defined area within the highly artificial confines of a gridded diagram of space that refers to but is not actually a part of that area, the curators force viewers to consider at least two different yet metonymically related places, one located outside the walls of the museum and the other an exacting although selective reproduction



of it located in the exhibition halls display case. For a discussion of the relationship between these practices and Smithsons nonsites, see my Reproducing Nature: The Museum of Natural History as Nonsite. 14. Kublers distinction between series and sequence in The Shape of Time, 3334, is helpful here: A series therefore implies a closed grouping and a sequence suggests an openended, expanding class. The mathematical distinction is worth keeping in this discussion. Smithsons choice of the title Shift for one of the works in the exhibition indicates the multiple levels to this distinction. Aside from the obvious synonyms such as change, alter, displace, and the terms geological significancea fault or displacement Shift also refers to linguistic changes on the phonetic level, as in the change in vowel systems from Middle to Modern English, as well as changes in position during speech as indicated by shifts in pronouns or shifters such as from I to you. All of these senses of the term are relevant here. 15. Walter Prokosch, a partner at TAMS, heard Smithsons talk at the June 1966 Yale Art Association symposium on Shaping the Environment: The Artist and the City and first discussed the opportunity with him there. This meeting provides a link between Smithsons work on the metropolis and his work on the air terminal. Smithson recounts the general history of his relationship with TAMS in several interviews but most extensively to Paul Cummings, even though the dates he cites are off by one year. See Cummings, Interview with Robert Smithson, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 152, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 290291. 16. For a discussion of the role of architecture in Smithsons thought, see Mark Linder, Smithson uses Roland Barthess phrase structuralist activity, which he derived from Sitely Windows: Robert Smithsons Architectural Criticism, Assemblage 39 (1999): 635. 17. Barthess essay, The Structuralist Activity, Partisan Review 34, no. 1 (Winter 1967): 8288, to describe his working process in his The Artist as Site-Seer; or, A Dintorphic Essay, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 344. Smithson submitted a number of drawings related to the air terminal to Mel Bochners 1966 exhibition Working Drawings and Other Visible Things on Paper Not Necessarily Meant to Be Viewed as Art, School of Visual Arts, New York. This exhibition provides another framework for historically reconstructing the impact of structuralist theory on the work of New Yorkbased artists during the mid-1960s; this necessary next step is outside the scope of my study here. 18. Chris Marker, La Jete: cin-roman (New York: Zone Books, 1992), n.p. The film was Tippetts, Abbott, McCarthy, and Stratton, Terminal Area Concepts (n.p., 1966), n.p. Edward Ruschas 1967 book Thirtyfour Parking Lots in Los Angeles suggests a similar completed in 1962 but not released until 1964. 19. Smithsons copy of this prospectus remains in the Smithson Papers, AAA, unfilmed. 20. interest in, among other things, revealing the analogies between the parking lots gridded design and other types of two-dimensional imagery, including painting, by photographing parking lots from an aerial point of view and then rotating the resulting image so that it can be viewed vertically, from top to bottom, as well as horizontally, from right to left.


21. 22.

Greenhood, Mapping, 110. This is the same square section of the Weehawken quadrangle that Smithson used

for his Negative Map Showing Region of the Monuments along the Passaic River, and, like the negative map, Untitled (Map on MirrorPassaic, New Jersey) relies on the format of earlier sculpture, in this case the Mirror Stratum, for its design. Untitled (Map on MirrorPassaic, New Jersey)s seven mirrors also echo the number of steps in the negative Passaic map and the number of photographs Smithson originally planned to include with the finished The Monuments of Passaic. 23. For a general discussion of the range of uses of the term structure in the midElayne H. Varian, Foreword and Acknowledgment, Art in Process: The Visual DevelSee, for example, Kynaston McShine, Introduction, Primary Structures: Younger 1960s, see Colpitt, Minimal Art: The Critical Perspective, 111112. 24. opment of a Structure (New York: Finch College Museum of Art, 1966), n.p. 25. British and American Sculptors (New York: Jewish Museum, 1966), n.p., and the transcript of the Primary Structures Symposium, Archives of American Art, New York, NY. 26. Morris, Notes on Sculpture, Part II, 21, in Battcock, Minimal Art: A Critical AntholRobert Morris, Notes on Sculpture: Part 3, Artforum 5, no. 10 (Summer 1967): 26, His sense of structural theory also depended on what was available in translation in ogy, 230, and Morris, Continuous Project Altered Daily, 11. 27. in Morris, Continuous Project Altered Daily, 28. 28. the 1960s, the contexts within which this material was publishedpredominantly literary magazinesand the existing secondary texts on structural theory. Smithsons library and references in his writings provide some sense of what structural theory looked like in the 1960s, and I have used this set of texts to reconstruct its image. 29. Robert Smithson, The Artist as Site-Seer or Coded Environments, 1, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frame 318. Smithson also wrote a shorter, revised draft, The Artist as SiteSeer; or, A Dintorphic Essay, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 340345, and a third fragment of endnotes, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frames 160162. 30. Smithson, The Artist as Site-Seer or Coded Environments, 1, Smithson Papers, Smithson, The Artist as Site-Seer or Coded Environments, 1, Smithson Papers, Smithson, The Artist as Site-Seer or Coded Environments, 1, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frame 318. 31. AAA, roll 3834, frame 318. 32. AAA, roll 3834, frame 318. Smithson borrowed the concept of Stonehenge as a computer from others. A schematic plan of this computer, which Smithson tore out of a book, remains in the Smithson Papers, AAA, unfilmed. Smithson may also be transposing ideas about Stonehenge with critical comments about his work and the work of his contemporaries in such a way that Stonehenge and the work become interchangeable coded environments. A critic reviewing the Primary Structures exhibition writes: There are shapes and materials from contemporary architecture,



engineering, physics, mathematics, philosophybut most of all there is the shape, clear and clean, with a faint fluorescent glow, of the minds of these new druids in their cybernetic Stonehenge. The New Druids, Time (16 May 1966): 104. 33. Barthes, The Structuralist Activity, 83. Smithson cites Barthes along with Ballard, Tony Smith, and Jorge Luis Borges as possessors of the same degree of aesthetic awareness that he is advocating. Each has his own version of the coded environment. Smithson relies on the writings of these four individuals as he develops his argument in The Artist as Site-Seer or Coded Environments, but Barthess version, the simulacrum of the object, and Barthess definition of the structuralist activity that produces it sustain this and many of Smithsons other theoretical moves. 34. 35. Barthes, The Structuralist Activity, 83, 88. Speaking of contemporary experiences of the Nazca lines, which are dependent on

aerial photography, Smithson says: All we can do is use our orders and systems to investigate them, and they generally turn out to be wronglike Stonehenge Decoded. Stonehenge doesnt strike me as a Neolithic computer. What is interesting is how we fail to understand such remote things. Gregoire Mller and Robert Smithson, . . . The Earth, Subject to Cataclysms, Is a Cruel Master, Arts Magazine 46, no. 2 (November 1971): 39, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 180, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 255. 36. For a thoughtful analysis of Smithsons engagement with Kublers text in other essays, see Pamela M. Lee, Ultramoderne: Or, How George Kubler Stole the Time in Sixties Art, Grey Room 2 (Spring 2001): 4677. 37. Kubler, The Shape of Time, 39. This entire section, Prime Objects and Replications, was of particular interest to Smithson. He copied out two complete paragraphs from it, which remain in the Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frame 813. 38. 39. Kubler, The Shape of Time, 43. This is Smithsons typical practice in his early writing. Sometimes he lifts entire argu-

ments without acknowledging their sources or attributes only one phrase to an author whose thinking has clearly framed a much larger portion of his own thinking. 40. Smithson, The Artist as Site-Seer or Coded Environments, 2, Smithson Papers, Smithsons thinking about Morriss work in relation to Kublers text depends on MorAAA, roll 3834, frame 319. 41. riss own interest in Kublers writings. See Robert Morris, Form-Classes in the Work of Constantin Brancusi, M.A. thesis, Hunter College, New York, 1966. For a discussion of this thesis in relation to the development of Morriss work, see Berger, Labyrinths, 5860. 42. Smithson, The Artist as Site-Seer or Coded Environments, 2, Smithson Papers, Smithson, The Artist as Site-Seer or Coded Environments, 3, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frame 319. 43. AAA, roll 3834, frame 321.


44. 45. 46. 47.

Judd, Specific Objects, 78. Kubler, The Shape of Time, 4041. Kubler, The Shape of Time, 6061. Smithson, The Artist as Site-Seer or Coded Environments, 4, Smithson Papers, Smithson, The Artist as Site-Seer or Coded Environments, 4, Smithson Papers, Smithson, The Artist as Site-Seer or Coded Environments, 5, Smithson Papers,

AAA, roll 3834, frame 322. 48. AAA, roll 3834, frame 322. 49. AAA, roll 3834, frame 323. In his second draft, The Artist as Site-Seer; or, A Dintorphic Essay, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 343, he clarifies his linguistic intentions by replacing memory with language. 50. Smithson, The Artist as Site-Seer; or, A Dintorphic Essay, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 343. Here Smithson has substituted syntax for tombic, which appears in the earlier draft of this essay. 51. Smithson discusses a spring 1966 trip with Andre, Morris, Dwan, and Holt to make site selections for an earth-moving project in South Jersey in a fragment of an unidentified essay provisionally entitled Atlantic City, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 332, but even if his date is correct, the project wouldnt have been in conjunction with the aerial art show since Smithson wasnt hired by TAMS until July 1966. Smithsons 1967 datebook contains notations about a trip to the Pine Barrens with Morris and Andre on 16 and 17 April, his 1968 datebook contains a notation for another trip on 9 June, and his 1970 datebook contains another with Bob and Barbara Fiore on 20 July. Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3832, frames 505, 493, 555. Dwan also tried to purchase land in this area for these projects in early 1967. See correspondence in Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3832, frames 967973. 52. Morris made two versions of his model for Project in Earth and Sod, one in plaster in LeWitt eventually buried and recovered his Box in the Hole at the house of Martin 1966 and one in acrylic in 1967. 53. Visser in Bergeyk, Holland, on 1 July, 1968. Photodocumentation of this work was included in the Earthworks exhibition at Dwan Gallery, New York, in October 1968. 54. Robert Smithson, Proposals for Earthworks and Landmarks to Be Built on the Smithson, Towards the Development of an Air Terminal Site, 40, in Holt, The WritFringes of the Fort WorthDallas Regional Air Terminal Site, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 355. 55. ings of Robert Smithson, 46, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 58. Smithsons written agreement outlining Dwan Gallery and TAMSs individual responsibilities states that the architectural firm will provide access to materials and equipment when needed. See Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frames 912913. 56. Smithson, Proposals for Earthworks and Landmarks to Be Built on the Fringes of the Fort WorthDallas Regional Air Terminal Site, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 354. Smithson executed



at least one drawing of the floor plan of the twenty-foot by ten-foot space that indicates the major axes of the terminal plan and the locations of each of the four proposals. See Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frame 911. The gallerys second room was to contain photographs of the construction process. 57. For a more extensive discussion of this exhibition and the issues it raised for exhibiSmithson, Towards the Development of an Air Terminal Site, 37, in Holt, The WritSmithson, Towards the Development of an Air Terminal Site, 37, in Holt, The WritGreenhood, Mapping, x. Smithson represents this relationship most graphically in his essay, A Museum of tion design generally in the mid-1960s, see my Resemblance and Desire, 9698. 58. ings of Robert Smithson, 43, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 54. 59. ings of Robert Smithson, 43, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 54. 60. 61.

Language in the Vicinity of Art, 2127, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 6778, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 7894, and in his 1966 drawing, A Heap of Language. 62. Robert Smithson, Language to be Looked at and/or Things to be Read, Dwan Gallery Press Release, June 1967, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 104, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 61. 63. Smithson, Towards the Development of an Air Terminal Site, 38, in Holt, The WritWachsmann, The Turning Point of Building, 62. Smithson lifted a number of images ings of Robert Smithson, 44, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 55. 64. from this text, including Alexander Graham Bell with his tetragonal lattice kites (see figure 3.17) and a diagram of a modular grid progression, to illustrate his ideas. The latter remains pasted to a square piece of paper in the Smithson Papers, AAA, unfilmed. 65. Robert Smithson, Part Two, fragment of The Artist as Site-Seer or Coded Environments, 57, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frames 161162; Towards the Development of an Air Terminal Site, 40, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 44, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 55. 66. Smithson, Towards the Development of an Air Terminal Site, 40, in Holt, The WritSmithson, Part Two, 7, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frame 162. Smithson, Some Void Thoughts on Museums, 41, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Robert Smithson, Picturable Situations and Infra-Maps, 2, Smithson Papers, AAA, ings of Robert Smithson, 47, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 60. 67. 68.

Smithson, 58, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 42. 69. roll 3834, frame 809. Reinhardts own notes on his black paintings echo Smithsons reading of them in terms of negation. See in particular Ad Reinhardt, Black, Black, and [On Negation], in Barbara Rose, ed., Art-as-Art: The Selected Writings of Ad Reinhardt (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), 9798, 101103. The two artists met in 1966 and were in close contact until Reinhardts death in 1967. In 1968, Jo Baer sent Smithson her correspondence with the edi-


tor of Art International concerning the way she uses language formally. Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3832, frames 10891090. 70. Smithson depends here on Ludwig Wittgensteins picture theory, as described by G. E. M. Anscombe in An Introduction to Wittgensteins Tractatus (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1959), 6478. 71. Smithson analogously quotes Anscombe, An Introduction to Wittgensteins Tractatus, 76, in A Sedimentation of the Mind: Earth Projects, 50, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 89, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 110: But it is clear then an all-white or all-black globe is not a map. 72. In his interview with Paul Toner, Smithson states that Tar Pool and Gravel Pit doesnt point to a site. Flam, Robert Smithson, 239. Three Side Views of Concrete or Wooden Foundations to be Plotted on Level Ground relates to the air terminal generally but not to any particular site. 73. 74. Robert Smithson, Untitled (Air Terminal-Windows), in Flam, Robert Smithson, 355. Smithson, Towards the Development of an Air Terminal Site, 40, in Holt, The WritUntitled (Air Terminal-Windows) is probably a fragment of an early draft of Roland Barthes, The Diseases of Costumes, Partisan Review 34, no. 1 (Winter Robert Smithson, Aerial Art, Studio International 177, no. 910 (April 1969): 180, in Smithson, Discussions with Heizer, Oppenheim, Smithson, 54, in Holt, The WritGreenhood, Mapping, 175. Smithson eventually identifies this first nonsite and all

ings of Robert Smithson, 47, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 60. 75. Towards the Development of an Air Terminal Site. 76. 1967): 97. 77. Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 92, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 116. 78. ings of Robert Smithson, 172, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 244. 79. of his subsequent nonsites after Nonsite #2 in terms of their specific sites. Non-Site (an indoor earthwork) becomes A Nonsite, Pine Barrens. Site takes priority over generic framework or earthwork. 80. Dwan, interview with author, 1 August 1997. Another source of information might have been John McPhees two-part essay on the Pine Barrens, which appeared in The New Yorker in the fall of 1967. McPhee discusses a then current scheme to build a massive jetport, the largest on earth, in the Pine Barrens to serve a third of the United States. One part of this essay, Profiles: The Pine BarrensII, The New Yorker (2 December 1967), remains in the Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3836, frames 357377. Both were published together as a book, The Pine Barrens (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1968). 81. In a 1 August 1997 interview with the author, Dwan described Smithsons choice of the Pine Barrens airfield site as reflective of his constructivist mind frame. Smithsons Untitled (Antarctica) and his A Non-Site (an indoor earthwork) map resemble the 1920s spatial constructions of the Russian constructivist artist Alexander Rodchenko. Although Rodchenko did not refer



to maps, his constructions also began as simple, two-dimensional geometric shapes, which he cut into nested concentric rings, squares, or hexagonals of equal widths. He then fit the individual pieces back together at a variety of angles and suspended them from a thin wire so that they could rotate in three dimensions. Smithson used similar methods to render visible a flat maps potential to transform into a three-dimensional form or frame. 82. Jorge Luis Borgess story, The Library of Babel, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings (New York: New Directions, 1962), 51, begins: The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries. . . . From any of the hexagons one can see, interminably, the upper and lower floors. An endless chain of analogies. For a reading of Smithsons uses of this text, see Shapiro, Earthwards. For a discussion of other cartographic and crystalline permutations of the hexagon in Smithsons work, see my Robert Smithsons Time Frames, 172183. 83. Smithson, Discussions with Heizer, Oppenheim, Smithson, 54, in Holt, The WritRobert Smithson, Dialectic of Site and Nonsite, in Gerry Schum, ed., Land Art ings of Robert Smithson, 172, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 244. 84. (Hanover: Fernsehgalerie, 1969), n.p., reprinted in Robert Smithson, The Spiral Jetty, Gyorgy Kepes, ed., Arts of the Environment (New York: Braziller, 1972), 231, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 115, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 153. 85. For a more extended discussion of the image/platform in Smithsons work, see my Casting Glances: Reconsidering Robert Smithsons Documentary Process, Art in the Landscape (Marfa: Chinati Foundation, 2000), 5571. 86. Smithson, draft of Interpolation of the Enantiomorphic Chambers, Smithson Smithson, The Monument: Outline for a Film, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 356. The Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frame 994. 87. film is about a site-finding trip to the Pine Barrens with a group of artists, and Smithson collects sand at the site, presumably for A Non-Site (an indoor earthwork). 88. 89. 90. Marker, La Jete: cin-roman, n.p. Marker, La Jete: cin-roman, n.p. The similarities between the fates of Markers hero and Ballards Dr. Sanders are

worth considering here. Time travel and its usual grim cost is a stock device of science fiction; the historical and psychological awareness of the falseness of this paradise Marker grants his hero is not. 91. See Smithsons copy of Palenque Official Guide, which remains in his library, SmithSmithson, Incidents of Mirror-Travel in the Yucatan, 30, in Holt, The Writings of son Papers, AAA, unfilmed. 92. Robert Smithson, 9697, 100, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 123, 128. See also a 12 February 1969 letter from Robert Heizer to Smithson describing these masks and their function. Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3832, frame 1202. In his completed essay, Smithson cites Heizers article with Philip


Drunker, Gifts for the Jaguar God, National Geographic 110, no. 3 (September 1956): 366375, as his source. 93. 94. Toner, Interview with Robert Smithson, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 240. The Monuments of Passaic is an exception to this pattern, which is why I chose to Hannah Wilke and Claes Oldenburgs Ray Gun collection would be an analogous and Smithson identifies the source of the Gondwanaland map as Marshall Kay and Edwin

discuss it separately. 95. contemporary project. 96. Colbert, Stratigraphy and Life History, in Incidents of Mirror-Travel in the Yucatan, 28. He made at least two other drawings related to this project in 1969 Earth Map of Sulfur & Tar (Cambrian Period) and Earth Map for Mexico (Gondwanaland). Smithson chose to recreate Gondwana in Mexico because it contained the name of Virginia Dwan, his dealer and traveling companion. Dwan, interview with author, 29 June 1989. Smithson submitted the collage discussed here for the July, August, September 1969 exhibition catalogue (New York: Seth Siegelaub, 1969). 97. Smithson, Incidents of Mirror-Travel in the Yucatan, 28, in Holt, The Writings of The maps that Smithson cut these fragments from remain in the archive and are Smithson Papers, AAA unfilmed printed material. According to a postcard Smithson Robert Smithson, 96, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 121. 98. dated, but Smithson chose not to include this information in the drawing. 99. sent to Eva Hesse, he and Nancy Holt visited the moon shortly after they received Bochners card. Smithsons postcard, purchased at the Hayden Planetarium, American Museum of Natural History and dated 23 July 1967, contains a photograph of the moon to which Smithson has added an arrow and the caption: Our hotel is here. On the verso he wrote: This is a really swell place. Nice people, good food, interesting view. Eva Hesse Papers, AAA, roll 1476, frames 11641165. Several other artists, including Dennis Oppenheim and Howard Junkers, sent Smithson postcards of landscapes that they identified as moonscapes, and Sol LeWitt sent Smithson a postcard in July 1968 of a Japanese astronaut on the moon. 100. The time lag between the appearance of this particular issue of Life and the design of the September issue of Artforum was probably sufficient, but there is not enough information to determine if the choice was deliberate. 101. Smithson, A Sedimentation of the Mind: Earth Projects, 50, in Holt, The Writings of Virginia Dwan, postcard from Playa dela Ropa, Mexico, 20 February 1968, Smithson For example, the site of Smithsons Third Mirror Displacement is near the town of Robert Smithson, 9091, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 111113. 102. Papers, AAA, unfilmed. 103. Bolonchen (nine fountains) de Rejon. Bolon signifies nine in the Yucatec and Chol languages. J. Eric S. Thompson, in his Maya Hieroglyphic Writing (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1960), 5354, suggests that since lahun, the word for ten in both of these Indian



languages, means a completion plus one, there probably was once a count of nine in both groups. He defends this theory by pointing out how important the number nine was in Mayan religion and ritual. Mayan cosmology contained nine underworlds with a lord for each, many Mayan gods have the number nine in their names, the number was commonly used in magic and medicine since it was considered to be extremely lucky, and prayer days usually fell on ninth and thirteenth days, the latter being the number of compartments in the heavens. Thompson augments the numerological significance of the term bolon with an adjectival meaning of uncontaminated, something which is apart or with which man has not been in contact. Smithson discusses nine incidents of mirror travel in the Yucatan, which are based on the nine mirror displacements he created there, but he never mentions the reasons for nine stops along the road. Perhaps Thompson provided Smithson with some of the reasons, perhaps not. Neither Dwan nor Holt could recall why Smithson chose the number nine, but both women felt that the information supplied by Thompson provided Smithson with a plausible reason for doing so. Dwan, interview with author, 29 June 1989; Holt, interview with author, 19 November 1991. I am less interested in determining the correct sources behind Smithsons choices than in discovering the structuring patterns his choices reveal. 104. Although Smithson did photograph several different views of most of his mirror displacements, his use of the camera during the creation of the nonsites was quite different. When making the latter, he took a large number of images of the site from numerous angles and positions since the metal bins provided the containment for the site, and this containment was more specifically spatial than temporal. 105. Smithson, Incidents of Mirror-Travel in the Yucatan, 30, in Holt, The Writings of Smithsons god was Texcatlipoca, Dwans was Coatlicue, and Holts was a god Robert Smithson, 97, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 123. 106. related to culture; Dwan doesnt remember which one. Interview with author, 29 June 1989. C. A. Burland, The Gods of Mexico (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1967), was Smithsons primary source of information on these and the other gods he mentions in the text, and his use of this source explains why he mixes Maya and Aztec gods indiscriminately. 107. Smithson acknowledges the importance of these types of texts to his work in Mexico in an interview with Wheeler, 2 February 1970, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, frame 1178, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 230231. 108. 109. James Churchward, The Lost Continent of Mu (New York: Ives Washburn, 1931). Ignatius Donnelly, Atlantis: The Antediluvian World (1882) (reprint New York: Harper

& Row, 1971). Smithson confuses Donnellys text with Churchwards by incorrectly attributing a discussion of the Land of Mu to Donnelly in Incidents of Mirror-Travel in the Yucatan. Although Donnellys text reflects legitimate scholarly practices, Smithson fails to make a distinction between it and the Churchward text because the gist of both arguments and the methods they use to make them are basically the same.



Churchward writes: There is nothing new under the sun. What is, has been. All that

we learn and discover has existed before; our inventions and discoveries are but reinventions and discoveries. The Lost Continent of Mu, 289. 111. Interview with Wheeler, 2 February 1970, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, frame 1178, Smithson, A Sedimentation of the Mind: Earth Projects, 50, in Holt, The Writings of For a delineation of the similarities between John Lloyd Stephenss text and Smithand Flam, Robert Smithson, 231. 112. Robert Smithson, 91, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 113. 113. sons Incidents of Mirror-Travel in the Yucatan, see Jennifer L. Roberts, Landscape of Indifference: Robert Smithson and John Lloyd Stephens in Yucatan, Art Bulletin 82, no. 3 (September 2000): 544567. 114. Stephens and his traveling companions offered the natives two things that might have also interested Smithsondaguerreotypes and a cure for stabisimus, a condition that causes the eyes to cross and a concomitant convergence of binocular vision. See John Lloyd Stephens, Incidents of Travel in Yucatan, vol. 1 (1841) (reprint Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1962), 6577. 115. 116. Toner, Interview with Robert Smithson, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 240. Robert Smithson, Fragments of an Interview with P. A. Norvell, April 1969, in

Lippard, Six Years: The dematerialization of the art object from 19661972, 87, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 192. 117. Reading Artforum, according to Smithson, leads to the discovery of a circularity that spreads into a map devoid of destinations, but with land masses of print (called criticism) and little oceans with right angles (called photographs). Robert Smithson, Hidden Trails in Art, in and Flam, Robert Smithson, 366. Analogously, Greenhood, Mapping, 122, claims that all maps are interruptions or excerpts removed from their context, as a story-teller would say. Smithsons argument shares more with Greenhoods than it does with contemporary discussions of artistic practice, which refer to art as information, easily assimilated into any number of systems. Smithson viewed the systemic arguments of Jack Burnham and others as utopian. See his discussion in Fragments of an Interview with P. A. Norvell, April 1969, in Lippard, Six Years, 90, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 194195. See also Jack Burnham, Real Time Systems, Artforum 8, no. 1 (September 1969): 4955, or Alloway, Network: The Art World Described as a System. In her contemporary work on the magazine, Bringing the War Home, Martha Rosler uses the shared mechanical terms and look of photographic reproductions in magazines to combine magazine images from the Vietnam war and the NASA moon landing with images of upscale domestic interiors and small-town U.S.A. Formal similarities between these images produce the disturbing differences and ultimately the ideological relationships between their significance in terms of the growing globaland extra-globalpolitical and social economy.




Smithson, Fragments of an Interview with P. A. Norvell, April 1969, in Lippard, Six Smithson, Incidents of Mirror-Travel in the Yucatan, 32, in Holt, The Writings of Smithson, Fragments of an Interview with P. A. Norvell, April 1969, in Lippard, Six Smithson, in Lipke, Fragments of a Conversation, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Barthes, The Diseases of Costume, 94. Smithson was participating in a trend he described a year earlier: A cartography of

Years, 87, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 192. 119. Robert Smithson, 102, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 130. 120. Years, 87, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 192. 121. Smithson, 169, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 190. 122. 123.

uninhabitable places seems to be developingcomplete with decoy diagrams, abstract grid systems made of stone and tape (Carl Andre and Sol LeWitt), and electronic mosaic photomaps from NASA. Smithson, A Museum of Language in the Vicinity of Art, 26, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 76, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 92. 124. Smithson, Incidents of Mirror-Travel in the Yucatan, 30, in Holt, The Writings of Toner, Interview with Robert Smithson, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 235. Dennis Oppenheim sent Smithson a postcard of Hong Kong that was dated 8 June Robert Smithson, 96, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 122. 125. 126.

1973, labeled with sights in Taos, New Mexico, and inscribed A Displacement. Smithson Papers, AAA, unfilmed. 127. Alain Robbe-Grillet, Time and Description in Fiction Today, For a New Novel, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Grove Press, 1965), 153. This essay was important to Smithson, and his copy of it is heavily marked. 128. 129. Toner, Interview with Robert Smithson, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 235. Philip Leider, message to Smithson, 17 April 1969, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833,

frame 1237. The articles he was referring to are Henry S. F. Cooper, Jr., A Reporter at LargeMen on the Moon (IJust One Big Rockpile), The New Yorker 45 (12 April 1969): 53129 and (II An Awful Lot of Holes), (19 April 1969): 4797. Leiders letter would have arrived at Smithsons loft while he was traveling in Mexico, so Smithson might have read both of the articles before he began writing Incidents of Mirror-Travel in the Yucatan in the first week of May. His datebook indicates that he planned to rest and write article on Yucatan on 5 through 9 May. Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3832, frame 532. 130. 131. Cooper, A Reporter at LargeMen on the Moon (IJust One Big Rockpile), 103. Bruce Kurtz, Conversation with Robert Smithson on April 22, 1972, The Fox no. 2

(1975): 75, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 203, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 268. According to Holt, The New York Times intended to include Smithsons reaction to the moon landing for a special supplement to the paper containing reactions of a number of well-known individuals. The Times didnt end up printing Smithsons statement, but Holt remembers that


his comparison of the event to a nonsite was part of it. Holt, interview with author, 14 April 1997. The supplement accompanied the 21 July 1969 paper. Smithson recorded the first moon walk in his 1969 datebook with the reminder Watch Moon Shot. Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3832, frame 534. 132. 133. Caption for film footage taken by Buzz Aldrin, Life 67, no. 6 (8 August 1969): 19. Smithson, A Museum of Language in the Vicinity of Art, 26, in Holt, The Writings of

Robert Smithson, 76, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 91. Some of Smithsons contemporaries felt that many of his works possessed such a futuristic quality. For example, in a postcard dated 15 July 1967, Dwan writes that Kosloff was surprised to hear about glass sculpture and earthworks. Said you belonged in 21st C. Smithson Papers, AAA, unfilmed. 134. Michael Butor, Science Fiction: The Crisis of its Growth, Partisan Review 34, no. 4 (Fall 1967): 596. A film advertisement published in The New York Times two days after the first moon walk contained this caption: Only two men have walked on the moon. For the rest of us, 2001 is as close as were likely to get. The Museum of Modern Arts science fiction film series also opened a week after the moon landing. 135. Mel Bochner and Robert Smithson, The Domain of the Great Bear, Art Voices 5, no. 4 (Fall 1966): 51, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 31, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 33. The authors also discuss the black-light murals of the view of the earth from the surface of the moon. Painted in 1953, these murals present a future soon to become a reality. 136. Thompson, Maya Hieroglyphic Writing, 1. Borges proposed a similar description of the experience of The Library of Babel, Labyrinths, 58: The Library is unlimited and cyclical. If an eternal traveler were to cross it in any direction, after centuries he would see that the same volumes were repeated in the same disorder (which, thus repeated, would be an order: the Order). My solitude is gladdened by this elegant hope. 137. Victor Von Hagen, in World of the Maya (New York: Mentor, 1960), 204, proposes a similar function for the glyphs: It could be possible that Maya glyph-writing is not really a written language at all, but rather a mnemonic device by which with dates, glyph pictures of gods, and symbols the reader had his memory jogged. 138. 233234. 139. 140. 141. 142. 143. 144. 145. 146. Lvi-Strauss, The Savage Mind, 235. Lvi-Strauss, The Savage Mind, 236. Lvi-Strauss, The Savage Mind, 236237. Lvi-Strauss, The Savage Mind, 238. Lvi-Strauss, The Savage Mind, 263. Kubler, The Shape of Time, 19. Kubler, The Shape of Time, 19. Kubler, The Shape of Time, 20. Claude Lvi-Strauss, The Savage Mind (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966),




Roland Barthes, Criticism as Language, The Critical Moment: Literary Criticism in the Barthes, The Structuralist Activity, 83, 88; Roland Barthes, On Racine (New York: Barthes, On Racine, viiiix. Kubler, The Shape of Time, 19. Smithson, A Sedimentation of the Mind: Earth Projects, 50, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, Untitled (Site Data), in Flam, Robert Smithson, 362. Smithson, Untitled (Site Data), in Flam, Robert Smithson, 362. Smithson, Untitled (Site Data), in Flam, Robert Smithson, 363. Smithson, Fragments of an Interview with P. A. Norvell, April 1969, in Lippard, Six Roland Barthes, Writing Degree Zero, trans. Annette Lavers and Colin Smith (New Godard uses the outskirts and postWorld War II high-rise buildings of Paris to rep-

1960s (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964), 129. 148. Hill and Wang, 1964), viii. 149. 150. 151.

Robert Smithson, 90, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 112. 152. 153. 154. 155.

Years, 89, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 193194. 156. York: Hill and Wang, 1968), 7677. 157. resent the future in his 1965 film, Alphaville. For a contemporary analysis of this temporal dislocation and its radical potential, see Annette Michelson, Film and the Radical Aspiration, Film Culture no. 42 (Fall 1966): 3442, 136, reprinted in P. Adams Sitney, ed., The Film Culture Reader (New York: Praeger, 1970): 404421. 158. 159. Dwan, interview with author, 6 October 2000. Smithson, Quasi-Infinities and the Waning of Space, 28, in Holt, The Writings of Smithson, interview with Wheeler, 2 February 1970, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833,

Robert Smithson, 32, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 34. 160. frame 1177, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 230.


Chapter Four


Letter from Carol Merman, [1969], Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, frame 53. John Smithson made one proposal in 1969 for Sonsbeek 70. See related correspondence,

Ashberry, Allan Kaprow, Morton Subotnick, and John Vaccaro were the other invited artists. 2. Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, frames 47, 5152. Hobbs, Robert Smithson: Sculpture, 188189, lists several other instances. 3. 4. 5. Hobbs, Robert Smithson: Sculpture, 189190. Statement of Donation, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3835, frame 1048. Smithson, interview with Wheeler, 15 December 1969, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll In his public lecture at Kent State, Smithson compared his works lack of durabil-

3833, frame 1142. 6. ity to the conditions of any art exhibition: The duration of an art show in New York is three weeks, then what happens to the art? Smithson quoted by Sue Zimmerman in Breakability


fascinates Smithson, Daily Kent Stater, 20 January 1970, n.p., Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3835, frame 1051. 7. Smithson, The Monuments of Passaic, 51, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 57, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 74. In several different interviews, Smithson used the analogy of Humpty Dumpty to describe such a decisive situation, one that can never be put back again. See, for example, Robert Smithson, Entropy Made Visible, interview with Alison Sky, On Site #4 (1973): 27, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 194, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 307. 8. For a history and photographic documentation of the work in relation to May 1970, its partial destruction by arson, and debates provoked by its presence and deterioration, see Dorothy Shinn, Robert Smithsons Partially Buried Woodshed (Kent State: Kent State University Art Gallery, 1990). 9. Smithson, in Mller and Smithson, . . . The Earth, Subject to Cataclysms, Is a Cruel Master, 40, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 181, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 256257. Smithson makes a similar reference to Claude Lvi-Strausss notion of entropology when discussing the attraction of ruins in Pettena, Conversation in Salt Lake City, 5556, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 187, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 299. 10. 11. Toner, Interview with Robert Smithson, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 239. In his interview with Toner, Smithson states: If you follow the scale of the earth, As I have already indicated, Smithson was never a fan of conceptual art, but by the

everything is minuscule. The idea was to set up the scale. Flam, Robert Smithson, 234. 12. late 1960s he needed to make this distinction visibly discernible in his work for a number of reasons. He participated in a several exhibitions in 1969 and 1970 that were identified with conceptual art, and, in some cases, his work was executed by others based on a set of instructions. The most significant of these exhibitions include Art by Telephone, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 1969; 555,087, Seattle Art Museum, 1969; Konzeption/Conception, Stdtische Museum Leverkusen, 1969; When Attitude Becomes Form, Bern Kunsthalle and Institute of Contemporary Art, London, 1969; One Month, New York, 1969; Information, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1970; and Recorded Activities, Moore College of Art Gallery, Philadelphia, 1970. In a 1969 interview with Patsy Norvell, Smithson states: I think that conceptual art which depends completely on written data is only half the story; it only deals with the mind and it has to deal with the material too. Sometimes it is nothing more than a gesture. I find a lot of written work fascinating. I do a lot of it myself, but only as one side of my work. My work is impure; it is clogged with matter. Im for weighty, ponderous art. There is no escape from matter. The two are in a constant collision course. You might say that my work is like an artistic disaster. It is a quiet catastrophe of mind and matter. Smithson, Fragments of an Interview with P. A. Norvell, April 1969, in Lippard, Six Years, 89, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 194. Smithsons work always engages the conceptual or what he calls the mental in terms of the visual and then increasingly the material. The nonsites mark this shift most clearly.




Smithson, interview with Wheeler, 15 December 1969, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll Lvi-Strauss, The Savage Mind, 23. Lvi-Strauss, The Savage Mind, 23. Lvi-Strauss, The Savage Mind, 24. The activities of cartographers could be added to this list since they are skilled in the

3833, frame 1124. 14. 15. 16. 17.

artifice of reduction. No other contrivance of man, according to Greenhood, Mapping, 75, tells so much about so wide a realm in so small a space. 18. Smithson, interview with Wheeler, 15 December 1969, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll Lvi-Strauss, The Savage Mind, 25. For a discussion and images of this project and its installation in the mine and in the 3833, frame 1133, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 211. 19. 20.

museum, see Hobbs, Robert Smithson: Sculpture, 132138, and Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3835, frames 559609. 21. Smithson, interview with Wheeler, 1969, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, frames 11121113, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 202. The version of this interview published in Flam is a bit misleading since it does not indicate that Smithsons description of the mine, which I have quoted here, begins after a break when the tape recorder was turned off. Smithson and Wheeler may have also been looking at an image of the Britannia Copper Mines, which Smithson and Holt visited during their December 1969 stay in Vancouver. See Hobbs, Robert Smithson: Sculpture, 184185. 22. Smithson, interview with Wheeler, 1969, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, frame 1113, Wheeler, interview with Wheeler, 1969, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, frame 1113, Smithson, interview with Wheeler, 1969, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, frames Lewis Mumford, The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its Prospects Mumford, The City in History, 446, 451. Mumford also notes that factories claimed the in Flam, Robert Smithson, 203. 23. in Flam, Robert Smithson, 203. 24. 11131114, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 203. 25. (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1961), 446. 26. best and usually the most beautiful waterfront sites and rapidly poisoned them. In suggesting such a collapse of two distinct landscape values, Mumford echoes Williamss collapse of two analogous conventions for projecting similar values into the landscape in Life Along the Passaic River. 27. 28. 29. 30. Mumford, The City in History, 450. Mumford, The City in History, 479480. Mumford, The City in History, 480. Smithson, interview with Wheeler, 1969, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, frame 1117.

Wheeler also notes the similarities that would arise when comparing a cross-section of the buildings in both places: And these floors and walls and things, when you take and look at them as a grid section.


31. 32.

Smithson, interview with Wheeler, 1969, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, frame 1117. Hobbs, Robert Smithson: Sculpture, 190, notes that the rustic woodshed stood in

sharp contrast to the other buildings in the area, which were for the most part modern concrete structures. Two days before the shootings, protestors reiterated Smithsons actions by burning down the campus ROTC building, an old wooden World War II barracks slated to be demolished. Five years later, an arsonist tried to do the same thing to Partially Buried Woodshed. 33. James Miller, Democracy Is in the Streets (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987), Jim Quilligan, Law enforcement program stresses justice and values, Daily Kent Toner, transcript of interview with Robert Smithson, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, 310311, 320. 34. Stater, 23 January 1970, 6, Smithson Papers, AAA, unfilmed. 35. frame 1187. This statement is crossed out and does not appear in the published version of this interview, Toner, Interview with Robert Smithson, in Flam, Robert Smithson. 36. Sigmund Freud, Totem and Taboo: Resemblances between the Psychic Lives of Savages Freud, Totem and Taboo, 45. Freud, Totem and Taboo, 6869. Freud, Totem and Taboo, 122. Freud, Totem and Taboo, 117118. Anton Ehrenzweig, The Hidden Order of Art (Berkeley: University of California Press, and Neurotics (New York: Vintage, 1946), 26. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41.

1967), 19. Smithson often cited this text in his writings and interviews when discussing his work or the work of some of his contemporaries. For example, he describes Tony Smiths turnpike ride in terms of dedifferentiation in A Sedimentation of the Mind: Earth Projects, 46, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 84, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 103. See also Smithson, in Lipke, Fragments of a Conversation, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 168169, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 189190; and Smithson, interview with Wheeler, 1969, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, frame 1108, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 199. 42. Smithson, interview with Wheeler, 15 December 1969, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll Smithson, interview with Wheeler, 15 December 1969, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll Smithson, interview with Wheeler, 15 December 1969, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll John Perreault, Nonsites in the News, New York 2, no. 8 (24 February 1969): 46. Robert Smithson, Art Through the Cameras Eye, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 3833, frames 11161117, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 205. 43. 3833, frame 1119, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 206. 44. 3833, frame 1118, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 206. 45. 46.

372. Smithsons argument parallels or perhaps depends on Parker Tylers discussion of the camera as an optical omniscience from which nothing can be concealed, since it is able to reproduce both microscopic and telescopic effects, with the result that all barriers between spectator and



spectacle necessarily seem arbitrary and artificiala mere matter of stage illusion. Tyler, Underground Film, 10. 47. Smithson first proposed similar double photographs for his Cayuga Salt Mine ProjThese homosexual tendencies are related to the ones Smithson attributes to The ect but chose to use mirrors instead. 48. Fountain Monument in The Monuments of Passaic. For a discussion of the sexual implications of The Fountain Monument, see Jones, Machine in the Studio: Constructing the Postwar American Artist, 317318. 49. For example, the preface to Rugged 1 (1967): n.p., Smithson Papers, AAA, unfilmed, typically states that its images are intended as aides for the artist in his studies of male anatomy and posing of the model. 50. 51. This film was released in the United States by MGM in 1965. Claude Lvi-Strauss, Totemism, trans. Rodney Needham (Boston: Beacon Press, Smithson, interview with Wheeler, 1969, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, frame 1119. These taboo areas are similarly masked on the covers of magazines by strategically

1963), 1 (emphasis mine). 52. 53.

placed, brightly colored geometric shapes. Smithsons archive contains several examples of such abstract censoring. 54. This disruption could also be compared to the way photographic images of his threedimensional works (see figure 1.9) disrupt the two-dimensional coherence of the pages of the art magazine with perceptual conundrums that make the formal and spatial terms of the works depicted and the magazine difficult to reconcile. 55. 56. Smithson, Art Through the Cameras Eye, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 372. Hutchinson, Mannerism in the Abstract, 2021, in Battcock, Minimal Art: A Critical Smithson, interview with Wheeler, 2 February 1970, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833,

Anthology, 194. 57. frames 11741175, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 229230. Smithson is referring to Georges Bataille, Death and Sensuality: A Study of Eroticism and the Taboo (New York: Ballantine Books, 1969). 58. The original version of this work is in a private collection. Smithson published the Alexander Pope, Dunciad, 1728 version, 2: 153154. Oppenheims and Morriss proposals are included in Long Beach Island, New Jersey works map in 0 to 9 no. 6 ( July 1969): 5859. 59. 60.

(Long Beach Island, NJ: Long Beach Island Foundation of Arts and Sciences, 1969), Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3837, frames 57105. Evidently, Smithson was interested in this site because of its name as early as 1966. Hesse sent him a postcard of Barnegat Light on Long Beach Island dated 18 July, 1966: Loveladies is just a section of Long Beach. Sorry I was passing on false information. Smithson Papers, AAA, unfilmed printed material. 61. Williams, The Autobiography, 146.



Smithson, Incidents of Mirror-Travel in the Yucatan, 33, in Holt, The Writings of

Robert Smithson, 160, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 133. Smithson proposed a similar island project for Sonsbeek 70 in Holland, but it and his mudflow proposal were rejected for ecological reasons. See Oxenaar, letter to Smithson, 29 December 1969, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, frame 51. 63. Robert Smithson, partial draft of a text on Island of Broken Glass, Smithson Papers, In a 13 February 1970 letter to the Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources, AAA, roll 3835, frame 1065. 64. Douglas Christmas, supporter of the project and owner of the Ace Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia, and Venice, California, outlines all of the data concerning the nesting and breeding habits of birds and seals in the area that he collected from ecological consultants and the limited threat Smithsons project posed. Smithson Papers, AAA, roll, 3833, frame 83. See February 1970 correspondence concerning Smithsons inquiries regarding the purchase of islands in the Chesapeake Bay, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, frames 7880. 65. Smithson, interview with Wheeler, 15 December 1969, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, frame 1145, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 216. Smithson also considered several compromises: Even though chances are rare that any harm would happen to these animals, I feel it is not a risk worth taking. Instead, I propose an island project that would actually encourage these animals to visit the island. An array of concrete material would be built up to form cavernous habitat that would in fact encourage the breeding cormorants because the concrete contours would rise above tide level. Smithson did intend to add an ironic twist to his accommodations by desiring that the work be considered A Monument to Ecology. Smithson, quoted in letter from Douglas Christmas to the Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources, 13 February 1970, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, frames 8384. Like all of Smithsons monuments, this one would be a ruin; nature would see to that. 66. 67. Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3835, frame 1073. Smithson, Frederick Law Olmsted and the Dialectical Landscape, 65, in Holt,

The Writings of Robert Smithson, 122, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 163. A longer draft of this section entitled Ecology and the Incest Taboo remains in the Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frames 11971204. Smithson is referring to comments by Alan Gussow, a landscape painter, as quoted in Grace Glueck, Artist-in-Residence for Mother Earth, The New York Times, 12 March 1972, 21. 68. 69. Max Kozloff, Art, The Nation 208, no. 11 (17 March 1969): 347. Roy Bongartz, Its Called Earth ArtAnd Boulderdash, The New York Times MagaFor example, Bongartz, Its Called Earth Art, 30, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3836,

zine, 1 February 1970, 16, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3836, frame 489. 70. frame 496, misrepresents Smithsons negative view of conceptual art with the quotation: What the artist does, the way he thinks, is valuable, whether or not there is any tangible result. 71. Bongartz, Its Called Earth Art, 30, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3836, frame 496.




I use the pronoun he and possessive his because women artists were rarely dis-

cussed in these early essays, and no women were included in the first two exhibitions of earth art: Earthworks, Dwan Gallery, New York, October 1968, and Earth Art, Andrew Dickson White Museum, Cornell University, Ithaca, 1969. Lucy Lippards Overlay: Contemporary Art and the Art of Prehistory (New York: Pantheon Books, 1983), provides the most significant, early corrective to this history by re-theorizing the relationship between nature and culture and the gendered connotations of these two terms. Her starting point is a critique of Sherry Ortners Is Female to Male as Nature Is to Culture?, Feminist Studies 1, no. 2 (1972): 521. 73. Robert Smithson, From Ivan the Terrible to Roger Corman or Paradoxes of Conduct in Mannerism as Reflected in the Cinema, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 213, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 349. Smithson cites two examples of recent collections of these photographs Fred W. McDarrah, The Artists World in Pictures (New York: Dutton, 1961), and Alan Solomon, New York: The New Art Scene (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1967). In A Refutation of Historical Humanism, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 336337, Smithson elaborates on his attitude toward naturalistic acting: The artist should be an actor who refuses to act. His art should be empty and inert. Self-expression must be voided. 74. Smithson, From Ivan the Terrible to Roger Corman or Paradoxes of Conduct in Mannerism as Reflected in the Cinema, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 213, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 350. 75. Smithson, From Ivan the Terrible to Roger Corman or Paradoxes of Conduct in Mannerism as Reflected in the Cinema, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 213, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 350. 76. Smithson, From Ivan the Terrible to Roger Corman or Paradoxes of Conduct in Mannerism as Reflected in the Cinema, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 213, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 350. 77. Sergei Eisenstein, Notes from a Directors Laboratory (during work on Ivan the TerriRoland Barthes, Seven Photo Models of Mother Courage, Drama Review 12, no. 1 Barthes, Seven Photo Models of Mother Courage, 55. Smithson, From Ivan the Terrible to Roger Corman or Paradoxes of Conduct in Manble), Film Form: Essays in Film Theory, trans. and ed. Jay Leyda (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1949), 262. 78. (Fall 1967): 44. 79. 80.

nerism as Reflected in the Cinema, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 214, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 351. Smithson misrepresents Barthess comparison, which was between Greta Garbo and Audrey Hepburn, and Barthess characterization of Hepburns face as an Event. Roland Barthes, Mythologies, trans. Annette Lavers (New York: Hill and Wang, 1972), 57. Smithsons source is unclear since Mythologies was not translated into English until 1972. Although I analyze Smithsons From Ivan the Terrible to Roger Corman or Paradoxes of Conduct in Mannerism as Reflected in the Cinema, Abstract Mannerism, The Artist as Site-


Seer or Coded Environments, and Picturable Situations and Infra-Maps, in different chapters of this book, he wrote all four essays around the same time. In each, he addresses many of the same conceptspicture versus painting, the framing edge or support, mannerism and naturalism or formalismand the relationships between them in terms of different discursive frameworksfilm and avant-garde film theory, early 1960s painting and Greenbergs writings, and the air terminal and structural theory. I have discussed the essays separately to articulate the historical and conceptual ramifications of these frameworks, but at this point in my argument the reader needs to consider all of them to appreciate how they collectively produce a foundation for Smithsons later arguments and final works. 81. Smithson, From Ivan the Terrible to Roger Corman or Paradoxes of Conduct in Mannerism as Reflected in the Cinema, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 215, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 353. 82. Smithson, From Ivan the Terrible to Roger Corman or Paradoxes of Conduct in Mannerism as Reflected in the Cinema, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 213, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 349. 83. Barthes, in Seven Photo Models of Mother Courage, 45, states: In other words, distancing is not a form (which is precisely what all those who want to discredit it say it is); it is the relationship of a form and a content. In order to distance, there has to be a reference point: the meaning. 84. Smithson, Art Through the Cameras Eye, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 374. Smithson also discusses abstraction as a fearful withdrawal from nature in Toner, Interview with Robert Smithson, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 238. 85. 86. Smithson, Art Through the Cameras Eye, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 375. In describing his plans for a film about a 1971 earthwork, Broken Circle/Spiral Hill,

Smithson elaborated on his intentions: A work on this scale doesnt end with a show. It has a way of generating continual movement. Museum shows often neutralize art by taking it out of societyout of circulationby rendering it abstract and ineffective. Sonsbeek [the venue for Broken Circle/Spiral Hill ], at least, points toward a new sense of circulation. Mller and Smithson, . . . The Earth, Subject to Cataclysms, Is a Cruel Master, 41, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 183, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 259. 87. Robert Smithson, A Cinematic Atopia, Artforum 10, no. 1 (September 1971): 53, in Eisenstein, A Dialectic Approach to Film Form, Film Form, 49. Eisenstein, Through Theater to Cinema, Film Form, 35. Eisenstein, Through Theater to Cinema, 5. Eisenstein, The Cinematographic Principle and the Ideogram, Film Form, 38. Eisenstein, A Dialectic Approach to Film Form, 50. Smithson, The Spiral Jetty, 230, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 115, and Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 105, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 138. 88. 89. 90. 91. 92. 93.

Flam, Robert Smithson, 151.




Smithson, The Spiral Jetty, 230, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 115, and Hobbs, Robert Smithson: Sculpture, 197, notes that Smithson initially sold individual

Flam, Robert Smithson, 151152. 95. images of the Spiral Jetty but stopped when these images began to be considered independent works of art. 96. 97. Toner, Interview with Robert Smithson, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 240. This was Artforums first special issue devoted to film. It was edited by Annette

Michelson, an intellectual fellow traveler and an influential interpreter of the work of Dziga Vertov, Sergei Eisenstein, and the politics of montage in particular. See, for example, her influential essay The Man with the Movie Camera: From Magician to Epistemologist, Artforum 10, no. 7 (March 1972): 6072. 98. See Smithsons notes on the contents of the individual reels of raw footage for The Smithson, A Cinematic Atopia, 53, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 107, and Spiral Jetty, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3835, frames 868881. 99. Flam, Robert Smithson, 141. Several scholars have suggested that Smithsons descriptions of the ultimate film goer as well as his museum of the void depend on Platos myth of the cave. See, for example, Shapiro, Earthwards, 95, 107. Although I dont deny Smithsons allusion to this myth in these descriptions, I believe that other, historically specific perceptual paradigms and conditions are more central to what he is after. 100. Tyler, Underground Film, 10. He describes the situation: The most spineless of such films can pretend to be spoofs, but here again is an aspect in which the film cameras subject matter invites the exact coefficient of the voyeur-spectator. Not merely the audience is seeking peephole sensations, so are the actors and filmakers who provide numerous films that correspond to sex shows and are aesthetically too little above the commercial nudie films shown on Forty-second Street in New York (21). 101. Smithson, A Cinematic Atopia, 55, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 108, and Smithson, interview with Wheeler, 1969, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3833, frame 1119, Freud, Totem and Taboo, 117118. Smithson, Art Through the Cameras Eye, in Flam, Robert Smithson, 375. Smithson, The Spiral Jetty, 231, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 115, and John Ward, Alain Resnais: Or, the Theme of Time (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1968), Flam, Robert Smithson, 142. 102. in Flam, Robert Smithson, 206. 103. 104. 105.

Flam, Robert Smithson, 152. 106. 14. Smithson believed that his generation lived in a particularly destructive time and that cinema played a central role: It seems that the war babies, those born after 193738 [Smithson was born in 1938] were Born Deadto use a motto favored by the Hells Angels. The philosophism of reality ended some time after the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the ovens cooled down. Cinematic appearance took over completely sometime in the late 50s.


Nature falls into an infinite series of movie stillswe get what Marshal McLuhan calls The Reel World. Smithson, A Museum of Language in the Vicinity of Art, 26, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 74, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 91. 107. The unedited footage Smithson intended to use to make a movie about his 1971 earthwork Broken Circle/Spiral Hill consists of numerous, lengthy establishing shots, which manifest the relatively small scale of the work in relation to the sand quarry that surrounds it. 108. Smithson, Picturable Situations and Infra-Maps, 2, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frame 809. In From Ivan the Terrible to Roger Corman or Paradoxes of Conduct in Mannerism as Reflected in the Cinema, in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, 214, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 350, Smithson claims that Manneristic art is often called pseudo, sick, perverse, false, phony and decadent by the naturalists or truth tellers, yet it seems to me that what the Mannerist esthetic does disclose or recover is a sense of primal evil. 109. Smithson, Fragments of an Interview with P. A. Norvell, April 1969, in Lippard, Six Smithson, Fragments of an Interview with P. A. Norvell, April 1969, in Lippard, Six Lvi-Strauss, The Savage Mind, 238239. Lvi-Strauss, The Savage Mind, 241. Lvi-Strauss, The Savage Mind, 242. Years, 90, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 194. 110. Years, 90, and Flam, Robert Smithson, 194. 111. 112. 113.

Introduction Page 1 [He] is a recorder, not a maker. . . . Clement Greenberg, America, America!: Review of The Minds Geography by George Zabriskie and The Poem of Bunker Hill by Harry Brown, The Nation (17 January 1942): 72. Has Passaic replaced Rome as The Eternal City? Robert Smithson, The Monuments of Passaic, Artforum 7, no. 4 (December 1967): 51. My generation, your generation, we have been marked by the sign of travel. Jonas Mekas, Where Are WeThe Underground?, in Gregory Battcock, ed., The New American Cinema (New York: Dutton, 1967), 19. Chapter 1 Page 13 Cincinnatus was opaque. . . . Vladimir Nabokov, Invitation to a Beheading (New York: Capricorn Books, 1965), 2426. Sightings fall like heavy objects from ones eyes. . . . Smithson, Some Void Thoughts on Museums, Arts 41, no. 4 (February 1967): 41.





Abstractions Ambiguities Page 31 sion. . . . Leo Steinberg, The Algerian Women and Picasso at Large, Other Criteria: Confrontations with Twentieth-Century Art (London: Oxford University Press, 1972), 411, n. 27. The Lessons of Optical Art Page 45 Whats involved here is pure publicity. . . . William Seitz, quoted in Bruce Glazer, The Changing Role of the Modern Museum: A Discussion with Lawrence Alloway and William Seitz, Arts Yearbook 9 (1967): 15. Perceptual Enantiomorphs Page 59 Is it possible that somehowperhaps in terms of a space and time wildly unlike the space and time we know on the macroscopic levelevery particle is a true mirror image of its antiparticle? . . . Martin Gardner, The Ambidextrous Universe (New York: Basic Books, 1964), 272. Chapter 2 Page 77 The city, like man, no longer had limits. . . . Michael Harrington, The Accidental Century (Baltimore: Penguin, 1965), 19. Why should any artist be concerned with the monuments of Passaic? . . . Robert Smithson, text related to The Monuments of Passaic, in Jan. 10, 1970Sept. 19, 1970 Monuments of Passaic 1st draft notebook, n.p., Smithson Papers, AAA, unfilmed. Everything was coming apart. Everything was falling. . . . Vladimir Nabokov, Invitation to a Beheading (New York: Capricorn Books, 1965), 223. Perspective: The Metropolis Page 83 To approach a city, or even a city neighborhood, as if it were a larger architectural problem, capable of being given order by converting it into a disciplined work of art, is to make the mistake of attempting to substitute art for life. Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) (reprint, New York: Modern Library, 1993), 486. A Guide to the Monuments of Passaic Page 100 Many subjects had difficulty in making a mental connection between the fast highway and the remainder of the city structure, just as in the Boston case. . . . Kevin Lynch, The Image of the City (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1960), 65. That ambiguity cannot be seen is a central thesis of E. H. Gombrichs Art and Illu-


Highway culture is invisible because its taken for granted, except by those who dont like it. Lawrence Alloway, Hi-Way Culture (with Notes on Alan DArcangelo), Arts Magazine 41, no. 4 (February 1967): 28. Chapter 3 Page 123 If all time is eternally present All time is unredeemable. . . . T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton, The Complete Poems and Plays 19091950. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1962), 117. On the edge of memory, art finds a temporary foothold. Robert Smithson, draft of Incidents of Mirror-Travel in the Yucatan, Smithson Papers, AAA, roll 3834, frame 559. The Terminal View Page 134 Nothing sorts out memories from ordinary moments. Later on they do claim remembrance when they show their scar. Chris Marker, La Jete: cin-roman (New York: Zone Books, 1992), n.p. Yucatan Is Elsewhere Page 163 It never looked quite like thisbut very like a postcard to me. Being beaten to death by post-card landscapes. Wish you were here. Messages on postcards sent to Bob and Nancy Smithson, Smithson Papers, AAA, unfilmed. Chapter 4

Page 193

The Freudian dualism prevents us from positing any break with nature, and consequently

precludes the notion of a return to nature . . . Norman O. Brown, Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History (New York: Random House, 1959), 84. If we can abstract pathogenicity and hygiene from our notion of dirt, we are left with the old definition of dirt as matter out of place. . . . Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970), 36. Modern day ecologists with a metaphysical turn of mind still see the operations of industry as Satans work. . . .



Robert Smithson, Frederick Law Olmsted and the Dialectical Landscape, Artforum 11, no. 6 (February 1973): 64. Trespassing Page 205 There is one warning to which we shall have to give heed in making this attempt. . . . Sigmund Freud, Totem and Taboo: Resemblances between the Psychic Lives of Savages and Neurotics (New York: Vintage, 1946), 37. Image Crisis Page 215 De Quincy saw the horror, where others see the depth, of the prison of modern form . . . Frank Kermode, The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967), 173. Certainly


Annual Reports and Other Mining Company Publications American Nuclear Corporation. Annual Report 1970. Laramie, WY: American Nuclear Corporation, 1970. American Nuclear Corporation. Annual Report 1972. Laramie, WY: American Nuclear Corporation, 1972. American Smelting and Refining Company. Annual Report 1971. New York: American Smelting and Refining Company, 1971. Denison Mines Limited. Annual Report 1970. Toronto: Denison Mines Limited, 1970. Falcon Bridge Nickel Mines Limited. Annual Report 1970. Toronto: Falcon Bridge Nickel Mines Limited, 1970. Hecla Mining Company. Annual Report 1970. Wallace, ID: Hecla Mining Company, 1970. Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company. Annual Report 1970. Toronto: Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company, 1970. Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company. Annual Report 1971. Toronto: Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company, 1971. Kennecott Copper Corporation. Annual Report 1968. New York: Kennecott Copper Corporation, 1968. Kennecott Copper Corporation. Annual Report 1971. New York: Kennecott Copper Corporation, 1971. Peabody Coal Company. Green Earth: Land Use and Conservation. St. Louis: Peabody Coal Company, 1967. Peabody Coal Company. Mining Coal on Black Mesa. St. Louis: Peabody Coal Company, 1970. Ranchers Exploration Development Corporation. Annual Report 1971. Albuquerque, NM: Ranchers Exploration Development Corporation, 1971. Anthropology and Archaeology Burland, C. A. The Gods of Mexico. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1967. Ceram, C. W. The First American: A Study of North American Archaeology. Translated by Richard Winston and Clara Winston. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1971. Charbonnier, Georges, ed. Conversations with Claude Lvi-Strauss. Translated by John Weightman and Doreen Weightman. London: Jonathan Cape, 1969. Coe, Michael D. The Maya. Mexico City: Ediciones Lara, 1966. Colton, Harold S. Hopi Kachina Dolls. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1959. Daniel, Glyn. The Megalith Builders of Western Europe. Baltimore: Penguin, 1962. Douglas, Mary. Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970.

robert smithsons library Compiled and

organized by Lori Cavagnaro



Dragoo, Don W. Mounds for the Dead: An Analysis of the Adena Culture. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Museum, 1963. Edwards, I. E. S. The Pyramids of Egypt. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1947. Heizer, Robert F., ed. Mans Discovery of His Past: Literary Landmarks in Archaeology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1962. Lvi-Strauss, Claude. The Elementary Structures of Kinship. Boston: Beacon Press, 1969. Lvi-Strauss, Claude. The Savage Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966. Lvi-Strauss, Claude. Totemism. Translated by Rodney Needham. Boston: Beacon Press, 1963. Lvi-Strauss, Claude. Tristes Tropiques. Translated by John Russell. New York: Atheneum, 1967. Malinowski, Bronislaw. The Language of Magic and Gardening. Vol. 2 of Coral Gardens and Their Magic. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1965. Mason, John Alden. The Ancient Civilization of Peru. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1957. Reiche, Maria. Mystery on the Desert. Stuttgart: Self-published, 1968. Simpson, Ruth DeEtte. The Hopi Indians. Los Angeles: Southwest Museum, 1953. Stephens, John Lloyd. Incidents of Travel in Yucatan. Vol. 1. 1841. Reprint, New York: Dover, 1963. Thomas, William L., ed. Mans Role in Changing the Face of the Earth. 2 vols. Edited in collaboration with Carl O. Sauer, Marston Bates, and Lewis Mumford. Chicago: University of Chicago Press for the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research and the National Science Foundation, 1956. Thompson, Edward Herbert. The People of the Serpent: Life and Adventure among the Mayas. New York: Capricorn Books, 1965. Von Hagen, Victor W. The Aztec: Man and Tribe. New York: New American Library, 1961. Waters, Frank. Masked Gods: Navaho and Pueblo Ceremonialism. New York: Ballantine Books, 1973. Wormington, H. M. Prehistoric Indians of the Southwest. Denver: Denver Museum of Natural History, 1947. Worsley, Peter. The Trumpet Shall Sound: A Study of Cargo Cults in Melanesia (2d ed.). New York: Schocken Books, 1968. Art and Architecture Ackerman, James S. The Architecture of Michelangelo. Baltimore: Penguin, 1971. Adams, Henry. Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres. New York: New American Library, 1961. Aldrich, Virgil C. Philosophy of Art. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1963. Arnheim, Rudolph. Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966.


Arnheim, Rudolph. Entropy and Art: An Essay on Disorder and Order. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971. Baglin, Douglass, and Barbara Mullins. Aboriginal Art of Australia. Belrose, NSW: Mulavon, 1972. Battcock, Gregory, ed. The New Art: A Critical Anthology. New York: Dutton, 1966. Bauer, Hermann. Il rococ tedesco nella Cattedrale di Weis. Milan: Fratelli Fabbri, 1965. Becher, Bernd, and Hilla Becher. Anonyme Skulpturen: Eine Typologie Technischer Bauten. Dsseldorf: Art-Press Verlag, 1970. Behrman, S. N. Duveen. New York: Vintage, 1952. Bell, Clive. Art. New York: Capricorn Books, 1958. Belli Barsali, Isa. European Enamels. London: Paul Hamlyn, 1966. Blunt, Anthony. Artistic Theory in Italy, 14501600. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962. Boatto, Alert, ed. Lichtenstein. Rome: Fantazaria, 1966. Bosman, Anthony. Hieronymus Bosch. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1962. Bosman, Anthony. Oskar Kokoschka. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1964. Bowie, Theodore, ed. The Arts of Thailand: A Handbook of the Architecture, Sculpture, and Painting of Thailand (Siam). Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1960. Bowness, Alan. Matisse and the Nude. New York: New American Library, 1968. Briganti, Guiliano. Italian Mannerism. Leipzig: VEB Verlag, 1962. Burnham, Sophy. The Art Crowd. New York: McKay, 1973. Calas, Nicolas. Confound the Wise. New York: Arrow Editions, 1942. Carli, Enzo. The Maest, Duccio di Buoninsegna. Milan: Martello, 1969. Carli, Enzo. Raffaello. Milan: Electa, 1952. Cassou, Jean. Art and Confrontation: The Arts in an Age of Change. Greenwich, CT: New York Graphic Society, 1968. Celant, Germano. Arte Povera. Milan: Gabriele Maggotta Editore, 1969. Clark, Kenneth. Landscape into Art. Boston: Beacon Press, 1961. Clark, Kenneth. The Nude: A Study in Ideal Form. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1956. Coletti, Luigi. Il Tintoretto. Bergamo: Instituto Italiano Darti Grafiche, [1944]. Combe, Jacquet. Jerome Bosch. Paris: Tisn; New York: Universe, 1957. Conant, Howard, ed. Seminar on Elementary and Secondary School Education in the Visual Arts: Report. New York: New York University Press, 1965.



Coomaraswamy, Ananda Kentish. The Dance of Shiva: Fourteen Indian Essays. New York: Noonday, 1957. Coomaraswamy, Ananda Kentish. The Transformation of Nature in Art. New York: Dover, 1934. Cremona, Carlo. I Peccati del Curato (2d ed.). Milan: Istituto di propaganda libraria, 1961. Creswell, K. A. C. A Short Account of Early Muslim Architecture. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1958. Daix, Pierre. Picasso. New York: Praeger, 1965. Delevoy, Robert L. Bruegel: Historical and Critical Study. Geneva: Skira, 1959. Didron, Adolphe Napolon. Christian Iconography, or The History of Christian Art in the Middle Ages. Vol. 2. London: Bell, 1891. Dietterlin, Wendel. The Fantastic Engravings of Wendel Dietterlin. Introduction by Adolf K. Placzek. New York: Dover, 1968. Duchamp, Marcel. The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even. A Typographic Version by Richard Hamilton of Marcel Duchamps Green Box. New York: Wittenborn, 1960. Eastlake, Charles Lock, Sir. Methods and Materials of Painting of the Great Schools and Masters. New York: Dover, 1960. Ecology in Design. Philadelphia: Graduate School of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania, 1968. Egbert, Donald Drew. Socialism and American Art in the Light of European Utopianism, Marxism, and Anarchism. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967. Ehrenzweig, Anton. The Hidden Order of Art: A Study in the Psychology of Artistic Imagination. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971. Eiseley, Loren. The Invisible Pyramid. New York: Scribner, 1970. Fischer, Ernst. Art against Ideology. New York: Braziller, 1969. Fischer, Ernst. The Necessity of Art: A Marxist Approach. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1963. Fowlie, Wallace. Age of Surrealism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1960. Fox, Helen M. Andr Le Ntre, Garden Architect to Kings. New York: Crown, 1962. Franger, Wilhelm. The Millennium of Hieronymus Bosch: Outlines of a New Interpretation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951. Friedman, B. H. Jackson Pollock: Energy Made Visible. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1972. Galli di Bibiena, Guiseppe. Architectural and Perspective Designs Dedicated to His Majesty Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor. New York: Dover, 1964. Gauguin, Paul. Paul Gauguins Intimate Journals. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1949. Genaille, Robert. Rembrandt: Self-Portraits. New York: Tudor, 1963. Ghyka, Matila. The Geometry of Art and Life. New York: Sheed & Ward, 1966.


Gins, Madeline. Word Rain: Or, A Discursive Introduction to the Intimate Philosophical Investigation of G, R, E, T, A, G, A, R, B, O, It Says. New York: Grossman, 1969. Girouard, Mark. Robert Smythson and the Architecture of the Elizabethan Era. South Brunswick, NJ: Barnes, 1967. Goldscheider, Ludwig. Michelangelo: Paintings, Sculptures, Architecture. London: Phaidon, 1954. Grant, Campbell. Rock Art of the American Indian. New York: Crowell, 1967. Greenberg, Clement. Art and Culture. Boston: Beacon Press, 1961. Grnewald, Matthias. Grnewald: Le Retable dIssenheim. Paris: Les ditions Braun, 1951. Halverson, Marvin. Great Religious Paintings. New York: Abrams, 1954. Hamilton, George Heard. Manet and His Critics. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1954. Harris, Neil. The Artist in American Society: The Formative Years, 17901860. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1970. Hauser, Arnold. Mannerism: The Crisis of the Renaissance and the Origin of Modern Art. 2 vols. Translated by Erich Mosbacher in collaboration with the author. New York: Knopf, 1965. Hauser, Arnold. The Social History of Art. 4 vols. New York: Vintage, 1958. Hayes, Bartlett H. The Naked Truth and Personal Vision: A Discussion about the Length of the Artistic Road. Andover, MA: Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, 1955. Helwig, Werner. Di Chirico: Metaphysical Paintings. New York: Tudor, 1962. Herdeg, Walter. The Sun in Art: Sun Symbolism, from the Past to the Present, in Pagan and Christian Art, Popular Art, Fine Art and Applied Art. Zurich: Graphics Press, 1962. Hess, Thomas, ed. The Grand Eccentrics: Five Centuries of Artists Outside the Main Currents of Art History. New York: Macmillan, 1966. Hillier, Bevis. Art Deco of the 20s and 30s. London: Studio Vista; New York: Dutton, 1968. Hirsch, Wolfgang, ed. Hieronymus Bosch: The Garden of Delights. London: Longmans, Green, 1954. Holt, Elizabeth Basye Gilmore. The Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Vol. 2 of A Documentary History of Art. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1957. Hughes, Robert. Heaven and Hell in Western Art. New York: Stein & Day, 1968. Hunter, Sam. American Art of the 20th Century: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture. New York: Abrams, 1973. Huysmans, J. K., and Eberhard Ruhmer. Grnewald, the Paintings: Complete Edition with Two Essays. New York: Phaidon, 1958. Irwin, David. English Neoclassical Art: Studies in Inspiration and Taste. Greenwich, CT: New York Graphic Society, 1966. Ivins, William M. How Prints Look: Photographs with a Commentary. Boston: Beacon Press, 1958.



Kainz, Friedrich. Aesthetics, the Science. Translated by Herbert M. Schueller. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1962. Kayser, Wolfgang. The Grotesque in Art and Literature. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966. Kepes, Gyorgy, ed. Module, Proportion, Symmetry, Rhythm. New York: Braziller, 1966. Kimball, Fiske. The Creation of the Rococo. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1943. Reprint, New York: Norton, 1964. Klingender, Francis D. Art and the Industrial Revolution. New York: Schocken Books, 1970. Krauss, Rosalind. Terminal Iron Works: The Sculpture of David Smith. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1971. Kubler, George. The Shape of Time: Remarks on the History of Things. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1962. Lampitt, L. F. Bluff Your Way in Art. London: Wolfe, 1967. Land Art: Fernsehgalerie Gerry Schum, Television Gallery (2nd ed.). Hanover: Hartwig Popp, 1970. Lassaigne, Jacques. Matisse: Biographical and Critical Study. Geneva: Skira, 1959. Lebel, Robert. Marcel Duchamp. Translated by George Heard Hamilton. New York: Paragraphic Books, 1959. Lee, Sherman E., and George Montgomery. Rajput Painting. New York: Asia Society, 1960. Lees-Milne, James. Baroque in Italy. New York: Macmillan, 1960. Leonardo, Da Vinci. The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci. Selected by Pamela Taylor. New York: New American Library, 1960. Lindsay, Jack. J. M. W. Turner, His Life and Work: A Critical Biography. New York: Harper & Row, 1966. Lippard, Lucy R. Changing: Essays in Art Criticism. New York: Dutton, 1971. Lippard, Lucy R. Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972. New York: Praeger, 1973. LOrme, Philibert de, and L. Brion-Guerry. Philibert de LOrme, 15101570. New York: Universe, 1960. Macaulay, Rose. Pleasure of Ruins. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1953. Reprint, New York: Walker & Co., 1967. Mle, mile. Religious Art from the Twelfth to the Eighteenth Century. New York: Noonday, 1958. Maritain, Jacquet. Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry. New York: Meridian Books, 1955. Masson, Georgina. Italian Gardens. New York: Abrams, 1961. McDarrah, Fred W. The Artists World in Pictures. New York: Dutton, 1961.


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Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Selected Writings. Edited by William H. Gilman. New York: New American Library, 1965. The Epic of Gilgamesh. Introduction by N. K. Sandars. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1960. Everson, William. The Residual Years, Poems 19341948. The Precatholic Poetry of Brother Antonius. New York: New Directions, 1968. Fairmont, Ethel. Rhymes for Kindly Children. (rev. ed.). New York: The Wise-Parslow Company, 1972. Firbank, Ronald. Two Novels: The Flower beneath the Foot, Prancing Nigger. New York: New Directions, 1962. Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 1953. Flaubert, Gustave. Bibliomania: A Tale. London: Rodale Press. Reprint Emmaus, PA: Rodale Books, 1954. Flaubert, Gustave. Bouvard and Pcuchet. Translated by T. W. Earp and G. W. Stonier. Norfolk, CT: New Directions, 1954. Flaubert, Gustave. Collected Works of Gustave Flaubert. New York: Greystone Press, n.d. Flaubert, Gustave. Flauberts Dictionary of Accepted Ideas. Translated by Jacques Barzun. Norfolk, CT: New Directions, 1954. Flaubert, Gustave. Intimate Notebook, 18401841. Translated by Francis Steegmuller. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1967. Flaubert, Gustave. Madame Bovary. Translated by Lowell Bair. New York: Bantam Books, 1959. Flaubert, Gustave. Sentimental Education. New York: New Directions Paperback, 1957. Ford, Ford Madox. The Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion. New York: Vintage, 1951. Fox, Gardner F. Thief of Llarn. New York: Ace Books, 1966. Frayn, Michael. Against Entropy. New York: Viking Press, 1967. Frayn, Michael. A Very Private Life. New York: Viking Press, 1968. Gaddis, Vincent. Invisible Horizons. New York: Ace Books, 1965. Gardner, Helen, ed. The Metaphysical Poets. Baltimore: Penguin, 1966. Gassner, John, ed. A Treasury of the Theatre: From Henrik Ibsen to Eugne Ionesco. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1960; distributed by Holt, Rinehart & Winston. Genet, Jean. Funeral Rites. Translated by Bernard Frechtman. New York: Grove Press, 1969. Genet, Jean. The Screens, A Play in Seventeen Scenes. Translated by Bernard Frechtman. New York: Grove Press, 1962. Gide, Andr. If It Die: An Autobiography. Translated by Dorothy Bussy. New York: Vintage, 1963. Gide, Andr. The Immoralist. Translated by Dorothy Bussy. New York: Vintage, 1958.


Gide, Andr. Lafcadios Adventures. New York: Vintage, 1953. Gide, Andr. Strait Is the Gate. Translated by Dorothy Bussy. New York: Vintage, 1924. Gide, Andr. Travels in the Congo. Translated by Dorothy Bussy. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1962. Girodias, Maurice, ed. The Best of Olympia: An Anthology of Tales, Poems, Scientific Documents and Tricks which Appeared in the Short-lived and Much Lamented Olympia Magazine. London: New English Library, Ltd., 1966. Girodias, Maurice. The Olympia Reader. New York: Ballantine Books, 1965. Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. New York: Capricorn Books, 1959. Grass, Gnter. The Tin Drum. Translated by Ralph Manheim. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett, 1964. Greene, Graham. The End of the Affair. New York: Bantam Books, 1955. Greene, Graham. Nineteen Stories. New York: Bantam Books, 1960. Hammett, Dashiell. The Big Knockover: Selected Stories and Short Novels. New York: Vintage, 1972. Hamsun, Knut. Pan: From Lieutenant Thomas Glahns Papers. Translated by James W. McFarlane. New York: Noonday, 1969. Harrack, Jim. Dissolving. Covina, CA: Collectors, 1967. Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The House of the Seven Gables. New York: Dell, 1960. Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Marble Faun Or the Romance of Monte Beni. New York: New American Library, 1961. Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1960. Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom the Bell Tolls. New York: Bantam Books, 1951. Hemingway, Ernest. Winner Take Nothing. New York: Scribner, 1961. Holt, Victoria. The Legend of the Seventh Virgin. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1965. Homer. The Iliad. Translated by Alston Hurd Chase and William G. Perry, Jr. New York: Bantam Books, 1950. Hopkins, Gerard Manley. Poems and Prose. Baltimore: Penguin, 1960. Huysmans, J. K. Against Nature. Translated by Robert Baldrick. Baltimore: Penguin, 1959. Ionesco, Eugne. Notes and Counter Notes: Writings on the Theatre. Translated by Donald Watson. New York: Grove Press, 1964. James, Henry. The Madonna of the Future and Other Early Stories. New York: New American Library, 1962. James, Henry. The Marriages and Other Stories. New York: New American Library, 1961. Jarry, Alfred. Selected Works of Alfred Jarry. Edited by Roger Shattuck and Simon Watson Taylor. New York: Grove Press, 1965.



Jones, David. In Parenthesis. New York: Viking Press, 1961. Joseph, M. K. The Hole in the Zero. New York: Avon, 1967. Joyce, James. Finnegans Wake. New York: Viking Press, 1959. Knight, Damon. Beyond the Barrier. New York: MacFadden Books, 1963. Knight, Damon, ed. Cities of Wonder. New York: MacFadden-Bartell, 1967. Knight, Damon, ed. Thirteen French Science-Fiction Stories. New York: Bantam Books, 1965. Kops, Bernard. The Dream of Peter Mann. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1960. Kostelanetz, Richard, ed. Twelve from the Sixties. New York: Dell, 1967. Langland, William. Piers the Ploughman. Translated into modern English with an introduction by J. F. Goodridge. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1959. Laughlin, James, ed. New Directions in Prose and Poetry, Number 11. New York: New Directions, 1949. Laumer, Keith. The Other Side of Time. New York: Berkley, 1965. Laurence, Margaret. The Stone Angel. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Ltd., 1968. Lawrence, D. H. The Virgin and the Gipsy. New York: Bantam Books, 1968. Lawrence, D. H. The Woman Who Rode Away and Other Stories. New York: Berkley, 1962. Le Clzio, J. M. G. Fever. Translated by Daphne Woodward. New York: Atheneum, 1968. Le Clzio, J. M. G. The Flood. Translated by Peter Green. New York: Atheneum, 1968. Leduc, Violette. Mad in Pursuit. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1971. Leopardi, Giacomo. Poems and Prose. Edited by Angel Flores. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1966. Lewis, Sinclair. Babbitt. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1922. Lewis, Sinclair. Main Street. New York: New American Library, 1961. Lewis, Wyndham. A Soldier of Humor and Selected Writings. New York: New American Library, 1966. Lowry, Malcolm. Dark as the Grave Wherein My Friend Is Laid. New York: Meridian Books, 1969. Lowry, Malcolm. Hear Us O Lord from Heaven Thy Dwelling Place. New York: Capricorn Books, 1969. Lowry, Malcolm. Under the Volcano. New York: New American Library, 1966. Mailer, Norman. Cannibals and Christians. New York: Dell, 1966. Malamud, Bernard. Pictures of Fidelman: An Exhibition. New York: Dell, 1970. Mallarm, Stphane. Mallarm. Edited by Anthony Hartley. Baltimore: Penguin, 1965.


Mallarm, Stphane. Selected Poems. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1957. Marks, Elaine, ed. French Poetry from Baudelaire to the Present, with English Prose Translations. New York: Dell, 1962. Marlowe, Christopher. The Tragedy of Doctor Faustus. New York: Washington Square Press, 1959. Marsh, Ngaio. Artists in Crime. New York: Berkley, 1963. Mathews, Harry. Tlooth. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1966. Maugham, W. Somerset. The Razors Edge. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran, 1944. Maupassant, Guy de. The Complete Short Stories of Guy De Maupassant: Ten Volumes in One. New York: Walter J. Black, Inc., 1903. McCarthy, Mary. Cast a Cold Eye. New York: New American Library, 1963. McCarthy, Mary. The Group. New York: New American Library, 1964. McCarthy, Mary. Memories of a Catholic Girlhood. New York: Berkley, 1963. McCarthy, Mary. On the Contrary. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Cudahy, 1961. Merton, Thomas. The Strange Islands, Poems. New York: New Directions, 1957. Milton, John. Milton: Poems and Selected Prose. Edited and introduced by Marjorie Hope Nicolson. New York: Bantam Books, 1962. Musil, Robert. The Man without Qualities. Translated by Eithne Wilkins and Ernst Kaiser. New York: Capricorn Books, 1965. Nabokov, Vladimir. Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1969. Nabokov, Vladimir. Despair: A Novel. New York: Putnam, 1966. Nabokov, Vladimir. The Eye. New York: Pocket Books, 1966. Nabokov, Vladimir. The Gift: A Novel. Translated by Michael Scammell with the collaboration of the author. New York: Putnam, 1963. Nabokov, Vladimir. Invitation to a Beheading. New York: Capricorn Books, 1965. Nabokov, Vladimir. Nabokovs Congeries. Selected by Page Stegner. New York: Viking Press, 1968. Nabokov, Vladimir. Nabokovs Dozen. New York: Popular Library, 1958. Nabokov, Vladimir. Pale Fire (2nd ed.). New York: Lancer Books, 1966. Nabokov, Vladimir. Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited. New York: Pyramid Books, 1966. Nabokov, Vladimir. The Waltz Invention: A Play in Three Acts. New York: Pocket Books, 1967. Nin, Anas. The Diary of Anas Nin, 19341939. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1967. OConnor, Flannery. Everything That Rises Must Converge. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1965. Paz, Octavio. Eagle or Sun? Translated by Eliot Weinberger. New York: October House, 1970.



Perreault, John. Luck. New York: Kulchur Press, 1969. Pinget, Robert. The Inquisitory. Translated by Donald Watson. New York: Grove Press, 1966. Pinget, Robert. Mahu, or, the Material: A Novel. Translated by Alan Sheridan-Smith. London: Calder and Boyars, 1966. Plath, Sylvia. Ariel. New York: Harper & Row, 1966. Plath, Sylvia. The Bell Jar. London: Faber, 1963. Podhoretz, Norman. Making It. New York: Random House, 1967. Poe, Edgar Allan. Complete Poems. New York: Dell, 1962. Poe, Edgar Allan. The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe. New York: Modern Library, 1938. Poe, Edgar Allan. Representative Selections, with Introduction, Bibliography, and Notes. Edited by Margaret Alterton and Hardin Craig. New York: Hill and Wang, 1962. Poe, Edgar Allan. Tales of the Grotesque and the Arabesque. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, n.d. Pope, Alexander. The Complete Poetical Works of Alexander Pope. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1931. Pound, Ezra. The Cantos of Ezra Pound. New York: New Directions, 1948. Pynchon, Thomas. The Crying of Lot 49. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1966. Ratcliff, Carter. Fever Coast. New York: Kulchur Foundation, 1973. Rage, Pauline. Return to the Chteau, Preceded by A Girl in Love. New York: Grove Press, 1971. Rage, Pauline. The Story of O. New York: Grove Press, 1967. Rechy, John. City of Night. New York: Grove Press, 1963. Rechy, John. Numbers. New York: Grove Press, 1967. Rimbaud, Arthur. A Season in Hell. Translated by Louise Varse. Norfolk, CT: New Directions, 1952. Robbe-Grillet, Alain. The Erasers. Translated by Richard Howard. New York: Grove Press, 1964. Robbe-Grillet, Alain. La Maison de Rendez-Vous. Translated by Richard Howard. New York: Grove Press, 1967. Robbe-Grillet, Alain. Snapshots. Translated by Bruce Morrissette. New York: Grove Press, 1968. Robbe-Grillet, Alain. The Voyeur. Translated by Richard Howard. New York: Grove Press, 1958. Sade, Marquis de. Justine, Philosophy in the Bedroom, and Other Writings. Edited and translated by Richard Seaver and Austryn Wainhouse. Introductions by Jean Paulhan and Maurice Blanchot. New York: Grove Press, 1966. Sarraute, Nathalie. Between Life and Death. Translated by Maria Jolas. New York: Braziller, 1969. Sarraute, Nathalie. The Golden Fruits. Translated by Maria Jolas. New York: Braziller, 1964. Sarraute, Nathalie. Tropisms. Translated by Maria Jolas. New York: Braziller, 1963.


Sartre, Jean-Paul. Nausea. Translated by Lloyd Alexander. Introduction by Hayden Carruth. Norfolk, CT: New Directions, 1964. Shakespeare, William. The Complete Sonnets, Songs and Poems of William Shakespeare. Edited and introduction by Henry W. Simon. New York: Washington Square Press, 1960. Shakespeare, William. Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Cleveland: World Syndicate, 1930. Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark. New York: The Pocket Library, 1958. Shaw, George Bernard. Saint Joan. Baltimore: Penguin, 1946. Sheed, Wilfrid. The Hack. New York: Macmillan, 1963. Sitwell, Osbert. Noble Essences: A Book of Characters. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1950. Smith, Clark Ashton. Hyperborea. New York: Ballantine Books, 1971. Southern, Terry, and Mason Hoffenberg. Candy: A Novel. New York: Putnam, 1964. Spencer, Hazelton, Walter E. Houghton, and Herbert Barrows, eds. British Literature from Blake to the Present Day. Boston: Heath, 1952. Spender, Stephen, ed. Great German Short Stories. New York: Dell, 1960. Stein, Gertrude. The Making of Americans: The Hersland Family. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1962. Stendhal. The Charterhouse of Parma. Translated by Lowell Bair. New York: The Pocket Library, 1958. Stifter, Adalbert. Limestone and Other Stories. Translated by David Luke. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1968. Stone, Irving. Lust for Life, The Story of Vincent Van Gogh. New York: Pocket Books, 1963. Swift, Jonathan. Gullivers Travels. New York: New American Library, 1960. Tales of the Incredible. New York: Ballantine Books, 1965. Tanner, Edward Everett. Little Me: The Intimate Memoirs of That Great Star of Stage, Screen, and Television, Belle Poitrine. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett, 1961. Tennyson, Alfred Lord. Idylls of the King and a Selection of Poems. New York: New American Library, 1961. Tomasi di Lampedusa, Giuseppe. The Leopard. Translated by Archibald Colquhoun. New York: New American Library, 1961. Updike, John. Pigeon Feathers and Other Stories. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett, 1963. Updike, John. The Same Door. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett, 1964. Ure, Peter, ed. Seventeenth Century Prose, 16201700. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1956. Valry, Paul. Monsieur Teste. Translated by Jackson Mathews. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964. Valry, Paul. Selected Writings. New York: New Directions, 1964.



Vance, Jack. The Dying Earth. New York: Lancer Books, 1950. Vance, Jack. The Killing Machine. New York: Berkley, 1964. Van Vogt, A. E. The Players of Null-A. New York: Berkley, 1948. Verne, Jules. From Earth to the Moon. New York: Airmont, 1967. Vidal, Gore. Myra Breckinridge. New York: Bantam Books, 1968. Vidal, Gore. Sex, Death and Money. New York: Bantam Books, 1968. Virgil. The Aeneid. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1956. Virgil. Virgils Works: Aeneid, Eoloques, Georgics. New York: Modern Library, 1934. Viva. Superstar. New York: Putnam, 1970. Voltaire. Candide. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1956. Wagner, Richard. The Ring of Nibelung. Translated by Stewart Robb. New York: Dutton, 1960. Warren, Robert Penn, and Albert Erskine, eds. Short Story Masterpieces. New York: Dell, 1954. Waugh, Evelyn. A Handful of Dust and Decline and Fall. New York: Dell, 1962. Waugh, Evelyn. Men at Arms and Officers and Gentlemen. New York: Dell, 1961. Waugh, Evelyn. Vile Bodies. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930. Webster, Frank V. Tom the Telephone Boy: Or, The Mystery of a Message. New York: Cupples & Leon, 1909. Wells, Carolyn, ed. A Nonsense Anthology. New York: Dover, 1958. Wells, H. G. The First Men in the Moon. New York: Berkley, 1967. Wells, H. G. The Invisible Man and The War of the Worlds. New York: Washington Square Press, 1962. Wells, H. G. The Island of Doctor Moreau. New York: Berkley, 1964. Wells, H. G. The Time Machine. Berkley, 1960. West, Nathanael. The Complete Works of Nathanael West. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Cudahy, 1957. West, Nathanael. Miss Lonelyhearts. New York: Avon, 1959. Wilde, Oscar. The Comedies of Oscar Wilde. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1959. Wilde, Oscar. Plays. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1958. Williams, William Carlos. Kora in Hell, Improvisations. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1957. Wilson, Angus. A Bit Off the Map, and Other Stories. New York: Viking, 1957. Wolfe, Bernard. Limbo. New York: Ace, 1952.


Wolfe, Tom. The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1965. Woolf, Virginia. A Room of Ones Own. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1967. Wurlitzer, Rudolph. Flats. New York: Dutton, 1970. Wurlitzer, Rudolph. Nog. New York: Random House, 1968. Wurlitzer, Rudolph. Quake. New York: Dutton, 1972. Yeats, William Butler. Selected Poems and Two Plays of William Butler Yeats. Edited by M. L. Rosenthal. New York: Collier Books, 1966. Yeats, William Butler. A Vision. New York: Collier Books, 1966. Zamiatin, Evgenii Ivanovich. The Dragon: Fifteen Stories. Edited and translated by Mirra Ginsburg. New York: Vintage, 1968. Zamiatin, Evgenii Ivanovich. A Soviet Heretic. Edited and translated by Mirra Ginsburg. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970. Film Alloway, Lawrence. Violent America: The Movies 19461964. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1971. Armes, Roy. The Cinema of Alain Resnais. New York: Barnes, 1968. Armes, Roy. French Cinema since 1946. 2 vols. New York: Barnes, 1970. Battcock, Gregory, ed. The New American Cinema: A Critical Anthology. New York: Dutton, 1967. Beckett, Samuel. Film. New York: Grove Press, 1969. Cameron, Ian, ed. The Films of Robert Bresson. New York: Praeger, 1970. Cameron, Ian, ed. Movie Reader. London: November Books, 1972. Clarens, Carlos. An Illustrated History of the Horror Film. New York: Putnam, 1967. Collet, Jean. Jean-Luc Godard. New York: Crown, 1970. Cowie, Peter, ed. International Film Guide 1971. New York: Barnes, 1971. Durgnat, Raymond. Franju. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967. Durgnat, Raymond. Nouvelle Vague: The First Decade. Loughton: Motion; New York: Cinema House, 1963. Eisenstein, Sergei. Film Form: Essays in Film Theory. Edited and translated by Jay Leyda. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1949. Gophered, Denis. Science Fiction Film. London: Studio Vista; New York: Dutton, 1971. Halliwell, Leslie. The Filmgoers Companion. Foreword by Alfred Hitchcock. New York: Avon, 1971.



Highham, Charles, and Joel Greenberg. Hollywood in the Forties. New York: Paperback Library, 1970. Hughes, Robert, ed. The Audience and the Filmmaker. New York: Grove Press, 1959. Jacobs, Lewis, ed. The Documentary Tradition: From Nanook to Woodstock. New York: Hopkinson and Blake, 1971. Kracauer, Siegfried. Theory of Film: The Redemption of Physical Reality. New York: Oxford University Press, 1960. Lawson, John Howard. Film: The Creative Process; The Search for an Audio-visual Language and Structure (2nd ed.). New York: Hill and Wang, 1967. Miller, Arthur E., and Walter Strenge, eds. American Cinematographer Manual (3rd ed.). Hollywood: American Society of Cinematographers, [1969]. Milne, Tom, and Jean Narboni. Godard on Godard: Critical Writings. New York: Viking Press, 1972. Robbe-Grillet, Alain. Last Year at Marienbad. Text by Alain Robbe-Grillet, for the film by Alain Resnais. Translated by Richard Howard. Picture edited by Robert Hughes. New York: Grove Press, 1962. Roud, Richard. Godard. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1968. Sarris, Andrew. Interviews with Film Directors. New York: Avon, 1967. Seton, Marie. Sergei M. Eisenstein: A Biography. New York: Grove Press, 1960. Sitney, P. Adams, ed. Film Culture Reader. New York: Praeger, 1970. Thompson, Howard, ed. The New York Times Guide to Movies on TV. Chicago: Quadrangle Books; distributed by Random House, 1970. Truffaut, Franois. Hitchcock. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1967. Tyler, Parker. Classics of Foreign Film: A Pictorial Treasury. New York: Citadel Press, 1967. Ward, John. Alain Resnais: Or, the Theme of Time. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1968. Wood, Robin. Hitchcocks Films (2nd ed.). London: Zwemmer; New York: Barnes, 1969. Wood, Robin, and Michael Walker. Claude Chabrol. New York: Praeger, 1970. Youngblood, Gene. Expanded Cinema. New York: Dutton, 1970. History Acton, Lord. Lectures on Modern History. New York: Meridian Books, 1961. Adams, Brooks. The Law of Civilization and Decay: An Essay on History. New York: Vintage, 1959. Adams, John Quincy. The Great Design: Two Lectures on the Smithson Bequest. Edited and introduction by Wilcomb E. Washburn. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1965. Allen, Ethan. The Narrative of Colonel Ethan Allen. New York: Corinth Books, 1961.


An, Tai Sung. Mao Tse-Tungs Cultural Revolution. Indianapolis: Pegasus, 1972. Bede, the Venerable, Saint. A History of the English Church and People. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1955. Bernal, Ignacio. Mexico before Cortez: Art, History, Legend. Translated by Willis Barnstone. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1963. Black, Edgar. Sir Winston Churchill. Derby, CT: Monarch Books, 1961. Boorstin, Daniel J. The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-events in America. New York: Harper & Row, 1961. Cash, W. J. The Mind of the South. New York: Vintage, 1960. Cassells History of England. Jubilee edition. 8 vols. London: Cassell & Co., [188?]1895. Cohn, Norman. The Pursuit of the Millennium. New York: Harper, 1961. Combs, Barry. Westward toward Promontory: Building the Union Pacific across the Plains and Mountains, A Pictorial Documentary. Palo Alto, CA: American West, 1969. Cunliffe, Marcus. George Washington: Man and Monument. New York: New American Library, 1958. Dreyer, J. L. E. Tycho Brahe: A Picture of Scientific Life and Work in the Sixteenth Century. New York: Dover, 1963. Ehrlich, Paul R. The Population Bomb. New York: Ballantine Books, 1968. Emery, W. B. Archaic Egypt. Baltimore: Penguin, 1963. The Exploding Metropolis. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1958. Grousset, Ren. The Rise and Splendor of the Chinese Empire. Translated by Anthony WatsonGandy and Terence Gordon. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1958. Hansen, Harry. The Civil War. New York: New American Library, 1961. Harrington, Michael. The Accidental Century. Baltimore: Penguin, 1965. Jackson, John Brinckerhoff. American Space, The Centennial Years 18651876. New York: Norton, 1972. Jones, Charles, and Eugene Jones. The Face of War. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1951. Jones, Howard Mumford. The Age of Energy: Varieties of American Experience, 18651915. New York: Viking Press, 1971. Keenan, Alan. The Phoenix of the West: A Study in Pogrom. London: Campion Press; New York: Taplinger, 1961. Koestler, Arthur. The Watershed: A Biography of Johannes Kepler. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1960. Lawrence, T. E. Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph. New York: Dell, 1962. Mailer, Norman. Of a Fire on the Moon. New York: New American Library, 1970.



Mason, Ernst. Tiberius. New York: Ballantine Books, 1960. Mitford, Nancy. Madame De Pompadour. London: Reprint Society, 1955. Morris, Charles, ed. The San Francisco Calamity by Earthquake and Fire. N.p., 1906. Nehemkis, Peter. Latin America: Myth and Reality. New York: New American Library, 1966. Neumann, Robert. The Pictorial History of the Third Reich. New York: Bantam Books, 1962. Nock, Albert Jay. Jefferson. New York: Hill and Wang, 1926. Nohl, Johnannes. The Black Death: A Chronicle of the Plague. Translated by C. H. Clarke. New York: Ballantine Books, 1960. Parry, J. H. The Age of Reconnaissance. New York: New American Library, 1963. Pirenne, Henri. From the Thirteenth Century to the Renaissance and Reformation. Vol. 2 of A History of Europe. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1956. Revel, Jean Franois. Without Marx or Jesus: The New American Revolution Has Begun. Translated by J. F. Bernard. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1971. Runciman, Steven. Byzantine Civilization. Cleveland: Meridian Books, 1956. Saint-Simon, Louis de Rouvroy. The Age of Magnificence: The Memoirs of the Duc de Saint-Simon. Translated by Sanche de Gramont. New York: Capricorn Books, 1963. Sorokin, Pitirim Aleksandrovich. The Crisis of Our Age: The Social and Cultural Outlook. New York: Dutton, 1941. Suetonius Tranquillus, C. The Twelve Caesars. Translated by Robert Graves. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1957. Tacitus, Cornelius. The Complete Works of Tacitus. New York: Modern Library, 1942. Tawney, R. H. Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, A Historical Study. New York: New American Library, 1961. Trevor-Roper, H. B. The Last Days of Hitler. New York: Berkley, 1947. Wertenbaker, Thomas Jefferson. The Puritan Oligarchy: The Founding of American Civilization. New York: Scribners Sons, 1947. Wolff, Leon. In Flanders Fields: The 1917 Campaign. New York: Ballantine Books, 1958. Wood, Elizabeth Lambert. The Tragedy of the Powers Mine, An Arizona Story. Portland: Binfords & Mort, 1957. Linguistics Burke, Kenneth. Language as Symbolic Action: Essays on Life, Literature and Method. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968. Carnap, Rudolf. The Logical Syntax of Language. New York: Littlefield, Adams, 1959. Cavell, Stanley. Must We Mean What We Say? A Book of Essays. New York: Scribner, 1970.


Cherry, Colin. On Human Communication. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1957. Ellul, Jacques. A Critique of the New Commonplaces. Translated by Helen Weaver. New York: Knopf, 1968. Empson, William. The Structure of Complex Words. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1967. Horapollo. Hieroglyphics of Horapollo. Translated by George Boas. New York: Pantheon Books, 1950. Johnson, Alexander Bryan. A Treatise on Language. Edited by David Rynin. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1959. Pierce, John Robinson. Symbols, Signals, and Noise: The Nature and Process of Communication. New York: Harper & Row, 1965. Thass-Thienemann, Theodore. The Subconscious Language. New York: Washington Square Press, 1967. Thompson, John Eric Sidney. Maya Hieroglyphic Writing: An Introduction. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1960. Wieger, Lon. Chinese Characters. New York: Dover, 1965. Literary and Cultural Criticism Adams, Robert Martin. Nil: Episodes in the Literary Conquest of the Void during the Nineteenth Century. New York: Oxford University Press, 1966. Arnold, Matthew. Culture and Anarchy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1960. Barfield, Owen. Poetic Diction: A Study in Meaning. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964. Barrenechea, Ana Maria. Borges, the Labyrinth Maker. New York: New York University Press, 1965. Barthes, Roland. Elements of Semiology. Translated by Annette Lavers and Colin Smith. New York: Hill and Wang, 1968. Barthes, Roland. Writing Degree Zero. Translated by Annette Lavers and Colin Smith. New York: Hill and Wang, 1968. Beckett, Samuel. Proust. New York: Grove Press, 1957. Beckett, Samuel, Georges Duthuit, and Jacques Putman. Bram Van Velde. Translated by Olive Classe and Samuel Beckett. New York: Grove Press, 1960. Benjamin, Walter. Illuminations. Edited and by Hannah Arendt. Translated by Harry Zohn. New York: Schocken Books, 1969. Benstock, Bernard. Joyce-Agains Wake: An Analysis of Finnegans Wake. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1965. Blau, Herbert. The Impossible Theater: A Manifesto. New York: Collier Books, 1965. Bloch, Iwan. Marquis de Sade: His Life and Works. N.p.: Brittany Press, 1948.



Braybrooke, Neville. T. S. Eliot: A Critical Essay. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1967. Brombert, Victor H. The Novels of Flaubert: A Study of Themes and Techniques. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966. Brooke, Jocelyn. Ronald Firbank. London: Barker, 1951. Buchanan, Scott. Poetry and Mathematics. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1962. Buckley, Jerome Hamilton. The Triumph of Time: A Study of the Victorian Concepts of Time, History, Progress, and Decadence. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1966. Burgin, Richard. Conversations with Jorge Luis Borges. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1969. Christ, Ronald. The Narrow Act: Borges Art of Allusion. New York: New York University Press, 1969. Christie, John Aldrich. Thoreau as World Traveler. New York: Columbia University Press, 1965. Clareson, Thomas D., ed. SF: The Other Side of Realism. Bowling Green: Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1971. Coburn, Kathleen, ed. Coleridge: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1967. Cowley, Malcolm. Exiles Return: A Literary Odyssey of the 1920s. New York: Viking Press, 1956. The Critical Moment: Literary Criticism in the 1960s. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964. Dembo, L. S., ed. Nabokov: The Man and His Work. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1967. Eliot, T. S. Essays on Elizabethan Drama. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1956. Eliot, T. S. The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism. London: Methuen, 1967. Empson, William. Seven Types of Ambiguity. New York: New Directions, n.d. Empson, William. Some Versions of Pastoral. New York: New Directions, 1960. Enck, John J. Jonson and the Comic Truth. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1966. Engelberg, Edward. The Symbolist Poem: The Development of the English Tradition. New York: Dutton, 1967. Epstein, Pearl S. The Private Labyrinth of Malcolm Lowry: Under the Volcano and the Cabbala. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1969. Esslin, Martin, ed. Samuel Beckett: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: PrenticeHall, 1965. Esslin, Martin. The Theatre of the Absurd. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1961. Fiedler, Leslie A. Love and Death in the American Novel (rev. ed.). New York: Dell, 1966. Field, Andrew. Nabokov, His Life in Art: A Critical Narrative. Boston: Little, Brown, 1967. Freedman, Ralph. The Lyrical Novel: Studies in Hermann Hesse, Andr Gide, and Virginia Woolf. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1963.


Friedman, Melvin J., ed. Samuel Beckett Now: Critical Approaches to His Novels, Poetry, and Plays. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970. Frye, Northrop. Fearful Symmetry: A Study of William Blake. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969. Gardener, Helen. The Art of T. S. Eliot. New York: Dutton, 1959. Gilbert, Stuart. James Joyces Ulysses: A Study. New York: Vintage, 1960. Giraud, Raymond, ed. Flaubert: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1964. Goldmann, Lucien. The Hidden God: A Study of Tragic Vision in the Penses of Pascal and the Tragedies of Racine. Translated by Philip Thody. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1964. Harrison, John. The Reactionaries: A Study of the Anti-Democratic Intelligentsia. New York: Schocken Books, 1967. Harvey, Lawrence E. Samuel Beckett: Poet and Critic. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1970. Hayman, Ronald. Samuel Beckett. London: Heinemann, 1969. Heppenstall, Rayner. Leon Bloy. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1954. Hoffman, Frederick J. Samuel Beckett: The Language of Self. New York: Dutton, 1964. Holland, Norman N. The First Modern Comedies: The Significance of Etherege, Wycherley, and Congreve. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1959. Honig, Edwin. Dark Conceit: The Making of Allegory. New York: Oxford University Press, 1966. Hunt, John Dixon, ed. Encounters: Essays on Literature and the Visual Arts. New York: Norton, 1971. Hytier, Jean. Andr Gide. Translated by Richard Howard. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1962. Hytier, Jean. The Poetics of Paul Valry. Translated by Richard Howard. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1966. Jacobsen, Josephine, and William R. Mueller. The Testament of Samuel Beckett. New York: Hill and Wang, 1964. Karl, Frederick R. A Readers Guide to Joseph Conrad. New York: Noonday, 1960. Kenner, Hugh. Samuel Beckett: A Critical Study. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968. Kenner, Hugh, ed. T. S. Eliot: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1962. Kermode, Frank. Romantic Image. New York: Vintage, 1957. Kermode, Frank. The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction. New York: Oxford University Press, 1967. Klein, Marcus, ed. The American Novel since World War II. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett, 1969.



Knapp, Bettina L. Antonin Artaud: Man of Vision. New York: Avon, 1971. Lemon, Lee T., ed. Russian Formalist Criticism: Four Essays. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1969. Levin, Harry. James Joyce: A Critical Introduction (rev. ed.). Norfolk, CT: New Directions, 1960. Mao, Tse-tung. Mao Tse-tung on Literature and Art. Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1967. McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding the Media: The Extensions of Man. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1965. McLuhan, Marshall, and Quentin Fiore. The Medium Is the Message. New York: Bantam Books, 1967. Mercier, Vivian. The New Novel: From Queneau to Pinget. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1971. Meredith, George, and Henri Bergson. Comedy: An Essay on Comedy. Garden City, NY: Doubleday Anchor, 1956. Michaud, Guy. Mallarm. Translated by Marie Collins and Bertha Humez. New York: New York University Press, 1965. Moskowitz, Sam. Explorers of the Infinite: Shapers of Science Fiction. Cleveland: World, 1963. Murillo, L. A. The Cyclical Night: Irony in James Joyce and Jorge Luis Borges. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1968. Nabokov, Vladimir. Nikolai Gogol. Norfolk, CT: New Directions Books, 1944. Newhouse, Neville H. Joseph Conrad. New York: Arco, 1969. Nicholson, Harold. The English Sense of Humor, and Other Essays. New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1968. Nicolson, Marjorie Hope. Newton Demands the Muse: Newtons Opticks and the EighteenthCentury Poets. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966. OBrien, Justin. Portrait of Andr Gide: A Critical Biography. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1953. Oldsey, Bernard S., and Stanley Weintraub. The Art of William Golding. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1965. Ostrovsky, Erika. Cline and His Vision. New York: New York University Press, 1967. Pope, Alexander. Literary Criticism of Alexander Pope. Edited by Bertrand A. Goldgar. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1965. Poulet, Georges. The Interior Distance. Translated by Elliott Coleman. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1959. Poulet, Georges. The Metamorphoses of the Circle. Baltimore: John Hopkins Press, 1966. Poulet, Georges. Studies in Human Time. Translated by Elliott Coleman. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1956.


Price, Martin. To the Palace of Wisdom: Studies in Order and Energy from Dryden to Blake. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1965. Quennell, Peter. Alexander Pope: The Education of Genius, 16881728. New York: Stein & Day, 1968. Ramsey, Warren, ed. Jules LaForgue: Essays on a Poets Life and Work. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1969. Regan, Robert, ed. Poe: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1967. Robbe-Grillet, Alain. For a New Novel: Essays on Fiction. Translated by Richard Howard. New York: Grove Press, 1965. Robinson, Michael. The Long Sonata of the Dead: A Study of Samuel Beckett. New York: Grove Press, 1969. Sarraute, Nathalie. The Age of Suspicion: Essays on the Novel. Translated by Maria Jolas. New York: Braziller, 1963. Sartre, Jean Paul. Saint Genet: Actor and Martyr. Translated by Bernard Frechtman. New York: Braziller, 1963. Scholes, Robert. The Fabulators. New York: Oxford University Press, 1967. Scott, Nathan A. The Broken Center: Studies in the Theological Horizon of Modern Literature. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966. Spencer, Philip. Flaubert: A Biography. New York: Grove Press, 1952. Spencer, Sharon. Space, Time, and Structure in the Modern Novel. New York: New York University Press, 1971. Spender, Stephen. The Creative Element: A Study of Vision, Despair, and Orthodoxy among Some Modern Writers. New York: British Book Center, 1954. Starkie, Enid. Arthur Rimbaud. New York: New Directions, 1961. Starr, Herbert W., ed. Twentieth-Century Interpretation of Grays Elegy: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1968. Sturrock, John. The French New Novel: Claude Simon, Michel Butor, Alain Robbe-Grillet. London: Oxford University Press, 1969. Sypher, Wylie. Literature and Technology: The Alien Vision. New York: Random House, 1968. Turner, W. J. Mozart: The Man and His Works. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1956. Vinaver, Eugne. The Rise of Romance. New York: Oxford University Press, 1971. Wagner, Geoffrey. Wyndham Lewis: A Portrait of the Artist as the Enemy. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1957. Weimer, David R. The City as Metaphor. New York: Random House, 1966. Weisstein, Ulrich, ed. The Essence of the Opera. New York: Norton, 1969.



Welsford, Enid. The Fool: His Social and Literary History. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1961. Weston, Jessie L. From Ritual to Romance. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1957. Wheelwright, Philip. Heraclitus. New York: Atheneum, 1964. Williamson, George. A Readers Guide to T. S. Eliot: A Poem-by-Poem Analysis. New York: Noonday, 1957. Wimsatt, William K. The Verbal Icon: Studies in the Meaning of Poetry. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1967. Winwar, Frances. Oscar Wilde and the Yellow Nineties. New York: Harper, 1940. Mathematics Arbib, Michael A. Brains, Machines, and Mathematics. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1965. Boyer, Carl B. The History of the Calculus and Its Conceptual Development: The Concepts of the Calculus. New York: Dover, 1949. Camm, F. J. Mathematical Tables and Formulae. New York: Philosophical Library, 1958. Cantor, George. Contributions to the Founding of the Theory of Transfinite Numbers. New York: Dover, 1955. Dantzig, Tobais. Number: The Language of Science: A Critical Survey Written for the Cultured Nonmathematician. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1954. Dedekind, Richard. Essays on the Theory of Numbers. New York: Dover, 1963. Delachet, Andr. Contemporary Geometry. New York: Dover, 1962. Hilton, Harold. Mathematical Crystallography and the Theory of Groups of Movements. New York: Dover, 1963. Kasner, Edward, and James Newman. Mathematics and the Imagination. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1940. Kunz, John. Making Mathematics Easy for Parent and Child. Mt. Vernon, NY: Cuisenaire, 1965. Marks, Robert W., ed. Space, Time, and New Mathematics. New York: Bantam Books, 1964. Rosenthal, Evelyn. Understanding the New Mathematics. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett, 1965. Sawyer, W. W. Prelude to Mathematics. Baltimore: Penguin, 1964. Sawyer, W. W. Vision in Elementary Mathematics. Baltimore: Penguin, 1964. Singh, Jagjit. Great Ideas of Modern Mathematics: Their Nature and Use. New York: Dover, 1959. Philosophy Anscombe, G. E. M. An Introduction to Wittgensteins Tractatus (2nd ed.). New York: Harper & Row, 1965.


Ardrey, Robert. The Social Contract: A Personal Inquiry into the Evolutionary Sources of Order and Disorder. New York: Atheneum, 1970. Arendt, Hannah. On Violence. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1970. Arendt, Hannah. The Origins of Totalitarianism. New York: Meridian Books, 1958. Aristotle. Politics and Poetics. New York: Viking Press, 1961. Bachelard, Gaston. The Poetics of Space. Translated by Maria Jolas. Boston: Beacon Press, 1969. Bataille, Georges. Death and Sensuality: A Study of Eroticism and the Taboo. New York: Ballantine Books, 1969. Beauvior, Simone de. The Second Sex. New York: Bantam Books, 1952. Bergson, Henri. Creative Evolution. Translated by Arthur Mitchell. New York: Holt, 1913. Berkeley, George. The Principles of Human Knowledge, and Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous. Cleveland: World, 1967. Berlin, Isaiah, ed. The Age of Enlightenment: The Eighteenth-Century Philosophers. New York: New American Library, 1956. Burke, Edmund. A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful. Edited by J. T. Boulton. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1968. Burton, Robert. The Anatomy of Melancholy. New York: Tudor, 1955. Cahn, Steven M. Fate, Logic, and Time. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967. Camus, Albert. The Myth of Sisyphus. Translated by Justin OBrien. New York: Vintage, 1955. Cassirer, Ernst. Mythical Thought. Vol. 2 of The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms. Translated by Ralph Manheim. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965. Cioran, E. M. The Fall into Time. Translated by Richard Howard. Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1970. Cioran, E. M. The Temptation to Exist. Translated by Richard Howard. Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1968. Cornman, James W. Metaphysics, Reference and Language. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966. Dawson, Christopher. Progress and Religion. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1960. De Grazia, Sebastian. Of Time, Work, and Leisure. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1964. Dunne, J. W. An Experiment with Time. London: Faber & Faber, 1964. Dunne, J. W. The Serial Universe. London: Faber & Faber, 1955. Ewing, A. C. The Fundamental Questions of Philosophy. New York: Collier Books, 1962. Fanon, Franz. The Wretched of the Earth. Translated by Constance Farrington. New York: Grove Press, 1963.



Farber, Marvin. The Aims of Phenomenology: The Motives, Methods and Impact of Husserls Thought. New York: Harper & Row, 1966. Foucault, Michel. The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. New York: Pantheon, 1970. Fraser, J. T., ed. Voices of Time. New York: Braziller, 1966. Heidegger, Martin. Discourse on Thinking. Translated by John M. Anderson and E. Hans Freund. New York: Harper & Row, 1966. Heidegger, Martin. Existence and Being. Chicago: Regnery, 1949. Heidegger, Martin. An Introduction to Metaphysics. Translated by Ralph Manheim. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1961. Heidegger, Martin. Poetry, Language, Thought. Translated by Albert Hofstadter. New York: Harper & Row, 1971. Hinton, Richard W. [Angoff, Charles], ed. Arsenal for Skeptics. New York: Barnes, 1961. Hoffman, Abbie. Revolution for the Hell of It. New York: Dial Press, 1968. Horkheimer, Max, and Theodor Adorno. Dialectic of Enlightenment. Translated by John Cumming. New York: Herder and Herder, 1972. Hulme, T. E. Further Speculations. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1962. Hulme, T. E. Speculations: Essays on Humanism and the Philosophy of Art. Edited by Herbert Read. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1924. Husserl, Edmund. Ideas: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology. Translated by W. R. Boyce Gibson. New York: Collier Books, 1967. Husserl, Edmund. The Phenomenology of Internal Time-Consciousness. Translated by James S. Churchill. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1966. Huxley, Aldous. The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1959. Jaspers, Karl. Kant. Edited by Hannah Arendt. Translated by Ralph Manheim. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1962. Kierkegaard, Sren. Attack upon Christendom, 18541855. Translated by Walter Lowrie. Boston: Beacon Press, 1956. Kierkegaard, Sren. The Concept of Dread. Translated by Walter Lowrie. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967. Langer, Susanne K. An Introduction to Symbolic Language. New York: Dover, 1967. Lauer, Quentin. Phenomenology: Its Genesis and Prospect. New York: Harper & Row, 1965. Lefebvre, Henri. Dialectical Materialism. London: Jonathan Cape, 1969. Leiss, William. The Domination of Nature. New York: Braziller, 1972.


Lenin, Vladimir. V. I. Lenin: Selected Works, in Three Volumes. New York: International, 1967. Lewis, Wyndham. Time and Western Man. Boston: Beacon Press, 1957. Lucretius Carus, Titus. On the Nature of the Universe. Translated by Ronald Latham. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1955. Lynch, Kevin. What Time Is This Place? Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1972. Machiavelli, Niccol. The Prince. New York: New American Library, 1952. Macksey, Richard, and Eugenio Donato, eds. The Structuralist Controversy: The Languages of Criticism and the Sciences of Man. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1972. Malcolm, Norman. Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Memoir. London: Oxford University Press, 1962. Mao, Tse-tung. Four Essays on Philosophy. Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1968. Marcuse, Herbert. An Essay on Liberation. Boston: Beacon Press, 1969. Maritain, Jacques. Existence and the Existent. Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1948. Marx, Leo. The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1967. Melden, A. I., ed. Ethical Theories: A Book of Readings. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1955. Millett, Kate. Sexual Politics. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1970. Mothershead, John L. Ethics: Modern Conception of the Principles of Right. New York: Holt, 1955. Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Philosophy of Nietzsche. New York: Modern Library, 1927. Ortega y Gasset, Jos. The Modern Theme. New York: Harper, 1961. Pitcher, George, ed. Wittgenstein: The Philosophical Investigations. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1966. Planck, Max. The Philosophy of Physics. Translated by H. W. Johnston. New York: Norton, 1963. Plato. The Dialogues of Plato. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1952. Plato. The Republic and Other Works. Translated by Benjamin Jowett. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, n.d. Popkin, Richard H. The History of Scepticism from Erasmus to Descartes. New York: Harper & Row, 1964. Popper, Karl R. The Poverty of Historicism. New York: Harper & Row, 1961. Santayana, George. Scepticism and Animal Faith: Introduction to a System of Philosophy. New York: Dover, 1955. Sartre, Jean Paul. The Emotions: Outline of a Theory. Translated by Bernard Frechtman. New York: Philosophical Library, 1948. Selsam, Howard, and Harry Martel, eds. Reader in Marxist Philosophy from the Writings of Marx, Engels, and Lenin. New York: International, 1963.



Sorel, Georges. Reflections on Violence. New York: Collier Books, 1950. Thompson, William Irwin. At the Edge of History. New York: Harper & Row, 1971. Thoreau, Henry David. The Major Essays. Edited by Jeffrey L. Duncan. New York: Dutton, 1972. Unamuno, Miguel de. Tragic Sense of Life. Translated by J. E. Crawford Flitch. New York: Dover, 1954. Windelband, Wilhelm. Theories in Logic. New York: Citadel Press, 1961. Wisdom, John. Problems of Mind and Matter. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1963. Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Notebooks, 19141916. Translated by G. E. M. Anscombe. New York: Harper, 1961. Wolff, Robert Paul, Barrington Moore, Jr., and Herbert Marcuse. A Critique of Pure Tolerance. Boston: Beacon Press, 1969. Political Science and Economics Beecher, Willard, and Marguerite Beecher. Beyond Success and Failure. New York: Pocket Books, 1966. Bell, Daniel, ed. The Radical Right. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1964. Boulding, Kenneth E. Beyond Economics: Essays on Society, Religion, and Ethics. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1968. Cochran, Thomas C. The American Business System: A Historical Perspective, 19001955. New York: Harper & Row, 1962. Dillon, Wilton, S. Gifts and Nations: The Obligation to Give, Receive and Repay. The Hague: Mouton, 1968. Georgescu-Roegen, Nicholas. The Entropy Law and the Economic Process. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971. Merriam, Charles E. Political Power. New York: Collier Books, 1934. Mitchell, Wesley Clair. Business Cycles and Their Causes. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1960. Oxford Economic Atlas of the World. London: Oxford University Press, 1959. Peter, Laurence J., and Raymond Hull. The Peter Principle. New York: Bantam Books, 1969. Smith, Frank E. The Politics of Conservation. New York: Pantheon, 1966; New York: Harper & Row, 1971. Stern, Fritz. The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of the Germanic Ideology. Garden City, NY: Anchor, 1961. Taber, Robert. The War of the Flea: A Study of Guerrilla Warfare Theory and Practice. New York: Citadel Press, 1970. Velli, Michael. Manual for Revolutionary Leaders. Detroit: Black & Red Press, 1972.


Psychology Abrahamsen, David. Who Are the Guilty? A Study of Education and Crime. New York: Grove Press, 1952. Alvarez, Alfred. The Savage God: A Study of Suicide. New York: Random House, 1972. Asher, Harry. Experiments in Seeing. New York: Basic Books, 1961. Bachelard, Gaston. The Psychoanalysis of Fire. Translated by Alan C. M. Ross. Boston: Beacon Press, 1968. Binswanger, Ludwig. Being-in-the-World: Selected Papers of Ludwig Binswanger. Translated by Jacob Needleman. New York: Harper & Row, 1968. Brown, Norman O. Life against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History. New York: Random House, 1959. DArcy, M. C. The Mind and Heart of Love: Lion and Unicorn, a Study in Eros and Agape. Cleveland: World, 1960. De Ropp, Robert S. Drugs and the Mind. New York: Grove Press, 1957. Dreams, A Key to Understanding Your Secret Self. New York: Dell, 1963. Foucault, Michel. Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason. Translated by Richard Howard. New York: New American Library, 1965. Freud, Sigmund. Civilization and Its Discontents. Translated by Joan Riviere. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1958. Freud, Sigmund. Totem and Taboo. New York: Vintage, 1946. Gregory, R. L. The Intelligent Eye. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1970. Harding, M. Esther. Womans Mysteries: Ancient and Modern. New York: Putnam, 1971. Jung, C. G., ed. Man and His Symbols. New York: Dell, 1964. Jung, C. G. Modern Man in Search of a Soul. Translated by W. S. Dell and Cary F. Baynes. New York: Harcourt, Brace, & World, 1933. Jung, C. G. Psyche and Symbol: A Selection from the Writings of C. G. Jung. Translated by Cary Baynes and F. C. R. Hull. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1958. Jung, C. G. Psychological Reflections. Edited by Jolande Jacobi. New York: Harper, 1961. Jung, C. G. Psychology and Alchemy. Vol. 12 of The Collected Works of C. G. Jung. Edited by Herbert Read, Michael Fordham, and Gerhard Adler. New York: Pantheon Books, 1953. Jung, C. G. Symbols of Transformation: An Analysis of the Prelude to a Case of Schizophrenia. New York: Harper, 1962. Laing, R. D. The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness. Baltimore: Penguin, 1959. Leiris, Michel. Manhood: A Journey from Childhood into the Fierce Order of Virility. Translated by Richard Howard. New York: Grossman, 1963.



May, Rollo. Power and Innocence: A Search for the Sources of Violence. New York: Norton, 1972. Mundle, C. W. K. Perception: Facts and Theories. London: Oxford University Press, 1971. Perry, John Weir. The Self in Psychotic Process: Its Symbolization in Schizophrenia. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1953. Rank, Otto. Beyond Psychology. New York: Dover, 1941. Rank, Otto. Psychology and the Soul. Translated by William D. Turner. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1950. Reik, Theodor. Psychology of Sex Relations. New York: Grove Press, 1961. Rhodes, Raphael. Hypnosis: Theory, Practice and Application. New York: Citadel Press, 1950. Riesman, David, Nathan Glazer, and Reuel Denney. The Lonely Crowd: A Study of the Changing American Character. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1953. Rheim, Gza. Magic and Schizophrenia. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1955. Ruitenbeek, Hendrik, ed., The Problem of Homosexuality in Modern Society. New York: Dutton, 1963. Stekel, Wilhelm. Auto-erotism: A Psychiatric Study of Onanism and Neurosis. New York: Grove Press, 1950. Stone, L. Joseph, and Joseph Church. Childhood and Adolescence: A Psychology of the Growing Person. New York: Random House, 1957. Vernon, Magdalen Dorothea. The Psychology of Perception. Baltimore: Penguin, 1962. Wickes, Frances G. The Inner World of Choice. New York: Harper & Row, 1963. Reference and How to Books A Fact a Day. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran, 1935. American Farm and Home Almanac. Lewiston, ME: Almanac, 1973. American Geological Institute. Dictionary of Geological Terms. Garden City, NY: Dolphin Books, 1962. Baumann, Paul. Collecting Antique Marbles. Des Moines, IA: Wallace-Homestead, 1970. CBS American School of the Air: A Working Prospectus of the 150 Broadcasts in the Series. New York: Columbia Broadcasting System, Education Division, 1945. Cessna 150 Aerobat Training Manual. Wichita, KS: Cessna Aircraft Company, n.d. Crockett, James Underwood. Lawns and Ground Covers. New York: Time-Life Books, 1971. Harth, Morris, ed. The New York Times Encyclopedic Almanac. New York: New York Times, Book and Educational Division, 1972. Henney, Nella Braddy, ed. One Weeks Reading. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page, 1927.


Interscience: Catalog of Science Books. New York: Wiley, 1968. Johnson, Chester. Clocks and Watches. New York: Odyssey Press, 1964. Mawson, C. O. Sylvester. Rogets Pocket Thesaurus. New York: Pocket Books, 1946. Nelson, A. Dictionary of Mining. London: Newnes, 1964. Ostler, George. The Little Oxford Dictionary of Current English. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968. The Popular Educator: A Complete Encyclopedia of Elementary, Advanced, and Technical Education. 6 vols. (rev. ed.). London: Cassell, Petter & Galpin, n.d. Ripleys New Believe It or Not! New York: Simon & Schuster, 1950. Smith, William George. Smaller Classical Dictionary. Revised by E. H. Blakeney and John Warrington. New York: Dutton, 1958. Stories of Science and Book of Plants. Vol. 9 of Modern Library of Knowledge. New York: Abby Book Company, 1940. Taylor, G. C. Garden Making by Example. London: Country Life, 1947. Thomas, Robert B. The Old Farmers Almanac. Dublin, NH: Yankee, 1972. United States Army Corps of Engineers. Engineer Field Manual, Parts IVII. Washington, DC: Government Print Office, 1918. United States Coast and Geodetic Survey. United States of America Nautical Chart Symbols and Abbreviations. Washington, DC: n.p., 1968. Utah: Aeronautical Chart (7th ed.). Salt Lake City: n.p., n.d. Wiley and Interscience Books, 1968: 161 Years of Publishing. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1968. Yonge, Ena L. A Catalogue of Early Globes Made prior to 1850 and Conserved in the United States: A Preliminary Listing. New York: American Geographical Society, 1968. Religion and Mythology Abbot, Walter M. The Documents of the Vatican II. New York: American Press, 1966. Aquinas, Thomas. The Pocket Aquinas: Selections from the Writings of St. Thomas. New York: Washington Square Press, 1960. Augustine, Saint. City of God. Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1958. Augustine, Saint. The Confessions of St. Augustine. Translated by Edward B. Pusey. New York: Washington Square Press, 1960. Augustine, Saint. Selected Writings. Edited by Roger Hazelton. Cleveland: Meridian Books, 1962. Bender, Albert K., ed. Space Review. Bridgeport, CT: International Flying Saucer Bureau, 1953. Bernanos, Georges. The Diary of a Country Priest. Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1962.



Bettenson, Henry, ed. Early Christian Fathers: A Selection from the Writings of the Fathers from St. Clement of Rome to St. Athanasuis. London: Oxford University Press, 1956. Black Elk. Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux. New York: Pocket Books, 1972. Bhme, Jakob. Personal Christianity: The Doctrines of Jacob Bhme. New York: Ungar, 1960. Book of the Dead: An English Translation of the Chapters, Hymns, etc., of the Theban Recension. Edited and translated by E. A. Wallis Buge. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1960. Brown, Raphael. The Little Flowers of St. Francis. Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1958. Butler, E. M. Ritual Magic. New York: Noonday, 1959. Campbell, Joseph. The Masks of God: Oriental Mythology. New York: Viking Press, 1962. Cassirer, Ernst. Language and Myth. New York: Dover, 1946. Cavendish, Richard. The Black Arts. New York: Putnam, 1967. Chautard, J. B. The Soul of the Apostolate. Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1961. Chesterton, G. K. The Catholic Church and Conversion. New York: Macmillan, 1961. Chesterton, G. K. The Everlasting Man. Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1925. Chesterton, G. K. St. Francis of Assisi. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1957. Churchward, James. The Lost Continent of Mu. New York: Paperback Library, 1959. Cottrell, Leonard. Lost Cities. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1963. Cumont, Franz. After Life in Roman Paganism. New York: Dover, 1959. Davidson, D., and H. Aldersmith. The Great Pyramid: Its Divine Message (5th ed.). London: Williams and Norgate, 1932. De Camp, L. Sprague. Lost Continents: The Atlantis Theme in History, Science, and Literature. New York: Dover, 1970. Dickhoff, Robert Ernst. Homecoming of the Martians: An Encyclopedic Work on Flying Saucers. Mokelumme Hill, CA: Health Research, 1964. Eckhart, Meister. Meister Eckhart: A Modern Translation. Translated by Raymond Bernard Blakney. New York: Harper & Row, 1941. Eddy, Mary Baker. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Boston: Christian Science Publishing Society, n.d. Edwards, Frank. Flying Saucers, Serious Business. New York: Lyle Stuart, 1966. Eisler, Robert. The Royal Art of Astrology. London: Herbert Joseph, 1946. Eliade, Mircea. Cosmos and History: The Myth of Eternal Return. New York: Harper, 1959. Eliade, Mircea. Mephistopheles and the Androgyne: Studies in Religious Myth and Symbol. Translated by J. M. Cohen. New York: Sheed & Ward, 1965.


Eliade, Mircea. Myths, Dreams, and Mysteries: The Encounter between Contemporary Faiths and Archaic Realities. Translated by Philip Mairet. New York: Harper & Row, 1957. Eliot, T. S. Christianity and Culture: The Idea of a Christian Society and Notes towards the Definition of Culture. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1949. Farrer, Austin. A Rebirth of Images: The Making of St. Johns Apocalypse. Boston: Beacon Press, 1963. Frazer, James George. The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion. New York: Macmillan, 1960. Fremantle, Anne, ed. A Treasury of Early Christianity. New York: New American Library, 1953. Freud, Sigmund. Moses and Monotheism. New York: Vintage, 1959. Gaer, Joseph. The Legend of the Wandering Jew. New York: New American Library, 1961. Gardner, Gerald B. Witchcraft Today. New York: Citadel Press, 1955. Gleadow, Rupert. The Origin of the Zodiac. New York: Atheneum, 1969. Grant, Robert M. The Secret Sayings of Jesus: The Gnostic Gospel of Thomas. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1960. Graves, Robert, and Raphael Patai. Hebrew Myths: The Book of Genesis. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966. Hales, Edward Elton Young. The Catholic Church in the Modern World. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1960. Hamman, A. G. Early Christian Prayers. Translated by Walter Mitchell. Chicago: Regnery, 1961. Harnack, Adolf von. Outlines of the History of Dogma. Translated by Edwin Knox Mitchell. Boston: Beacon Press, 1957. Harrison, Jane. Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion. New York: Meridian Books, 1957. Heindel, Max, and Augusta Heindel. The Message of the Stars (11th ed.). London: Fowler, 1947. The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments. Teachers ed. Oxford: Oxford University press, n.d. The Holy Bible, Douay Version: Translated from the Latin Vulgate. London: Catholic Truth Society, 1956. Hubbard, L. Ron. Dianetics. Los Angeles: Hubbard College of Scientology, 1950. I Ching: Or, Book of Changes. Translated by Cary F. Baynes from the Richard Wilhelm translation. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950. Ignatius, Saint. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1960. Jocelyn, John. Meditations on the Signs of the Zodiac. San Antonio: Naylor, 1966.



Jerome, Saint. The Satirical Letters of St. Jerome. Translated by Paul Carroll. Chicago: Gateway Editions, 1956. John of the Cross. Ascent of Mount Carmel. Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1958. Katsaros, Thomas, and Nathaniel Kaplan. The Western Mystical Tradition: An Intellectual History of Western Civilization. New Haven: College & University Press, 1969. Kempis, Thomas . The Imitation of Christ. Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1955. Kernyi, Karl. The Gods of the Greeks. New York: Book Collectors Society, 1950. Leo, Alan. Saturn the Reaper. [London]: Modern Astrology Office, 1916. Leschnitzer, Adolf. The Magic Background of Modern Anti-Semitism: An Analysis of the GermanJewish Relationship. New York: International Universities Press, 1956. Ley, Willy. Another Look at Atlantis. New York: Ace Books, 1969. Lietzmann, Hans. The Era of the Church Fathers. Vol. 4 of A History of the Early Church. Cleveland: World, 1961. Lietzmann, Hans. From Constantine to Julian. Vol. 3 of A History of the Early Church. Cleveland: World, 1961. Marx, Karl. A World without Jews. Translated with an introduction by Dagobert D. Runes. New York: Philosophical Library, 1959. Mavor, James W. Voyage to Atlantis. New York: Putnam, 1969. Merton, Thomas. Mystics and Zen Masters. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1967. Merton, Thomas, ed. The Wisdom of the Desert: Sayings from the Desert Fathers of the Fourth Century. New York: New Directions, 1960. Murray, Margaret. The God of the Witches. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1960. Newman, John Henry. An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1960. Pauwels, Louis, and Jacques Bergier. The Morning of the Magicians. Translated by Rollo Myers. New York: Avon, 1968. Pond, Kathleen, ed. Spirit of the Spanish Mystics: An Anthology of Spanish Religious Prose from the Fifteenth to the Seventeenth Century. New York: Kennedy, 1958. Rahner, Hugo. Greek Myths and Christian Mystery. New York: Harper & Row, 1963. Reinhold, H. A., ed. The Soul Afire: Revelations of the Mystics. New York: Meridian Books, 1960. Sampson, Walter H. The Zodiac: A Life Epitome. London: Blackfriars Press, 1928. Seward, A. F. The Zodiac and Its Mysteries: A Study of Planetary Influences upon the Physical, Mental, and Moral Nature of Mankind. Chicago: Seward, 1915. Silverberg, Robert. The Lost Cities and Vanished Civilizations. New York: Bantam, 1962.


Sinistrari, Ludovico Maria. Peccatum Mutum: The Secret Sin. Paris: Le Ballet de Muses, 1958. The Song of God: Bhagavad-Gita. Introduction by Aldous Huxley. New York: New American Library, 1944. Spence, Lewis. History of Atlantis. New Hyde Park, NY: University Books, 1968. Steinmann, Jean. Saint John the Baptist and the Desert Tradition. Translated by Michael Boyes. New York: Harper, 1958. Suzuki, Shunryu. Zen Mind, Beginners Mind. New York: Weatherhill, 1973. Tennant, Frederick. The Sources of the Doctrines of the Fall and Original Sin. New York: Schocken Books, 1968. Teresa of Avila. The Life of Saint Teresa. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1957. Thielicke, Helmut. Nihilism: Its Origin and Nature, with a Christian Answer. Translated by John W. Doberstein. New York: Schocken Books, 1969. Unamuno, Miguel de. The Agony of Christianity. Translated by Kurt F. Reinhardt. New York: Ungar, 1960. Underhill, Evelyn. The Essentials of Mysticism and Other Essays. New York: Dutton, 1960. Underhill, Evelyn. Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Mans Spiritual Consciousness. New York: Dutton, 1961. Underhill, Evelyn. The Mystics of the Church. New York: Schocken Books, 1964. Underhill, Evelyn. Practical Mysticism. New York: Dutton, 1943. Underhill, Evelyn. Worship. New York: Harper, 1936. Vatsyayana. Kama Sutra: A Complete and Unexpurgated Version of This Celebrated Hindu Treatise on Love. Paris: Editions de la Fontaine dOr, 1959. Wenzel, Siegfried. The Sin of Sloth: Acedia in Medieval Thought and Literature. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1967. White, Andrew D. A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom. New York: Braziller, 1955. White, T. H., ed. and trans. The Book of Beasts, Being a Translation from a Latin Bestiary of the Twelfth Century. New York: Putnam, 1954. Williams, Charles. The Descent of the Dove: A History of the Holy Spirit in the Church. Introduction by W. H. Auden. New York: Meridian Books, 1956. Wolters, Clifton, ed. The Cloud of Unknowing. Baltimore: Penguin, 1961. Zimmer, Heinrich. The King and the Corpse: Tales of the Souls Conquest of Evil. New York: Meridian Books, 1960. Zimmer, Heinrich. Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization. Edited by Joseph Campbell. New York: Pantheon Books, 1946.



Zohar: The Book of Splendor. Edited by Gershom G. Scholem. New York: Schocken Books, 1968. Science and Technology Ackerman, Adolph J., and Charles H. Locher. Construction Planning and Plant. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1940. Adams, Frank Dawson. The Birth and Development of the Geological Sciences. New York: Dover, 1954. American Museum of Natural History. Can Man Survive? The American Museum of Natural History Centennial 18691969. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1969. Asimov, Isaac. The Bloodstream: River of Life. New York: Collier Books, 1961. Asimov, Isaac. The Moon. Chicago: Follett, 1966. Bagrow, Leo. History of Cartography. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1966. Barrett, Ralph, and David Patterson, eds. Shells and Shelling. Miami: Post, 1967. The Battle of the Floods: Holland In February 1953. Amsterdam: Netherlands Booksellers, 1953. Bernhard, Hubert, Dorothy A. Bennett, and Huge S. Rice. New Handbook of the Heavens. New York: New American Library, 1948. Berrill, N. J., and Michael Berrill. The Life of Sea Islands. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1969. Blin-Stoyle, R. J. Turning Points in Physics. New York: Harper, 1961. Blum, Harold F. Times Arrow and Evolution. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968. Boardman, Fon W. Canals. New York: Walck, 1959. Born, Max. Natural Philosophy of Cause and Chance. New York: Dover, 1964. Boy Scouts of America. Astronomy. North Brunswick, NJ: [Boy Scouts of America], 1971. Bridgman, P. W. The Nature of Thermodynamics. New York: Harper, 1961. Brock, G. C. The Physical Aspects of Aerial Photography. New York: Dover, 1967. Brockman, C. Frank. Trees of North America: A Field Guide to the Major Native and Introduced Species North of Mexico. New York: Golden Press, [1968]. Brown, Lloyd. The Story of Maps. New York: Bonanza Books, 1949. Buchsbaum, Ralph. Animals without Backbones: An Introduction to Invertebrates. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948. Bunn, C. W. Crystals: Their Role in Nature and in Science. New York: Academic Press, 1964. Caudill, Harry N. My Land Is Dying. New York: Dutton, 1971. Clapp, Leallyn B. Chemistry of the Covalent Bond. San Francisco: Freeman, 1957.


Clark, Thomas H., and Colin W. Stearn. Geological Evolution of North America. New York: Ronald Press, 1968. Cohen, I. Bernard. The Birth of a New Physics. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1960. Colbert, Edwin H. The Dinosaur Book: The Ruling Reptiles and Their Relatives. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1945. Collingwood, G. H., and Warren D. Brush. Knowing Your Trees. Washington, DC: American Forestry Association, 1964. Commoner, Barry. The Closing Circle: Nature, Man, and Technology. New York: Bantam Books, 1972. Crawford, Arthur L., ed. Geology of Salt Lake County. Salt Lake City: Utah Geological and Mineralogical Survey, 1964. Croft, Terrell. Practical Electricity. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1923. Crompton, John. The Life of the Spider. New York: New American Library, 1954. Dana, Edward Salisbury. A Textbook of Mineralogy, with an Extended Treatise on Crystallography and Physical Mineralogy (4th ed.). Revised and enlarged by William E. Ford. New York: Wiley, 1958. Dana, James D. The Geological Story Briefly Told. New York: American Book, 1895. Darlington, Philip J. Biogeography of the Southern End of the World: Distribution and History of FarSouthern Life and Land, with an Assessment of Continental Drift. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1965. De Bell, Garrett, ed. The Environmental Handbook. New York: Ballantine Books, 1970. De Camp, L. Sprague, and Catherine Crook de Camp. The Day of the Dinosaur. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1968. Ditmars, Raymond L. The Reptiles of North America. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1946. Ditmars, Raymond L. Thrills of a Naturalists Quest. New York: Macmillan, 1932. Dreiblatt, David. The Economics of Heavy Earthmoving. New York: Praeger, 1972. Dunkle, David. The World of Dinosaurs. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1966. Easterbrook, Don J. Principles of Geomorphology. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1969. Eastwood, T. Stanfords Geological Atlas of Great Britain. London: Stanford, 1964. Edmunds, F. H., and R. W. Gallois. British Regional Geology: The Wealden District. London: H. M. Stationery Office, 1965. Eiseley, Loren C. The Unexpected Universe. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1969. Eleventh Annual Franklin-Sterling Mineral Exhibit. Franklin, NJ: n.p., 1967. Engeln, O. D. von. The Finger Lakes Region: Its Origin and Nature. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1961.



Ennion, E. A. R. Tracks. Oxford: Claredon Press, 1967. Fairbrother, Nan. New Lives, New Landscapes Planning for the Twenty-first Century. New York: Knopf, 1970. Farb, Peter. Face of North America: The Natural History of a Continent. New York: Harper & Row, 1968. Fink, Donald G. Computers and the Human Mind. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1966. Folsom, Franklin. Exploring American Caves. New York: Collier Books, 1970. Ford, Alice. Audubons Butterflies, Moths and Other Studies. New York: Studio Publications in association with Crowell, 1952. Fuller, R. Buckminster. Nine Chains to the Moon. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1963. Gaines, Helen Fouch. Cryptanalysis: A Study of Ciphers and Their Solution. New York: Dover, 1956. Gallant, Roy A., and Christopher J. Schuberth. Discovering Rocks and Minerals: A Nature and Science Guide to Their Collection and Identification. Garden City, NY: Natural History Press, for the American Museum of Natural History, 1967. Gamow, George. The Birth and Death of the Sun: Stellar Evolution and Sub-atomic Energy. New York: New American Library, 1960. Gardner, Martin. The Ambidextrous Universe. New York: Basic Books, 1964. Gardner, Martin. Logic Machines and Diagrams. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1958. Gaskell, T. F. Physics of the Earth. London: Thames and Hudson, 1970. Goetsch, Wilhelm. The Ants. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, [1957]. Gray, Andrew. A Treatise on Gyrostatics and Rotational Motion: Theory and Applications. New York: Dover, 1959. Green, Larry, and Jeri Green. Prop Roots: Hermits from the Mangrove Country Everglades. Vol. 2. N.p., n.d. Greenhood, David. Mapping. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964. Grnbaum, Adolf. Modern Science and Zenos Paradoxes. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1967. Handisyde, Cecil C. Building Materials: Science and Practice. London: Architectural Press, 1963. Hargreaves, Dorothy, and Bob Hargreaves. Tropical Trees. Kailua, HI: Hargreaves, 1965. Hegner, Robert. Parade of the Animal Kingdom. New York: Macmillan, 1946. Helfrich, Harold W., ed. The Environmental Crisis. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1970. Holden, Alan, and Phyllis Singer. Crystals and Crystal Growing. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1960.


Holmes, James MacDonald. The Geographical Basis of Keyline. Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1960. Hubble, Edwin. The Realm of the Nebulae. New York: Dover, 1958. Iacopi, Robert. Earthquake Country. Menlo Park, CA: Lane, 1964. Jammer, Max. Concepts of Space: The History of the Theories of Space in Physics. New York: Harper, 1960. Jones, William G. The New Forest. Boalsburg, PA: Offset Centre, 1970. Kaston, B. J. How to Know the Spiders. Dubuque, IA: Brown, 1953. Kay, Marshall, and Edwin H. Colbert. Stratigraphy and Life History. New York: Wiley, 1965. Kiepenheuer, Karl. The Sun. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1959. Knight, Charles R. Life through the Ages. New York: Knopf, 1946. Lahee, Frederic H. Field Geology. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1961. Langefors, U., and Bjrn Kihlstrm. The Modern Technique of Rock Blasting. New York: Wiley, 1967. Legget, Robert F. Geology and Engineering. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1962. Linssen, E. F., and Hugh L. Newman. The Observers Book of Common Insects and Spiders (2d ed.). London: Frederick Warne, 1954. Loomis, Frederic Brewster. Field Book of Common Rocks and Minerals, for Identifying the Rocks and Minerals of the United States and Interpreting Their Origins and Meanings. New York: Putnam, 1948. Longwell, Chester R., Richard Foster Flint, and John E. Sanders. Physical Geology. New York: Wiley, 1969. Lowenthal, David, ed. Environmental Perception and Behavior. [Chicago: Department of Geography, University of Chicago], 1967. Lowry, T. Martin. Optical Rotatory Power. New York: Dover, 1964. MacArthur, Robert H., and Edward O. Wilson. The Theory of Island Biogeography. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967. MacNeice, Louis. Astrology. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1964. Maine. Geological Survey. Maine Granite Quarries and Prospects. Augusta, ME: Department of Economic Development, 1958. Maldonado, Toms. Design, Nature, and Revolution: Toward a Critical Ecology. New York: Harper & Row, 1972. Manley, Seon, and Robert Manley. Islands: Their Lives, Legends, and Lore. Philadelphia: Chilton, 1970.



Marrison, Leslie W. Crystals, Diamonds, and Transistors. Baltimore: Penguin, 1966. Martin, John Rogers, and Hugh A. Wallace. Design and Construction of Asphalt Pavements. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1958. McCulloch, Warren S. Embodiments of Mind. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1965. Mendelssohn, K. The Quest for Absolute Zero: The Meaning of Low Temperature Physics. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966. Millar, C. E., L. M. Turk, and H. D. Foth. Fundamentals of Soil Science (4th ed.). New York: Wiley, 1965. Miner, Roy Waldo. Field Book of Seashore Life. New York: Putnam, 1950. Morgan, Ann Haven. Field Book of Ponds and Streams: An Introduction to the Life of Fresh Water. New York: Putnam, 1930. Mountevans, Edward. The Antarctic Challenged. New York: Grove Press, 1956. Oakley, Kenneth P., and Helen M. Muir-Wood. The Succession of Life through Geological Time. London: Trustees of the British Museum of Natural History, 1964. Palache, Charles. The Minerals of Franklin and Sterling Hill, Sussex County, New Jersey. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1960. Palmer, Ralph S. The Mammal Guide: Mammals of North America North of Mexico. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1954. Parratt, Lyman G. Probability and Experimental Errors in Science: An Elementary Survey. New York: Wiley, 1961. Pauling, Linus, and Roger Hayward. The Architecture of Molecules. San Francisco: Freeman, 1964. Ransom, Jay Ellis. A Range Guide to Mines and Minerals: How and Where to Find Valuable Ores and Minerals in the United States. New York: Harper & Row, 1964. Rhodes, Frank Harold Trevor. The Evolution of Life. Baltimore: Penguin, 1962. Richards, Brian. New Movement in Cities. London: Studio Vista; New York: Reinhold, 1966. Schuberth, Christopher J. The Geology of New York City and Environs. Garden City, NY: Natural History Press, 1968. Stefansson, Evelyn. Within the Circle: Portrait of the Arctic. New York: Scribners, 1945. Serventy, Vincent. Landforms of Australia. New York: American Elsevier, 1968. Shelton, John S. Geology Illustrated. San Francisco: Freeman, 1966. Shumskii, P. A. Principles of Structural Glaciology: The Petrography of Fresh-Water Ice as a Method of Glaciological Investigation. New York: Dover, 1964. Sidgwick, J. B. Introducing Astronomy. London: Faber and Faber, 1957. Singer, Charles. A Short History of Anatomy from the Greeks to Harvey. New York: Dover, 1957.


Southall, James P. C. Introduction to Physiological Optics. New York: Dover, 1961. Stacks, John F. Stripping. San Francisco: Sierra Club, 1972. Stewart, Alec T. Perpetual Motion: Electrons and Atoms in Crystals. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1965. Swoope, C. Walton. Lessons in Practical Electricity. New York: Van Nostrand, 1913. Tarr, Ralph S., and O. D. von Engeln. New Physical Geography. New York: Macmillan, 1926. Thompson, DArcy Wentworth. On Growth and Form. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Twenhofel, William H. Treatise on Sedimentation. 2 vols. New York: Dover, 1961. Underwood, Benton J. Elementary Statistics. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1954. Union Carbide Corporation. The Petrified River: The Story of Uranium. New York: Union Carbide, 1964. Verma, Ajit Ram, and P. Krishna. Polymorphism and Polytypism in Crystals. New York: Wiley, 1966. Von Neumann, John. Theory of Self-Reproducing Automata. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1966. Weed, Clarence M. Insect Ways. New York: Appleton, 1930. Weyl, Hermann. Philosophy of Mathematics and Natural Science. New York: Atheneum, 1963. Wiener, Norbert. The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society. New York: Avon, 1967. Writers Program (New York, NY). American Wild Life, Illustrated. New York: Wise, 1940. Wyckoff, Jerome. Geology. New York: Golden Press, 1967. Young, Louise B., ed. The Mystery of Matter. New York: Oxford University Press, 1965. Travel and Guidebooks Bauer, Clyde Max. Yellowstone: Its UnderworldGeology and Historical Anecdotes of Our Oldest National Park. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1948. Berkshire Traveler Almanack and Journal. Supplement: Country Inns in Winter. Stockbridge, MA: Berkshire Traveler Press, 1970. Bitner, Fred H. Arizona Rock Trails: Where to Go, How to Get There, What to Look For. Scottsdale, AZ: n.p., 1957. Bloomgarden, Richard. Easy Guide to Merida, Yucatan and Nearby Archaeological Zones. Edition unknown. Casanova, Richard L. An Illustrated Guide to Fossil Collecting. Healdsburg, CA: Naturegraph, 1957.



Cottrell, Alden T. The Deserted Village at Allaire. Trenton, NJ: Board of Trustees of the Deserted Village at Allaire, 1969. Country Inns and Back Roads. Stockbridge, MA: Berkshire Traveler Press, 1971. Country Inns in Winter: The Winter Supplement to Country Inns and Backroads. Stockbridge, MA: Berkshire Traveler Press, 1970. Craster, O. E. Tintern Abbey, Monmouthshire. London: H.M Stationery Office, 1964. De Stanley, Mildred. The Salton Sea, Yesterday and Today. Los Angeles: Triumph Press, 1966. Dutton, Bertha P. Indians of New Mexico: Land of Enchantment. Santa Fe, NM: Department of Development, n.d. Dutton, Bertha Pauline. Lets Explore Indian Villages, Past and Present (rev. ed.). Santa Fe, NM: 1970. Feitz, Leland. A Quick History of Creede, Colorado Boom Town. Denver: Golden Bell Press, 1969. Gardens of England and Wales Open to the Public. London: National Gardens Scheme, 1969. General Society of Colonial Wars (U.S.). New Jersey. Historic Roadsides of New Jersey. Plainfield, NJ: Glenney, 1928. Griffin, Thomas Kurtz. New Orleans: A Guide to Americas Most Interesting City. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1961. Hamblin, W. Kenneth, and J. Keith Rigsby. Guidebook to the Colorado River, Part 1: Lees Ferry to Phantom Ranch in Grand Canyon National Park. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University, 1968. Hamblin, W. Kenneth, and J. Keith Rigsby. Guidebook to the Colorado River, Part 2: Phantom Ranch in Grand Canyon National Park to Lake Mead, Arizona-Nevada. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University, 1969. Houghtaling, Cora B. Rock Hounding out of Bishop. Bishop, CA: Chalfant Press, Inc., 1967. Indians of New Mexico. Edition unknown. Johnson, Cy. Western Gem Hunters Atlas. Susanville, CA: Johnson, 1966. Johnson, Robert Neil. California-Nevada Ghost Town Atlas. Susanville, CA: Johnson, 1967. Mason, Brian Harold. Trap Rock Minerals of New Jersey. Trenton: State of New Jersey, Department of Conservation and Economic Development, Division of Planning and Development, 1960. Merrill, Arch. The Ridge: Ontarios Blossom Country. Rochester, NY: Heindl, 1944. Miller, David E. The Great Salt Lake: Past and Present. Salt Lake City: n.p., 1949. New Guide to Rome and Its Environs. Rome: Verdesi, n.d. Newby, Eric, and Diana Petry. Wonders of Britain. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1968. Parker, Horace. Anza-Borrego Desert Guide Book: Southern Californias Last Frontier. Balboa Island, CA: Paisano Press, 1969.


Powell, John Wesley. The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons. 1895. Reprint New York: Dover, 1961. Putnam, George Palmer. Death Valley Handbook. New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1947. Rudolph, William E. Vanishing Trails of Atacama. New York: American Geographical Society, 1963. Ruz, Alberto. Palenque. Mexico City: n.p., 1960. Ruz, Alberto. Uxmal: Official Guide. Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Antropologe Historia, 1959. Sasek, M. This Is Texas. New York: Macmillan, 1967. Simpson, Bessie W. Gem Trails of Arizona: A Field Guide for Collectors. Bowie, TX: Gem Trails, 1967. Sloan, Ed. Mineral and Gem Trails. Mineola, NY: EDSCO Gems & Minerals, 1965. Strong, Mary Frances. Desert Gem Trails: A Field Guide to the Gem and Mineral Localities of the Mojave Desert, Colorado Desert, and Adjacent Areas of Nevada and Arizona. Mentone, CA: Gembooks, 1966.



illustration credits


Robert Smithson in Mexico, 1969. Photo courtesy Nancy Holt.

Figure 1.1 Robert Smithson, sketchbook page, n.d., ink on paper, 7 1/2 5. Robert Smithson Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Estate of Robert Smithson/ Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 1.2 Robert Smithson, sketchbook page, n.d., ink on paper, 7 1/2 5. Robert Smithson Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Estate of Robert Smithson/ Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 1.3 Robert Smithson, sketchbook page, n.d., ink on paper, 7 1/2 5. Robert Smithson Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Estate of Robert Smithson/ Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 1.4 Robert Smithson, sketchbook page, n.d., ink on paper, 7 1/2 5. Robert Smithson Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Estate of Robert Smithson/ Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 1.5 Robert Smithson, Alogon, 1966, painted stainless steel, seven units, overall 35 1/2 73 1/2 35 1/2. Collection of Whitney Museum of American Art. Purchase, with funds from the Howard and Jean Lipman Foundation, Inc. 67.8. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 1.6 Robert Smithson, Alogon #3, 1967, painted steel, twenty units, largest 46 11 46. Collection unknown. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 1.7 Robert Smithson, Alogon, 1966. Photo by John Schiff. Courtesy of Dwan Gallery Archives. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 1.8 Robert Smithson, Alogon, 1966. Photo by John Schiff. Courtesy of Dwan Gallery Archives. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 1.9 Robert Smithson, advertisement for his first one-person exhibition at Dwan Gallery, New York, 1966. Arts Magazine 41, no. 1 (November 1966): 16. Courtesy of Dwan Gallery Achives. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 1.10 Robert Smithson, Alogon #2, 1966, painted steel, ten units, overall size approximately 35. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Virginia Dwan. Photograph provided by the Dwan Gallery Archives, reproduced with the permission of The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 1.11 Robert Morris, Untitled (Three L-Beams), 1969 refabrication of a 1965 original, painted plywood, three units, each 96 96 24. 2001 Robert Morris/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Figure 1.12 Robert Smithson, Plunge, 1966, painted steel, ten units, each 39 39 with heights increasing from 22 1/8 to 39 3/4. Collection of Denver Art Museum: Gift of John and Kimiko Powers. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 1.13 Figure 33 Alternating perspective figures (p 174) from THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PERCEPTION by M. D. Vernon (Penguin Books, 1962) copyright M.D. Vernon, 1962. Reproduced by permission of Penguin Books Ltd.


Figure 1.14 Illustration of an alternating perspective figure, in Ronald G. Carraher and Jacqueline B. Thurston, Optical Illusions and the Visual Arts (New York: Reinhold Publishing Corporation, 1966), 115. Figure 1.15 Thirys figure, in Ernst Gombrich, Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1960), 284 (figure 236). Copyright 1960 by Trustees of the National Gallery of Art. Reprinted by permission of Princeton University Press. Figure 1.16 Robert Smithson, The Gallery Interior as a Tragic Site, n.d., pencil on paper, dimensions unknown. Estate of Robert Smithson, courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 1.17 Robert Smithson, The Museum of the Void. 19661968, pencil on paper, 19 24. The Over Holland Collection. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 1.18 Ellsworth Kelly, Green Blue Red, 1964, oil on canvas, 73 100. Collection of Whitney Museum of American Art. Purchase, with funds from the Friends of the Whitney Museum of American Art. 66.80. Figure 1.19 Page 31 from The Responsive Eye, by William C. Seitz. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. 1965. Offset, printed in black and white, 91/2 81/2. Photograph 1999 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Figure 1.20 James Stevenson, cartoon, The New Yorker (3 April 1965): 48. The New Yorker Collection from cartoonbank.com. All rights reserved. Figure 1.21 Robert Smithson, High Sierra, 1964, oil on canvas, 5 4. Collection of Daniel Newburg. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 1.22 Robert Smithson, The Eliminator, 1964, steel, mirrors, and neon, 20 20 28. collection Sylvio PerlsteinAntwerp. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 1.23 Robert Smithson, drawing in James P. C. Southall, Introduction to Physiological Optics (New York: Dover, 1961), 238 (figure 20), c. 1964, ink and pencil on top of printed illustration, 3 3/8 4 1/2. Robert Smithson Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 1.24 Robert Smithson, Enantiomorphic Chambers, 1965, steel and mirrors, each chamber 34 square. Location unknown. Estate of Robert Smithson, courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 1.25 Robert Smithson, Afterthought Enantiomorphic Chambers, c. 1965, photocollage, pen, and colored pencil on graph paper, 11 8 1/2. Collection Museu de Arte Contemporanea de Serralves, Porto, Portugal. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 1.26 Robert Smithson, Three Works in Metal and Plastic, 1964, ink on typing paper, 11 81/2. Estate of Robert Smithson, courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.



Figure 1.27 Robert Smithson, Untitled, 19631964, steel and mirrorized plastic, 13 100 7. Private collection. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 1.28 Robert Smithson, Untitled, 19641965, steel and mirrorized plastic, 81 35 10. Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Melvyn Estrin, courtesy Thea Westreich Art Advisory Services. Photograph courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 2.1 Robert Smithson, Untitled, 19641965, steel and mirrorized plastic, 81 35 10. Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Melvyn Estrin, courtesy Thea Westreich Art Advisory Services. Photograph courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 2.2 George Cserna and Wallace Litwin, photographs, in Peter Blake, Gods Own Junkyard (New York: Holt, Rhinehart, and Winston, 1964), 32. Figure 2.3 Denise Scott Brown, photograph, in Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, A Significance for A & P Parking Lots, or Learning from Las Vegas, Architectural Forum 128, no. 2 (March 1968): 3637. Figure 2.4 Robert Smithson, Negative Map Showing Region of the Monuments along the Passaic River, 1967, negative photostat, 81/8 8. Museet for samtidskunst, Oslo. MS-3938/97-VII. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 2.5 Robert Smithson, Drawing for Pointless Vanishing Point, 1967, pencil on paper, 123/8 12. Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca. Membership Purchase Fund. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 2.6 Robert Smithson, Pointless Vanishing Point, 1968, fiberglass, 40 40 96. Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca. Gift of Virginia Dwan. Photo by Walter Russell. Courtesy of Dwan Gallery Archives. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 2.7 Robert Smithson, Pointless Vanishing Point, 1968. Photo by Walter Russell. Courtesy of Dwan Gallery Archives. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 2.8 Robert Smithson, Pointless Vanishing Point, 1968. Photo by Walter Russell. Courtesy of Dwan Gallery Archives. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 2.9 Stereoscopic pictures from Sir Charles Wheatstone, Scientific Papers, as reproduced in Harry Asher, Experiments in Seeing, 59 (figure 14). Copyright 1961 by H. Asher. Reprinted by permission of Basic Books, a member of Perseus Books, L.L.C. Figure 2.10 Robert Smithson, New Jersey, New York with 2 Photos, 1967, map, photographs, ink, and pencil, 22 171/4. Courtesy Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, TorinoItaly. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 2.11 Robert Smithson, The Bridge Monument Showing Wooden Sidewalks, 1967, photograph. Museet for samtidskunst, Oslo. MS-3938/97-II. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.


Figure 2.12 Ed Ruscha, Whiting Bros., near Ludlow California, Twentysix Gasoline Stations, 1963. Ed Ruscha. Figure 2.13 Claes Oldenburg, Placid Civic Monument, Performance behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 1, 1967. Figure 2.14 Robert Smithson, The Sand-Box Monument (also called The Desert), 1967, photograph. Museet for samtidskunst, Oslo. MS-3938/97-VI. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 3.1 Installation view of the first room of Smithsons one-person exhibition, Dwan Gallery, New York, including Pointless Vanishing Point, Leaning Strata, and Shift, 227 March 1968. Photo by Walter Russell. Courtesy of Dwan Gallery Archives. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 3.2 Poster for Smithsons one-person exhibition, Dwan Gallery, New York, 1968. Courtesy of Dwan Gallery Archives. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 3.3 Robert Smithson, Leaning Strata, 1968, painted aluminum, 49 1/8 105 30. Collection Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Donation of Virginia Dwan, 1985. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 3.4 Robert Smithson, A Non-Site (an indoor earthwork), 1968, map photostat and typed text, 121/2 101/2. Collection of Virginia Dwan. Photo by Walter Russell. Courtesy of Dwan Gallery Archives. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 3.5 Installation view of the second room of Smithsons one-person exhibition, Dwan Gallery, New York, including A Non-Site (an indoor earthwork), 227 March 1968. Photo by Walter Russell. Courtesy of Dwan Gallery Archives. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 3.6 Robert Smithson, Untitled (folded map of Beaufort Inlet), c. 1967, map, 36 31. Estate of Robert Smithson, courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 3.7 Robert Smithson, Untitled (Antarctica), n.d., map and pencil, 27 diameter. Private collection. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 3.8 Robert Smithson, Drawing for Leaning Strata, 1968, pencil and ink on paper, 24 18. Estate of Robert Smithson, courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 3.9 Spherical mosaic of narrow-angle photographs of lunar scene at low sun illumination, Surveyor Spacecraft I, 1966. Neg. no. 332446 (Photo: NASA). Courtesy Department Library Services, American Museum of Natural History, New York. Figure 3.10 Robert Smithson, drawing in Terminal Area Concepts, Tibbetts, Abbott, McCarthy, and Stratton, c. 1966, pencil and crayon on printed plan, 14 11. Robert Smithson Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.



Figure 3.11 Robert Smithson, Texas Airport AP 10, 1966, photostat and pencil on paper, 171/2 25. Collection of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Gift of the Estate of Robert Smithson. Photo courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 3.12 Robert Smithson, Terminal: Plans for DallasFort Worth Regional Airport, 1966, photostat, 17 12. Collection of the Estate of Robert Smithson, courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 3.13 Robert Smithson, Untitled, c. 1966, mirrored glass, 8 1/4 4 1/2 1 1/2. Collection of Whitney Museum of American Art. Gift of the Estate of Robert Smithson. 92.2.3. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 3.14 Diagram showing how photographic shots are overlapped in aerial mapping, in David Greenhood, Mapping (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964), 108. Copyright 1964 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved. Figure 3.15 Diagram showing the stereographic production of contour maps, in David Greenhood, Mapping (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964), 111. Copyright 1964 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved. Figure 3.16 Robert Smithson, Glass Stratum, 1967, glass, 17 3/4 12 84. Collection of Virginia Dwan. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 3.17 Robert Smithson, Untitled (Map on Mirror-Passaic, New Jersey), 1967, glass and map photostats, 14 14 7/8. Collection of the Estate of Robert Smithson, courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 3.18 Photograph of Alexander Graham Bell with his tetragonal lattice kites, in Robert Smithson, Towards the Development of an Air Terminal Site, Artforum 5, no. 10 (Summer 1967): 39. Figure 3.19 Diagrammatic representation of elements describing surfaces, in Konrad Wachsmann, The Turning Point of Building: Structures and Design (New York: Reinhold Publishing Corporation, 1961), 63 (figure 80). Figure 3.20 Robert Smithson, Tar Pool and Gravel Pit (model), 1966, 3 square on 2 1/2 base. Destroyed. Estate of Robert Smithson, courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 3.21 Robert Smithson, Three Side Views of Concrete or Wooden Foundations to be Plotted on Level Ground, 1966, ink and pencil on paper, dimensions unknown. Photo by John Schiff. Courtesy of Dwan Gallery Archives. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 3.22 Robert Smithson, Three Earth Windows (under broken glass) AP 2, 1967, pencil and ink on graph paper, 17 22. Collection of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Museum Purchase. Photo courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.


Figure 3.23 Robert Smithson, Terminal, 1966, painted steel, 52 1/2 62 1/2 40. Des Moines Art Center Permanent Collections; Gift of Virginia Dwan, New York, 1985.26. Photo by Walter Russell. Courtesy of Dwan Gallery Archives. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 3.24 Robert Smithson, A Non-Site (an indoor earthwork), 1968, painted aluminum, sand, and wooden platform, 31 units, overall 12 65 1/2 65 1/2. Collection of Virginia Dwan. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 3.25 Robert Smithson, A Web of White Gravel, 1967, pencil on photostat, 14 1/4 11. Collection of the Estate of Robert Smithson, courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 3.26 Robert Smithson, Earthmap of Gondwanaland Ice Cap, 1969, pencil and collage on graph paper mounted on board, 14 1/2 9 3/4. The Siegelaub Collection & Archives at the Stichting Egress Foundation, Amsterdam. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 3.27 Postcard sent by Mel Bochner to Robert Smithson, 13 July 1967. Robert Smithson Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Figure 3.28 Robert Smithson, advertisement for Dwan Gallery, Arts Yearbook, no. 9 (1967). Robert Smithson Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Courtesy of Dwan Gallery Archives. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 3.29 Illustrations for The Moon Voyagers and the Earthly Beauty that Beckons them Back, Life (28 February 1969): 21. Ralph Morse/TimePix, Stan Wayman/TimePix. Robert Smithson Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Figure 3.30 Cover of Life (8 August 1969). TimePix. Robert Smithson Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Figure 3.31 Cover of Artforum 8, no. 1 (September 1969). Reproduced courtesy of Artforum. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 3.32 Comparative architectural forms from Ignatius Donnelly, Atlantis: The Antediluvian World, 1882 (reprint New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1971), 354355. Figure 3.33 Robert Smithson, Nine Mirror Displacements, 1969, as reproduced in Artforum 8, no. 1 (September 1969): 29. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 3.34 Robert Smithson, Seventh Mirror Displacement, 1969, chromogenic-development slide. Solomon Guggenheim Museum, New York. Purchased with funds contributed by the Photography Committee and with funds contributed by the International Directors Council and Executive Committee Members: Edythe Broad, Henry Buhl, Elaine Turner Cooper, Linda Fischbach, Ronnie Heyman, Dakis Joannou, Cindy Johnson, Barbara Lane, Linda Macklowe, Brian McIver, Peter Norton Foundation, Willem Peppler, Denise Rich, Rachel Rudin, David Teiger, Ginny Williams, Elliot Wolk, 1999. 99.5269. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 3.35 Illustrations from Men on the Moon, Life (8 August 1969): 1819. TimePix. Robert Smithson Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.



Figure 3.36 Illustration of Churinga of an Aranda man of the Frog totem, in Claude Lvi-Strauss, The Savage Mind (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966), 240 (figure 11). Copyright 1966 by George Weidenfeld and Nicolson Ltd. Robert Smithson Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Figure 3.37 Robert Smithson, A Surd View for an Afternoon, 1970, ink on polar coordinate paper, 8 1/2 11. Collection of Susan Penner, Montreal. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 4.1 Robert Smithson, Partially Buried Woodshed, 1970, black felt-tip pen on six sheets of wove paper, each sheet 9 12. National Gallery of Art. Gift of the Estate of Robert Smithson and Werner H. Kramarsky. 1998.116.1.a-f. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 4.2 Robert Smithson, Eight-Part Piece (Cayuga Salt Mine Project), 1969, mirrors and rock salt, eight units, 24 24 each. Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 4.3 T. L. Dawes, Mining on the Comstock, 1876, photograph of a print. Robert Smithson Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Figure 4.4 Robert Smithson, drawing on Jersey City quadrangle, c. 1968, pencil on map, 27 22. Robert Smithson Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 4.5 Robert Smithson, Photo-Marker (from Six Stops on a Section), Laurel Hill, New Jersey, 1968, 35 mm transparency slide. Estate of Robert Smithson, courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 4.6 Robert Smithson, Untitled (Hysteria), n.d., photocollage, 8 10. Robert Smithson Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Estate of Robert Smithson/ Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 4.7 Robert Smithson, altered image from Nudist Sun, n.d. 10 3/4 9 3/4. Robert Smithson Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Estate of Robert Smithson/ Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 4.8 Robert Smithson, Untitled (Classical Head), 1963, collage, pencil and crayon on paper, 30 5/8 22. Estate of Robert Smithson, courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 4.9 Robert Smithson, study for Urination Map of the Constellation Hydra, 1969, photographs, photostat, and pencil on cardboard, 17 36 1/2. Photograph courtesy of Robert Smithson Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Estate of Robert Smithson/ Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 4.10 Robert Smithson, film stills from The Spiral Jetty, reproduced in Artforum 10, no. 1 (September 1971): 5455. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 4.11 Robert Smithson, Towards the Development of a Cinema Cavern, 1971, pencil, pho-


tograph and tape on paper, 12 5/8 15 5/8. Collection of the Estate of Robert Smithson, courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Figure 4.12 Robert Smithson, drawing in Kennecott Annual Report, 1968, black marker on photographic reproduction, 4 3/4 5 1/4. Robert Smithson Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.




Page numbers appearing in italic type indicate illustrations. Abbau (un-building), 202, 203. See also Mumford, Lewis Adorno, Theodor, 121 Aerial art, 148151, 156, 196, 275nn. 51, 55 Aerial Art, 148151, 156, 275n. 55, 275276n. 56 Air terminal, 134139, 136, 137, 139, 142143, 144, 148, 148151, 153156, 154, 155, 158159, 158, 160163, 161, 164, 189, 190, 191, 266n. 104, 272nn. 15, 17, 275276n. 56, 277n. 72, 290 291n. 80. See also Smithson, Robert, works; Tibbetts, Abbott, McCarthy, and Stratton (TAMS) Albers, Joseph, 49, 50, 248n. 67, 249nn. 74, 83 Aldiss, Brian, Earthworks, 101, 105, 267n. 110 Alloway, Lawrence, 54, 74, 125, 240n. 10, 281n. 117 Alogons, 1528, 18, 20, 21, 22, 24, 3031, 43, 45, 62, 71, 72, 74, 94, 98, 100, 125, 158, 164, 179, 196, 243n. 9, 244n. 16, 253n. 114, 257n. 148, 149, 270n. 8. See also Smithson, Robert, works Alternating perspective figure. See Perspective American Museum of Natural History, 106, 132, 222, 231, 265n. 92, 270n. 8, 271272n. 13, 279n. 99 American Sculpture of the Sixties, 72, 74n. 151, 125n. 3, 243n. 11, 256n. 142, 257n. 148 Andre, Carl, 148, 149, 156, 164, 256n. 144, 266n. 104, 269n. 2, 275n. 51, 282n. 123 Anthropomorphism, 61, 70, 7172, 82, 9091, 143, 150, 180, 184, 222, 255n. 137, 273n. 25 Apollo 11, 167168, 169, 170, 172, 182184, 183, 198, 270n. 8, 279nn. 99, 100, 281n. 117, 282n. 129, 282283n. 131, 283nn. 134, 135 Archive, xii, xiv, 6, 189, 231, 234235, 236237n. 5. See also Smithson, Robert, archive The Art of Assemblage, 53, 260n. 32 Art in Process: The Visual Development of a Structure, 5960, 70, 143, 243244n. 11 Artforum, 10, 167168, 171, 177179, 178, 180, 182, 184, 226, 228229, 234, 242n. 6, 279n. 100, 281n. 117, 292n. 97 Asher, Harry, Experiments in Seeing, 28, 96n. 64, 97, 253n. 114 Baer, Jo, 153, 155, 276277n. 69 Ballard, J. G., The Crystal World, 8082, 258n. 11, 278n. 90 Smithson, Robert, and, 144, 147, 258n. 11, 259n. 16, 274n. 33 Barthes, Roland, xvi, 134, 144, 145, 147, 156, 179180, 188189, 199, 220221, 270271n. 9, 272n. 17, 274n. 33, 290n. 80

Criticism as Language, 188 The Diseases of Costumes, 156, 179180 Mythologies, 221, 290n. 80 On Racine, 188 Seven Photo Models of Mother Courage, 220 221, 291n. 83 Smithson, Robert, and, xvi, 134, 144, 145, 147, 156, 179180, 188189, 199, 220221, 270271n. 9, 272n. 17, 274n. 33, 290n. 80 The Structuralist Activity, 134, 144, 145 147, 188n. 148, 199, 272n. 17, 274n. 33 Writing Degree Zero, 189 Bataille, George, Death and Sensuality: A Study of Eroticism and the Taboo, 215, 288n. 57 Baxandall, Michael, 42 Becher, Bernd, and Hilla Becher, 110 Beckett, Samuel, The Unnameable, 263n. 67 Bell, Alexander Graham, 146, 147, 148, 151, 276n. 64 Blake, Peter, Gods Own Junkyard, 8586, 87, 88, 89, 90, 90, 91, 106, 113, 118, 240n. 16, 260nn. 33, 34, 35, 261n. 44, 267n. 111 Blind spot, xvii, 2, 4, 31, 107, 160, 182, 196, 211 Bochner, Mel, 167, 168, 184, 272n. 17, 279n. 99, 283n. 135 Boorstin, Daniel J., The Image (or What Happened to the American Dream), 108, 240n. 16, 265n. 96 Borges, Jorge Luis, 82, 274n. 33, 278n. 82, 283n. 136 Brecht, Bertolt, 220221, 232 Brown, Denise Scott, A Significance for A & P Parking Lots, or Learning from Las Vegas, 8687, 88, 89, 90, 91, 91, 106, 112, 118, 240241n. 16, 261n. 36, 262n. 53 Burnham, Jack, 281n. 117 Cartography, 6, 10, 87, 88, 9294, 94, 98, 99, 100, 104, 117, 124, 126130, 127, 128, 129, 131133, 132, 134, 140142, 140, 141, 142, 149151, 153, 156160, 159, 161, 164167, 166, 173, 179, 182, 187, 189, 190, 191, 197198, 199, 201, 203, 204, 215, 216, 216, 217, 223, 224, 231, 240n. 11, 259n. 16, 262n. 59, 263nn. 61, 62, 65, 69, 270n. 4, 270 271n. 9, 271nn. 11, 12, 13, 273n. 22, 277nn. 71, 79, 277278n. 81, 279nn. 96, 98, 281n. 117, 282n. 123, 286n. 17, 288n. 58. See also Greenhood, David; Hypothetical continents; Infra perspectives; Photography aerial photography and, 140142, 140, 157, 263n. 65 geological survey maps, 93, 94, 128, 140142, 142, 157, 173, 203, 204, 263nn. 62, 65, 271n. 13, 273n. 22 satellites and, 131, 132, 150, 191, 282n. 123


Smithson, Robert, and, 6, 10, 9294, 94, 98, 99, 100, 104, 117, 124, 126130, 127, 128, 129, 131133, 134, 141, 141142, 149151, 153, 156160, 159, 161, 164167, 166, 173, 179, 189, 190, 191, 197198, 199, 201, 203, 204, 215, 216, 216, 217, 223, 224, 231, 240n. 11, 262n. 59, 263nn. 61, 62, 65, 69, 270n. 4, 270271n. 9, 271nn. 11, 12, 13, 273n. 22, 277nn. 71, 79, 277278n. 81, 279nn. 96, 98, 281n. 117, 282n. 123, 288n. 58 surveyors space, 9293, 98, 104 Churchward, James, The Lost Continent of Mu, 173175, 176, 280n. 109, 281n. 110 Conceptual art, 10, 198, 236n. 1, 242n. 2, 285n. 12, 289n. 70 Cool Art, 65, 113, 185, 254n. 123, 268n. 124 Corman, Roger, 8, 115116, 117, 118, 268n. 121 Crary, Jonathan, 252n. 112, 113 The Crystal Land, 70, 7983, 89, 92, 102, 103, 105, 143, 150, 164, 257n. 2, 258n. 11, 259nn. 20, 21, 260n. 29, 262n. 54, 265n. 88, 268n. 124 Cubism, 3335, 3637, 3942, 45, 65, 247n. 52, 249n. 76 Cummings, Paul. See Smithson, Robert, interviews with DallasFort Worth Airport. See Air terminal; Smithson, Robert, works; Tippetts, Abbott, McCarthy, and Stratton (TAMS) De Certeau, Michel, 3 Discussions with Heizer, Oppenheim, Smithson. See Smithson, Robert, interviews with, Heizer, Oppenheim, Smithson Displacement, 133, 203, 206, 213, 226, 272n. 14, 282n. 126 See also Smithson, Robert, mirror displacements Donnelly, Ignatius, Atlantis: The Antediluvian World, 175, 176, 176, 280n. 109 Duchamp, Marcel, 80, 258n. 9 Dwan, Virginia, 83, 104, 156, 157, 172, 174, 189, 191, 263n. 66, 275n. 51, 277n. 81, 279n. 96, 280nn. 103, 106, 283n. 133 Dwan Gallery, 17, 2324, 2627, 43, 44, 104, 125, 130, 148, 149-150, 158, 164, 167, 237n. 5, 240n. 14, 243n. 10, 244n. 13, 258n. 3, 263n. 66, 270n. 6, 275nn. 53, 55, 290n. 72. See also Smithson, Robert, exhibitions Earth art. See Earthwork Earth Art, 106, 173, 199, 218, 236n. 2, 286n. 20, 290n. 72. See also Smithson, Robert, works, Cayuga Salt Mine Project

Earth Windows, 153, 155156, 155, 179. See also Smithson, Robert Earthmaps, 164, 165167, 166, 173, 215, 216217, 279n. 96 Earthwork, xi, xii, 128, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 146, 149150, 153156, 154, 155, 159, 159, 160163, 161, 164, 194, 218219, 222, 233, 236n. 1, 283n. 133, 291n. 86, 293n. 107. See also Aldiss, Brian, Earthmaps; Earthworks; Smithson, Robert, earthworks Earthworks, 275n. 53, 290n. 72 Ehrenzweig, Anton, The Hidden Order of Art, 206207, 287n. 41 Eisenstein, Sergei, 220, 223224, 226, 292n. 97 Enantiomorphic Chambers, xvii, 5961, 62, 64, 70, 71, 72, 9293, 107, 130, 196, 198, 209, 223, 227, 239n. 19, 243n. 11, 252n. 111, 253nn. 116, 118 Enantiomorphs, xviixviii, 6063 60, 62, 63, 6670, 67, 68, 69, 82, 9293, 98100, 116, 158, 179, 196, 239n. 19, 252n. 11. See also Smithson, Robert, enantiomorphs Entropy, 2728, 103, 117, 196197, 203, 232, 266n. 104, 285nn. 7, 9 Evans, Walker, 120, 269n. 134 Film, 8, 83, 103, 107, 115116, 117, 134135, 183184, 187188, 189, 191, 196, 210, 211, 213, 220, 221, 222232, 228 229, 265n. 98, 283n. 134, 284n. 157, 287288n. 46, 291n. 86, 292nn. 97, 100 montage and, 223224, 226, 232, 292n. 97 Smithson, Robert, and, 55, 83, 103, 107, 115116, 117, 134, 135, 189, 191, 196, 210, 211, 213, 220, 221, 222232, 228 229, 241n. 18, 258n. 5, 264n. 77, 290291n. 80, 291n. 86 The Spiral Jetty, 222223, 224226, 227, 228229, 231232, 292n. 98 stills and, 103, 107, 108, 113, 114, 150, 180, 191, 210, 211, 222223, 225226, 228229, 264n. 77, 267n. 106, 292293n. 106 underground film, 8, 227, 230, 241nn. 17, 18, 292n. 100 Foucault, Michel, 237n. 5 Freud, Sigmund, 205206, 207, 210, 217, 227, 231, 238n. 10 Smithson, Robert, and, 206, 207, 210, 217, 227 Totem and Taboo, 205206, 207, 210, 217, 227, 231 Fried, Michael, 8991, 243n. 11, 247n. 55, 248n. 65, 262nn. 49, 51, 271n. 12 Art and Objecthood, 8991, 262n. 49, 51 Smithson, Robert, and, 91, 262n. 49, 271n. 12 Fuller, Buckminster, 197, 259n. 24



Gaines, Helen Fouch, Cryptanalysis, 28 Gardner, Martin, The Ambidextrous Universe, 70, 251n. 106, 252n. 111 Ginzburg, Carlo, xiiixiv, 238n. 10, 245n. 33 Glueck, Grace, 217218 Godard, Jean-Luc, 8, 187188, 189, 191, 284n. 157 Gombrich, E. H., Art and Illusion, 3337, 34, 40, 41, 42, 49, 52, 70, 111, 116, 118, 245nn. 27, 33, 249n. 76 Gordon, Mitchell, Sick Cities: Psychology and Pathology of American Urban Life, 84n. 27, 259n. 24, 261n. 44 Graham, Dan, 70, 120, 236n. 2, 253n. 116, 255n. 130, 258n. 3, 261n. 45, 267n. 116, 269nn. 133, 134 Greenberg, Clement, 10, 3742, 45, 4647, 52, 6466, 7074, 111, 213214, 243n. 11, 246n. 41, 44, 247n. 49, 248n. 67, 249n. 83, 253nn. 119, 120, 254n. 121, 256nn. 144, 145, 146, 257n. 148, 260n. 33, 262n. 51, 267n. 111, 269n. 2, 290 291n. 80 Art and Culture: 37, 3942, 246n. 44, 254n. 121 essays: Abstract, Representational and so forth, 37n. 34, 35, 7172, 73 American-Type Painting, 65 Avant-garde and Kitsch, 3738, 246n. 44 Collage, 3940, 41 Jean Dubuffet and Art Brut, 38 Modernist Painting, 47, 65, 256n. 146 Modernist Sculpture, Its Pictorial Past, 4041, 247n. 49 The New Sculpture, 39, 40, 42n. 56, 71n. 136, 262n. 51 Our Period Style, 246n. 41 The Present Prospects of American Painting and Sculpture, 38n. 42 Recentness of Sculpture, 7274, 256n. 144, 145, 260n. 33, 267n. 111 The Situation at the Moment, 37n. 36 Towards a Newer Laocoon, 38n. 40, 246n. 40 optical mirage and, 3942, 7172, 91, 209, 253n. 119, 262n. 51, 269n. 2 Post Painterly Abstraction, 4647, 51, 248n. 67, 249n. 83, 254n. 121, 123 Smithson, Robert, and, 45, 57, 6466, 7072, 91, 213214, 243n. 11, 253n. 120, 254nn. 121, 123, 255256n. 137, 290291n. 80 Greenhood, David, Mapping, 132, 140, 140, 151, 157n. 79, 270-271n. 9, 271nn. 11, 12, 281n. 117, 286n. 17 Gussow, Alan, 218, 232, 289n. 67

Harrington, Michael, The Accidental Century, 120 Heller, Ben. See Towards a New Abstraction Hesse, Eva, 163164, 167, 261n. 45, 279n. 99, 288n. 60 Hobbs, Robert, 236n. 2, 237nn. 6, 7, 243n. 9, 244nn. 11, 16, 263n. 63, 270n. 4, 284n. 2, 286nn. 20, 21, 287n. 32, 292n. 95 Holt, Nancy, xii, 3, 10, 5556, 57, 64, 79, 156, 164, 172, 174, 237nn. 6, 8, 239nn. 6, 7, 240n. 12, 250n. 95, 251nn. 102, 105, 253nn. 116, 120, 257n. 1, 263n. 70, 265n. 86, 275n. 51, 279n. 99, 280nn. 103, 106, 282283n. 131 Hutchinson, Peter, 213214, 254255n. 128 Hypothetical continents. See Earthmaps Hysteria, 210, 211, 213, 288n. 50 Incidents of Mirror-Travel in the Yucatan, 164, 165, 168, 171, 172174, 175182, 178, 181, 184185, 186187, 191, 214215, 217, 240n. 11, 279n. 96, 279280n. 103, 280nn. 104, 106, 107, 109, 281n. 113, 282n. 129, 287288n. 92 Infra perspectives, 95, 96, 97, 124, 126, 127, 129, 130132, 153, 179, 196, 244n. 11, 269n. 2, 270n. 7. See also Smithson, Robert, Infra perspectives Isometric Figure. See Perspective, alternating perspective figure Jacobs, Jane, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, 259nn. 23, 24, 260n. 28, 260261n. 35, 263n. 68 Jones, Caroline, 236n. 4, 266n. 99, 288n. 48 Judd, Donald, 79, 120, 146, 256n. 144, 257n. 2, 257258n. 3, 265n. 88 Junkers, Howard, 257n. 1, 262n. 53, 279n. 99 Kaprow, Allan, 247nn. 58, 59, 265n. 86, 284n. 1 Kelly, Ellsworth, 4749, 48, 51, 64, 74, 248n. 67, 248n. 72, 257n. 148 Kent State University, 195, 196, 203205, 239n. 8, 284285n. 6, 285n. 8, 287n. 32. See also Smithson, Robert, works, Partially Buried Woodshed Kerouac, Jack, 7 Kozloff, Max, 218, 247n. 55 Krauss, Rosalind, xi, 49, 51n. 78, 236n. 3, 252n. 112, 266n. 102 Kubler, George, The Shape of Time: Remarks on the History of Things, 145147, 164, 187, 188, 238n. 11, 272n. 14, 274nn. 36, 37, 41. See also Smithson, Robert, Kubler, George, and Kurz, Bruce. See Smithson, Robert, interviews with


La Jete. See Marker, Chris Lefebvre, Henri, 3, 239n. 4 Leider, Philip, 110, 182, 263264n. 70, 266n. 104, 282n. 129 Lvi-Strauss, Claude, xvi, 185187, 187, 197, 198199, 210, 234235, 285n. 9 The Savage Mind, 185187, 187, 198199, 234 235 Smithson, Robert, and, 186187, 197, 210, 285n. 9 Totemism, 210 LeWitt, Sol, 146, 148, 149, 247248n. 59, 256n. 144, 257258n. 3, 275n. 53, 279n. 99, 282n. 123 Life, 23, 53, 167168, 169, 170, 183184, 183, 234, 252n. 106, 259n. 24, 261n. 44, 279n. 100 Lipke, William C. See Smithson, Robert, interviews with Lippard, Lucy, 2223, 51n. 78, 219, 243n. 7, 249n. 74, 261n. 41, 290n. 72 Lynch, Kevin, 84, 240n. 16, 259n. 24 Macaulay, Rose, Pleasure of Ruins, 113114, 267n. 114 Mannerism, 6566, 73, 74, 213214, 221, 254nn. 122, 128, 290291n. 80, 293n.108 Maps. See Cartography Marker, Chris, La Jete, 134135, 162, 223, 264n. 77, 272n. 18, 278n. 90 Marx, Leo, The Machine in the Garden, 260n. 29 McLuhan, Marshall, 113, 185, 240n. 16, 267n. 113, 292293n. 106 McShine, Kynaston. See Primary Structures Mekas, Jonas, 8, 241n. 17 Metropolis, xvii, 8490, 92, 93, 100, 102104, 106, 107, 112, 115116, 117118, 120121, 202203, 259nn. 23, 24, 260nn. 28, 29, 32, 260261n. 35, 261nn. 36, 44, 45, 263n. 68, 265n. 96, 267n. 106, 269nn. 133, 135, 272n. 15 Michelson, Annette, 243n. 11, 284n. 157, 292n. 97 Mine, 106, 199203, 200, 201, 227, 286nn. 20, 21, 288n. 47 Minimalism, 2528, 73, 74, 116, 243n. 7, 243244n. 11, 244n. 14, 256nn. 144, 145, 258n. 19, 268n. 124, 269n. 135 Modernism, xvi, 37, 39, 40, 41, 42, 49, 51, 57, 66, 71, 73, 85, 86, 91, 137, 213, 241n. 19, 253n. 119, 261n. 36 Modernist art; Modernist painting; Modernist sculpture. See Modernism. See also Greenberg, Clement Montage, 85, 223224, 226, 232, 292n. 97

Monument, 84, 86, 109, 114, 115, 119, 162, 185, 264n. 71, 266n. 104, 267n. 116, 289n. 65. See also The Monuments of Passaic; Ruins; Smithson, Robert, Monuments The Monuments of Passaic, 93, 94, 102, 104, 105121, 109, 119, 177, 180, 184, 191, 196, 223, 262n. 59, 262263n. 61, 263264n. 70, 264nn. 83, 84, 265nn. 87, 94, 97, 266nn. 103, 104, 267n. 110, 114, 268n. 124, 269n. 135, 273n. 22, 279n. 94, 288n. 48 Moon landing, 1969. See Apollo 11 Morphology, xiiixiv, xv, xvi, xviii, 31, 42, 53, 75. See also Ginzburg, Carlo Morris, Robert, 2526, 26, 27, 28, 80, 143144, 146, 147, 148-149, 150, 156, 216, 244n. 14, 256n. 144, 258n. 3, 274n. 41, 275nn. 51, 52, 288n. 60 Mller, Gregoire. See Smithson, Robert, interviews with Mumford, Lewis, The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its Prospects, 202203, 259n. 24, 286n. 26 Nabokov, Vladimir, 111112 NASA, 132, 167, 182, 184, 270n. 8, 281n. 117, 282n. 123 Newman, Barnett, 65, 114 Nochlin, Linda, xi, 236n. 1 Noland, Kenneth, 46, 65, 72, 74, 248n. 67 Nonsite, 126127, 128, 130, 131133, 134, 138, 156160, 159, 162163, 177, 183, 196, 198, 199, 203, 207, 208, 213, 265n. 92, 270nn. 6, 7, 271nn. 12, 13, 277n. 79, 277278n. 81, 280n. 104, 282283n. 131, 285n. 12. See also Site/Nonsite; Smithson, Robert, nonsite A Non-Site (an indoor earthwork), 126127, 128, 131133, 156159, 159, 162163, 270n. 6, 277nn. 79, 80, 277278n. 81, 278n. 87 A Nonsite, Pine Barrens, New Jersey. See A Non-Site (an indoor earthwork) Norvell, P. A. See Smithson, Robert, interviews with Oldenburg, Claes, 114, 115, 219, 265n. 86, 267n. 116, 279n. 95 Opacity, 19, 2425, 4345, 75, 153, 155 Oppenheim, Dennis, 215216, 279n. 99, 282n. 126, 288n. 60 Optical art (Op Art), 4559, 73, 250n. 85 Optical mirage. See Greenberg, Clement Oster, Gerald, 250n. 90, 251n. 102 Owens, Craig, xixii, xvxvi, 238nn. 16, 17, 265n. 97



Park Place Group, 21, 243n. 7, 258n. 3 Partially Buried Woodshed, 194, 195197, 198, 199, 201202, 203-205, 226, 232, 284285n. 6, 285n. 8, 287n. 32 Perception. See also Film; Perspective; Photography; Stereoscope abstraction and, xvii, 3145, 46, 4955, 64, 6975, 8687, 89, 92100, 101105, 106, 111, 125133, 137143, 147148, 150156, 179180, 191, 198199, 201202, 208209, 213214, 216217, 220221, 221222, 223225, 234, 257n. 2, 269n. 2, 292n. 86 opacity and, 19, 2425, 4345, 75, 153, 155 psychology of, 3133, 245n. 27 retinal fusion, retinal rivalry and, 3233, 3637, 48, 4951, 52, 6061, 7172, 253n. 114 transparency and, 15, 19, 24, 2526, 2930, 36, 75, 155156 Perceptual art. See Optical art Perceptual psychology, 3133, 245n. 27 Perreault, John, 207, 238n. 13 Perspective, 15, 1722, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 25, 2832, 29, 30, 3335, 34, 3637, 4142, 45, 4950, 50, 51, 52, 62, 66, 70, 74, 75, 8993, 90, 91, 94100, 97, 99, 103, 106, 108110, 109, 111, 113, 116, 125126, 127, 130131, 150, 155, 180, 223, 243n. 7, 245n. 18, 249n. 76, 255n. 129, 261nn. 45, 46, 263n. 68, 269n. 139, 270n. 7, 271n. 11. See also Pointless Vanishing Point; Smithson, Robert, Infra perspectives alternating perspective figure, 2832, 29, 30, 3335, 34, 3637, 4142, 4950, 50, 51, 52, 70, 74, 9495, 98, 130131, 180, 245n. 18, 249n. 76, 270n. 7, 271n. 11 linear perspective (one- and two-point), 15, 19, 23, 45, 74, 75, 8993, 95, 125126, 127, 130, 150, 155, 223, 261n. 46, 263n. 68 photography and, 1722, 18, 20, 21, 22, 25, 89, 90, 90, 91, 95100, 97, 99, 108110, 109, 111, 113, 180, 261n. 45 reverse perspective, 21, 49, 98, 255n. 129 three-dimensional perspective, 23, 100 (See also Alogons; Infra perspectives) vanishing point and, 62, 66, 89, 90, 92, 9498, 100, 106, 108, 116, 125, 255n. 129 Pettena, Gianni. See Smithson, Robert, interviews with Photography, xiv, xvxvi, xviii, 2, 3, 6, 1722, 18, 20, 21, 22, 25, 28, 32, 57, 6162, 63, 79, 80, 85, 89, 90, 90, 91, 93, 95100, 96, 97, 99, 101, 104, 107, 108112, 109, 111, 113, 114, 119, 120, 131, 132, 137, 13942, 140, 157, 159, 164, 165, 167, 168, 169,

170, 171, 173, 174, 177182, 178, 181, 184, 186187, 191, 197, 199, 207209, 208, 211, 212, 213, 216, 219, 220, 221222, 223224, 225226, 231, 232, 237n. 7, 238n. 17, 242nn. 4, 5, 6, 253n. 116, 261n. 45, 262263nn. 61, 263nn. 62, 65, 264nn. 77, 84, 265nn. 86, 97, 266nn. 100, 102, 103, 104, 105, 267n. 106, 269nn. 133, 134, 270n. 8, 272n. 20, 273n. 22, 274n. 35, 276n. 56, 280n. 104, 281nn. 114, 117, 288nn. 47, 54, 292n. 95. See also Cartography; Film; Monument; Perspective; Smithson, Robert, works; Stereoscope aerial photography, 139142, 140, 157, 263n. 65, 272n. 20, 274n. 35 anti-photography, 266n. 105 montage and, 85, 223224, 226 perspective and, 1722, 18, 20, 21, 22, 25, 89, 90, 90, 91, 95100, 97, 99, 108110, 109, 111, 113, 180, 261n. 45 satellite photography, 80, 131, 132, 167, 169, 182, 191 Smithson, Robert, and, xiv, xvxvi, xviii, 2, 3, 6, 1722, 18, 20, 21, 22, 25, 28, 57, 6162, 63, 79, 80, 93, 95100, 96, 97, 99, 101, 104, 107, 108112, 109, 113, 114, 119, 137, 141142, 157, 159, 164, 165, 168, 171, 173, 174, 177182, 178, 181, 184, 186187, 191, 197, 199, 207209, 208, 211, 212, 213, 216, 220, 221222, 223, 225226, 231, 232, 237n. 7, 238n. 17, 242nn. 4, 5, 253n. 116, 261n. 45, 262263n. 61, 263nn. 62, 65, 264n. 84, 265nn. 86, 97, 266nn. 100, 103, 104, 105, 273n. 22, 276n. 56, 280n. 104, 281n. 117, 288nn. 47, 54, n. 95 stills and, 107, 108, 110, 111, 113, 114, 180, 182, 183184, 183, 191, 210, 211, 220, 222223, 225226, 228229, 264n. 77, 267n. 106 Picasso, Pablo, 38, 3940, 247n. 52 Pointless Vanishing Point, 61n. 115, 71n. 135, 9293, 9498, 95, 96, 97, 106, 124, 125, 130, 252n. 111, 255n. 129, 269n. 139, 263n. 63, 270n. 7. See also Smithson, Robert, Infra perspectives; Smithson, Robert, works Pop Art, 5, 53, 57, 73, 116, 240n. 10, 250n. 89, 256n. 145, 260n. 34, 268n. 124 Post Painterly Abstraction. See Greenberg, Clement Postcards, xiii, 6, 7, 163164, 167, 168169, 168, 172, 182, 187188, 189, 191, 223, 231, 237n. 8, 240n. 14, 261n. 45, 263264n. 70, 279n. 99, 282n. 126, 283n. 133, 288n. 60 Postmodernism, xi, xii, xvi, 241n. 19, 246n. 44 Poststructuralism, xii, xvi, 238n. 16 Primary Structures: Younger British and American Sculptors, 2, 73, 143, 243n. 11, 256nn. 141, 144, 257n. 148, 273n. 25, 273274n. 32


Prime object, 145147, 149, 175, 187, 274n. 37. See also Kubler, George, The Shape of Time Quadrangle map. See Cartography, geological survey maps Ready-made, 7980, 8283, 98, 100, 258n. 9, 256n. 145 Reinhardt, Ad, 150, 153, 155, 276n. 69 Reise, Barbara, 243n. 11, 271n. 12 Replica-mass, 145146, 147, 175, 187, 274n. 37. See also Kubler, George, The Shape of Time Resnais, Alan, Night and Fog, 231232 The Responsive Eye, 4555, 50, 57, 59, 65, 87, 248nn. 64, 65, 67, 249nn. 82, 83, 250nn. 85, 90, 92, 94, 251nn. 96, 103, 252n. 106. See also Optical art; Seitz, William Robbe-Grillet, Alain, 182, 282n. 127 Rose, Barbara, 51, 51n. 78, 247n. 55, 248n. 65, 249n. 82, 250n. 92, 266n. 104, 276n. 69 Rosler, Martha, 281n. 117 Roth, Moira. See Smithson, Robert, interviews with Ruins, 113116, 117, 118, 162, 165, 172173, 176, 207, 231, 232, 267n. 114, 285n. 9 Ruscha, Edward, 110111, 111, 266n. 105, 267n. 106, 272n. 20 Science fiction, 79, 8082, 85, 101, 105, 184, 254n. 128, 257258n. 3, 258n. 11, 260n. 29, 278n. 90, 283n. 134 Seitz, William, 45, 4655, 5758, 59, 64, 65, 70, 87, 247n. 55, 248nn. 64, 65, 67, 249n. 82, 249250n. 83, 250n. 85, 251nn. 96, 103, 252n. 106, 260n. 32. See also Optical art; The Responsive Eye Shapiro, Gary, 238n. 16, 241n. 19, 278n. 82, 292n. 99 Sheeler, Charles, 110, 266n. 104 Site/Nonsite, 130133, 159160, 197198 Site-specific, 28, 83, 239n. 8, 277n. 79 Sky, Alison. See Smithson, Robert, interviews with Smith, Jack, 8 Smith, Tony, 8790, 91, 103, 106, 116, 152, 261n. 41, 268n. 124, 274n. 33, 287n. 41 Smithson, Robert abstract expressionism and, 72, 254n. 123 aerial art and, 156, 196, 275n. 51, 275276n. 56 air terminal and, 134139, 136, 137, 139, 142143, 144, 148, 148151, 153156, 154, 155, 158159, 158, 160163, 161, 164, 189, 190, 191, 266n. 104, 272nn. 15, 17, 275276n. 56, 277n. 72, 290291n. 80

anthropomorphism and, 61, 70, 7172, 82, 91, 150, 180, 184, 222, 255n. 137 archive, xiixiii, xiv, xv, xvi, xvii, xviii, 23, 3, 6, 164, 174, 199, 211, 213, 234, 235, 236n. 2, 237nn. 5, 6, 7, 8, 238n. 16, 241n. 18, 279n. 98, 288n. 53 art museum and, 4345, 64, 75, 138, 153, 163, 206, 291n. 86 Artforum and, 10, 167168, 171, 177179, 178, 180, 182, 184, 226, 228229, 234, 279n. 100, 281n. 117 Ballard, J. G., and, 144, 147, 258n. 11, 259n. 16, 274n. 33 Barthes, Roland, and, xvi, 134, 144, 145, 147, 156, 179180, 188189, 199, 220221, 270271n. 9, 272n. 17, 274n. 33, 290n. 80 cartography and, 126130, 131133, 153, 156160, 201, 259n. 16, 270n. 4, 270271n. 9, 271nn. 11, 12, 13, 277n. 71, 277278n. 81, 278n. 82, 279n. 98, 281n. 117, 282n. 123 coded environment and, 144145, 146, 149, 156, 199, 273n. 32, 274n. 33, 35 (see also works, The Artist as Site-Seer or Coded Environments) conceptual art and, 10, 198, 242n. 2, 285n. 12, 289n. 70 crystal and, 28, 70, 72, 79, 8183, 85, 89, 92, 143, 150, 156157, 203, 225, 252n. 111, 258n. 9, 260n. 28, 278n. 82 (see also Ballard, J. G., The Crystal World; Smithson, Robert, works, The Crystal Land, A Short Description of Two Mirrored Crystal Structures) Duchamp, Marcel, and, 80, 258n. 9 Earth Windows, 153, 155156, 155, 179 Earthmaps, 164, 165167, 166, 173, 215, 216217, 279n. 96 (see also Smithson, Robert, works, Earth Map for Mexico [Gondwanaland], Earthmap of Gondwanaland Ice Cap, Earth Map of Sulfur & Tar [Cambrian Period], Island of Broken Glass, Map of Broken Glass [Atlantis]) Earthworks and, xi, xii, 134, 135, 138, 146, 149150, 153156, 159, 160163, 164, 218, 222, 283n. 133, 291n. 86, 293n. 107 (see also aerial art; Smithson, Robert, works, Asphalt Rundown, Broken Circle/Spiral Hill, A Non-Site (an indoor earthwork), Partially Buried Woodshed, Proposals for Earthworks and Landmarks to Be Built on the Fringes of the Fort WorthDallas Regional Air Terminal Site, Spiral Jetty) ecology and, 217218, 222, 232, 289n. 62, 64, 65, 67 enantiomorphs and, xviixviii, 6063, 60, 62, 63, 6670, 67, 68, 69, 82, 9293, 98100, 116, 158, 179, 196, 239n. 19, 252n. 11 (see also Smithson,



Smithson, Robert (cont.) Robert, works; Afterthought Enantiomorphic Chambers, Drawing in Southall, Introduction to Physiological Optics, Enantiomorphic Chambers, Three Works in Metal and Plastic, Untitled, 19631964, Untitled, 19641965) entropy and, 2728, 103, 117, 196197, 203, 232, 266n. 104, 271n. 13, 285n. 7 exhibitions: one-person: Artists Gallery, New York, 239n. 7, Galleria George Lester, Rome, 5556 first one-person exhibition, Dwan Gallery, New York, 17, 22, 2627, 158, 158, 243n. 10, 244n. 13, 16 second one-person exhibition, Dwan Gallery, New York, 2324, 125133, 124, 126, 128, 158, 243n. 10, 269n. 1, 2, 270n. 6, 7 Nonsites, Dwan Gallery, New York, 240n. 14, 270n. 6 group exhibitions: American Sculpture of the Sixties, 72, 74n. 151, 125n. 3, 243n. 11, 256n. 142, 257n. 148 Art in Process: The Visual Development of a Structure, 5960, 70, 143, 243244n. 11 Art by Telephone, 285n. 12 Cool Art1967, 254n. 123; Dwan Gallery New York at Dwan Gallery Los Angeles, 167 Earth Art, 106, 173, 199, 218, 236n. 2, 286n. 20, 290n. 72 Earthworks, 275n. 53, 290n. 72 555,087, 285n. 12, 290n. 72 Information, 285n. 12 July, August, September 1969, 279n. 96 Konzeption/Conception, 285n. 12 Language to be Looked at and/or Things to be Read, 151n. 62 Long Beach Island, New Jersey, 215217, 288n. 60 Minimal Art, 270n. 6 Monuments, Tombstones, and Trophies, 267n. 116 One Month, 285n. 12 Plastics, 255n. 130 Recorded Activities, 285n. 12 6 Artists 6 Exhibitions, 270n. 6, 271n. 13 Sonsbeek 70, 284n. 2, 289n. 62 Sonsbeek 71, 291n. 86 When Attitude Becomes Form, 285n. 12 Working Drawings and Other Visible Things on Paper Not Necessarily Meant to Be Viewed as Art, 272n. 17 film and, 55, 83, 103, 107, 115116, 117, 134, 135,

189, 191, 196, 210, 211, 213, 220, 221, 222232, 228 229, 241n. 18, 258n. 5, 264n. 77, 290 291n. 80, 291n. 86 (see also Smithson, Robert, stills; Smithson, Robert, works, Art Through the Cameras Eye, A Cinematic Atopia, From Ivan the Terrible to Roger Corman or Paradoxes of Conduct in Mannerism as Reflected in the Cinema, The Monument: An Outline for a Film, The Spiral Jetty, Swamp) framing edge and, 6566, 145, 213215, 221, 226, 290291n. 80 Freud and, 206, 207, 210, 217, 227 Fried, Michael, and, 91, 262n. 49, 271n. 12 Greenberg, Clement, and, 45, 57, 6466, 7072, 91, 214, 243n. 11, 253n. 120, 254nn. 121, 123, 290291n. 80 Hypothetical continents (see Earthmaps) Infra perspectives, 95, 96, 97, 124, 126, 127, 129, 130132, 153, 179, 196, 244n. 11, 269n. 2, 270n. 7 (see also Smithson, Robert, Exhibitions: Second one-person exhibition, Dwan Gallery, New York and Smithson, Robert, works, Gyrostasis, Leaning Strata, Pointless Vanishing Point, Shift, Sinistral Spiral) interviews with: Cummings, Paul, 6n. 13, 7n. 15, 10n. 23, 59n. 109, 74n. 149, 272n. 15 Heizer, Oppenheim, Smithson, 156157n. 78, 158n. 83, 262n. 59 Kurtz, Bruce, 183n. 131 Lipke, William C., 106n. 93, 179n. 121, 266n. 100, 287n. 41 Mller, Gregoire, 197n. 9, 274n. 35, 291n. 86 Norvell, P. A., 179nn. 116, 118, 120, 189n. 155, 232n. 109, 232, 234n. 110, 281n. 117, 285n. 12 Pettena, Gianni, 10n. 24, 285n. 9 Roth, Moira, 258n. 9 Sky, Alison, 285n. 7 Toner, Paul, 164, 177, 179n. 115, 180n. 125, 182n. 128, 197n. 10, 205n. 35, 226n. 96, 236n. 2, 256n. 140, 277n. 72, 285n. 11, 287n. 35, 291n. 84 Wheeler, Dennis, xvii, 70n. 134, 74n. 150, 117118, 118n. 131, 121, 175n. 111, 191, 195n. 5, 198n. 13, 199n. 18, 200201, 203, 207, 210211, 214, 217n. 65, 227, 236n. 2, 238n. 18, 241242n. 21, 242n. 2, 251n. 106, 252n. 111, 263n. 67, 267n. 113, 269nn. 139, 2, 271n. 12, 280n. 107, 286nn. 21, 30, 287n. 41 Kaprow, Allan, and, 247nn. 58, 59, 265n. 86 Kubler, George, and, 145147, 164, 191, 238n. 11, 274nn. 36, 37, 41


land reclamation projects, 232, 233 language and, 70, 82, 88, 130133, 143156, 184185, 187191, 272n. 14 (see also Smithson, Robert, and Barthes, Roland; Smithson, Robert, cartography; Smithson, Robert, and Kubler, George; Structure; Structuralism) coded environment and, 144145, 146, 149, 156, 199, 273n. 32, 274nn. 33, 35 linguistic object and, 151 prime object and, 145, 146, 147, 274n. 37 replica-mass and, 145, 146, 147, 274n. 37 transparency and, 151, 155156, 179180, 188189, 191 Lvi-Strauss and, 186187, 197, 210, 285n. 9 library, xii, xiii, xv, 59, 96, 141, 174, 238n. 16, 252n. 111, 259n. 24, 264n. 73, 273n. 28 Life and, 23, 167168, 170, 183184, 183, 234, 252n. 106, 279n. 100 mannerism and, 6566, 74, 213214, 221, 254n. 122, 128, 290291n. 80, 293n.108 Marker, Chris, La Jete and, 135, 162, 223, 264n. 77 metropolis and, xvii, 84, 8889, 92, 93, 100, 102104, 106, 107, 112, 115116, 117118, 120121, 203, 259n. 24, 260n. 29, 261n. 45, 267n. 106, 272n. 15 mine and, 106, 199202, 200, 201, 203, 227, 286nn. 20, 21, 288n. 47 minimalism and, 2528, 74, 116, 243n. 7, 243244n. 11, 256nn. 144, 145, 258n. 9, 268n. 124 mirror displacements, 134, 164, 168, 171, 172, 173, 174, 177182, 178, 181, 185, 186187, 196, 197, 199, 200, 206, 213, 214215, 226, 280n. 104, 288n. 47 (see also Smithson, Robert, works, Cayuga Salt Mine Project, Incidents of MirrorTravel in the Yucatan, Mirror Shore) modernism and, xvi, 57, 66, 91, 137, 213, 241n. 19, 261n. 36 montage and, 223224, 226, 232 monuments and, 109, 119, 162, 185, 264n. 71, 266n. 104, 267n. 116, 289n. 65 (see also Smithson, Robert, ruins; Smithson, Robert, works, The Bridge Monument Showing Wooden Sidewalks, Entropy and the New Monuments, The Fountain Monument, A Guide to the Monuments of Passaic New Jersey, The Monument: An Outline for a Film, The Monuments of Passaic, Negative Map Showing Region of the Monuments of Passaic River, The Sand-Box Monument [also called The Desert]) Morris, Robert, and, 2526, 27, 28, 80, 146, 147,

148149, 150, 156, 216, 256n. 144, 258n. 3, 274n. 41, 275n. 51 Natural History Museum and, 106, 222, 231, 265n. 92, 270n. 8, 271272n. 13, 279n. 99 nonsite, 126127, 128, 130, 131133, 134, 138, 156160, 159, 162163, 177, 183, 196, 198, 199, 203, 207, 208, 213, 265n. 92, 270nn. 6, 7, 271nn. 12, 13, 277n. 79, 277278n. 81, 280n. 104, 282283n. 131, 285n. 12 (see also Smithson, Robert, exhibitions; Nonsites, Dwan Gallery, New York; Smithson, Robert, works, Dialectic of Site and Nonsite, A Non-Site (an indoor earthwork), Nonsite, Line of Wreckage, Bayonne, New Jersey, Nonsite #2, A Provisional Theory of NonSites, Six Stops on a Section) pathetic fallacy and, 72, 232, 255n. 255, 255 256n. 137 phenomenology and, 264n. 73 photography and, xiv, xvxvi, xviii, 2, 3, 6, 1722, 18, 20, 21, 22, 25, 28, 57, 6162, 63, 79, 80, 93, 95100, 96, 97, 99, 101, 104, 107, 108112, 109, 113, 114, 119, 137, 141142, 157, 159, 164, 165, 168, 171, 173, 174, 177182, 178, 181, 184, 186187, 191, 197, 199, 207209, 208, 211, 212, 213, 216, 220, 221222, 223, 225226, 231, 232, 237n. 7, 238n. 17, 242nn. 4, 5, 253n. 116, 261n. 45, 262263n. 61, 263nn. 62, 65, 264n. 84, 265nn. 86, 97, 266nn. 100, 103, 104, 105, 273n. 22, 276n. 56, 280n. 104, 281n. 117, 288nn. 47, 54, 292n. 95 pollution and, 207, 215217, 231 prime object and, 145, 146, 147, 274n. 37 (see also Smithson, Robert, and Kubler, George) ready-made and, 7980, 8283, 98, 100, 258n. 9 replica-mass and, 145, 146, 147, 274n. 37 (see also Smithson, Robert, and Kubler, George) ruins and, 114115, 116, 117, 118, 162, 165, 172173, 207, 231, 232, 267n. 114, 285n. 9 satellite and, 8081, 150, 163, 191 science fiction and, 79, 8082, 101, 105, 184, 254n. 128, 257258n. 3, 258n. 11, 260n. 29, 283n. 134 site/nonsite, 130133, 159160, 197198 stereoscope and, 60, 6061, 62, 63, 64, 7072, 74, 9293, 96, 98, 108, 130, 180, 187, 209, 223, 227, 252n. 111, 253nn. 114, 118 stills and, 103, 107, 108, 113, 114, 150, 180, 191, 210, 211, 222223, 225226, 228229, 264n. 77, 267n. 106, 292293n. 106 structuralism and, xvxvi, 8, 134, 143, 144, 145, 147, 186187, 188189, 191, 197, 238n. 16, 272n. 17, 273n. 28, 274n. 33, 290291n. 80



Smithson, Robert (cont.) taboo and totem and, 207213, 215, 217, 222, 227231, 232, 288n. 53, 289n. 67 Tibbetts, Abbott, McCarthy, and Stratton (TAMS) and, 133134, 135, 139, 142, 151, 157, 160, 272nn. 15, 19, 275n. 51, 55 transparency and, 15, 19, 24, 155156, 179180, 189, 191 Williams, William Carlos and, 10, 117, 118, 217, 241242n. 21, 267n. 110, 268n. 129 works: Abstract Mannerism, 6566, 74, 254nn. 122, 123, 125, 126, 290291n. 80 Aerial Art, 156n. 77 Afterthought Enantiomorphic Chambers, 6164, 63, 209, 253nn. 116, 117 Alogon, 1722, 18, 20, 21, 22, 30, 62, 74, 125, 158 Alogon #2, 23, 2425, 24, 3031, 72, 125, 244n. 16, 253n. 114, 257n. 148 Alogon #3, 17, 18 Altered image from Nudist Sun, 211213, 212 Art Through the Cameras Eye, 207208, 213n. 55, 221222, 231, 287288n. 46 The Artist as Site-Seer or Coded Environments (The Artist as Site-Seer; or, A Dintorphic Essay), 144148, 152nn. 65, 67, 272n. 17, 273nn. 29, 32, 274n. 33, 275nn. 49, 50, 276n. 65, 290291n. 80 Asphalt Rundown, 195 Atlantic City, 275n. 51 The Bridge Monument Showing Wooden Sidewalks, 108, 109, 110 Broken Circle/Spiral Hill, 291n. 86, 293n. 107 Cayuga Salt Mine Project, 106, 173, 199, 200, 286n. 20, 288n. 47 A Cinematic Atopia, 223n. 87, 226227, 228 229, 292n. 99 Cryosphere, 244n. 13 The Crystal Land, 70, 7983, 89, 92, 102, 103, 105, 143, 150, 164, 257n. 2, 258n. 11, 259nn. 20, 21, 260n. 29, 262n. 54, 265n. 88, 268n. 124 Dialectic of Site and Nonsite, 159160n. 84 The Domain of the Great Bear (with Mel Bochner), 184n. 135, 283n. 135 Donald Judd, 65n. 122, 254n. 122, 257n. 2 Drawing in Kennecott Annual Report, 232, 233 Drawing for Leaning Strata, 127, 129 Drawing for Pointless Vanishing Point, 9495, 95, 98, 263n. 63 Drawing in Southall, Introduction to Physiological Optics, 5960, 60, 61, 223, 252n. 111, 253n. 114

Drawing in Terminal Area Concepts, 135138, 136, 149150, 153, 272n. 19 Earth Map for Mexico (Gondwanaland), 279n. 96 Earth Map of Sulfur & Tar (Cambrian Period), 279n. 96 Earthmap of Gondwanaland Ice Cap, 165167, 166, 173, 279n. 96, 98 Ecology and the Incest Taboo, 289n. 67 Eight-Part Piece (Cayuga Salt Mine Project), 199, 200 The Eliminator, 58, 5859, 70, 213, 251252n. 106 Enantiomorphic Chambers, xvii, 5961, 62, 64, 70, 71, 72, 9293, 107, 130, 196, 198, 209, 223, 227, 239n. 19, 243n. 11, 252n. 111, 253nn. 116, 118 Entropic Pole, 271n. 13 Entropy and the New Monuments, 28n. 17, 80nn. 7, 8, 82n. 18, 103, 243n. 7, 257258n. 3 First Mirror Displacement, 168, 171 The Fountain Monument, 112, 266n. 104, 267n. 110, 288n. 48 Fourth Mirror Displacement, 174 Frederick Law Olmsted and the Dialectical Landscape, 218n. 67, 256n. 140, 289n. 67 From Ivan the Terrible to Roger Corman or Paradoxes of Conduct in Mannerism as Reflected in the Cinema, 219220, 221, 290n. 73, 290291n. 80, 293n. 108 The Gallery Interior as a Tragic Site, 43, 44 Glass Stratum, 141, 141, 158 A Guide to the Monuments of Passaic New Jersey, 101104, 114, 203, 264nn. 71, 73, 80, 81 Gyrostasis, 125 A Heap of Language, 276n. 61 Hidden Trails in Art, 281n. 117 High Sierra, 55, 56, 213, 250nn. 94, 95 Homage to Carmen Miranda, 55, 250n. 95 The Iconography of Desolation, 57n. 100, 251n. 100 Incidents of Mirror-Travel in the Yucatan, 164, 165, 168, 171, 172174, 175182, 178, 181, 184185, 186187, 191, 214215, 217, 240n. 11, 287288n. 92, 279n. 96, 279280n. 103, 280nn. 104, 106, 107, 109, 281n. 113, 282n. 129 Interpolation of the Enantiomorphic Chambers, 5960n. 110, 111, 70n. 133, 82n. 19, 162n. 86 Island of Broken Glass, 217, 289nn. 64, 65 Language to be Looked at and/or Things to be Read, 151n. 62 Leaning Strata, 124, 125126, 127, 127, 130, 270nn. 4, 8 Look, 239n. 3 Map of Broken Glass (Atlantis), 215, 216217


Map Fragment (Polar Map), 270271n. 9 Mirage, 263n. 69 Mirror Shore, 173 Mirror Stratum, 141, 263n. 69, 273n. 22 Mirror Vortices, 66, 255n. 129 The Missing Vanishing Point, 255n. 129 The Monument: An Outline for a Film, 83, 162, 278n. 87 The Monuments of Passaic, 93, 94, 102, 104, 105121, 109, 119, 177, 180, 184, 191, 196, 223, 262n. 59, 262263n. 61, 263264n. 70, 264n. 83, 84, 265nn. 87, 94, 97, 266nn. 103, 104, 267nn. 110, 114, 268n. 124, 269n. 135, 273n. 22, 279n. 94, 288n. 48 A Museum of Language in the Vicinity of Art, 184, 254255n. 128, 267n. 106, 268n. 131, 276n. 61, 282n. 123, 292293n. 106 The Museum of the Void, 43, 44, 247248n. 59 Negative Map Showing Region of the Monuments of Passaic River, 9398, 94, 262n. 59, 262263n. 61, 263n. 62, 65, 273n. 22 New Jersey, New York with 2 Photos, 98100, 99 A Non-Site (an indoor earthwork), 126127, 128, 131133, 156159, 159, 162163, 270n. 6, 277nn. 79, 80, 277278n. 81, 278n. 87 Nonsite,Line of Wreckage, Bayonne, New Jersey, 203, 204, 207 Nonsite #2, 271n. 13, 277n. 79 Outline for Yale Symposium, 255256n. 137, 256n. 145 Partially Buried Woodshed, 194, 195197, 198, 199, 201202, 203205, 226, 232, 284285n. 6, 285n. 8, 287n. 32 The Pathetic Fallacy in Esthetics, 69n. 132, 72n. 139, 255n. 132, 256n. 140 Photo-Markers, 208209, 208, 213 Picturable Situations and Infra-Maps, 153n. 69, 232n. 108, 276n. 69, 290291n. 80 Plunge, 25, 2627, 27, 125, 158, 244n. 13, 16 Pointless Vanishing Point, 9498, 95, 96, 97, 124, 125, 130, 263n. 63 Pointless Vanishing Points, 61n. 115, 71n. 135, 9293, 98, 252n. 111, 255n. 129 Proposals for Earthworks and Landmarks to Be Built on the Fringes of the Fort WorthDallas Regional Air Terminal Site, 149nn. 54, 56 A Provisional Theory of Non-Sites, 131n. 9 Quasi-Infinities and the Waning of Space, 7172, 191n. 159, 238n. 14, 255n. 132, 137, 256n. 140 A Refutation of Historical Humanism, 290n. 73

Ruin of Map Hipparchus (100 B.C.) in Oswego Lake, 259n. 16 The Sand-Box Monument (also called The Desert), 117, 119 A Sedimentation of the Mind: Earth Projects, 88, 169172n. 101, 176n. 112, 188n. 151, 262n. 49, 277n. 71, 287n. 41 Seventh Mirror Displacement, 180, 181 Shift, 124, 125, 127, 269n. 1, 270n. 7, 272n. 14 A Short Description of Two Mirrored Crystal Structures, 79n. 6, 255n. 131 Sinistral Spiral, 125 Sites and Settings, 264n. 71 Six Stops on a Section, 208 Some Void Thoughts on Museums, 45, 153n. 68, 247248n. 59, 248n. 60 Spiral Jetty, xi, 222, 223, 224, 225, 227, 231, 292n. 95 The Spiral Jetty, 222223, 224226, 227, 228229, 231232, 292n. 98 The Spiral Jetty, 159160; A Surd View for an Afternoon, xvii, 189, 190 Swamp, 258n. 5; Tar Pool and Gravel Pit, 153, 154, 277n. 72; Terminal, 158, 158, 278n. 82 Terminal: Plans for Dallas-Fort Worth Regional Airport, 138139, 139, 142, 158 Texas Airport, 137138, 137 Third Mirror Displacement, 180, 182, 214, 279280n. 103 Three Earth Windows (under broken glass), 153, 153, 155156 Three Side Views of Concrete or Wooden Foundations to be Plotted on Level Ground, 153, 154, 277n. 72 Three-Sided Vortices, 255n. 129, 277n. 72 Three Works in Metal and Plastic, 66, 67, 80 Towards the Development of an Air Terminal Site, 82n. 17, 88, 148, 148, 149n. 55, 150nn. 58, 59, 151, 152nn. 65, 66, 156, 261n. 41, 277n. 75 Towards the Development of a Cinema Cavern, 227, 230 Two Attitudes Toward The City, 259n. 25, 260n. 29 Untitled, 19631964, 66, 68; Untitled, 1964 1965, 66, 69, 69, 78, 79; Untitled, c. 1966, 138 139, 139 Untitled (Air Terminal-Windows), 155n. 73, 156, 277n. 75 Untitled (Antarctica), 127, 129, 157, 277278n. 81 Untitled (Classical Head), 213, 214, 226 Untitled (folded map of Beaufort Inlet), 127, 129; Untitled (Hysteria), 210, 211



Smithson, Robert (cont.) Untitled (Map on Mirror-Passaic, New Jersey), 141142, 142, 263n. 69, 273n. 22 Untitled (Site Data), 188189nn. 152, 153, 154 Urination Map of the Constellation Hydra, 215, 216217, 216, 288nn. 58, 60 A Web of White Gravel, 160, 161 What Is a Museum? (with Allan Kaprow), 247n. 58 World Ocean Map (Hammers Equal Area Projection), 270271n. 9 Snow, Michael, 265n. 98 Southall, James P. C., Introduction to Physiological Optics, 60, 60, 61, 252n. 111, 253n. 114 Spiral Jetty, xi, 222, 223, 224, 225, 227, 231, 292n. 95 The Spiral Jetty, 222223, 224226, 227, 228229, 231232, 292n. 98 Stanislavsky, Constantine, 219220 Steinberg, Leo, 42 Stella, Frank, 21, 46, 49, 248n. 67 Stephens, John Lloyd, Incidents of Travel in Yucatan, 172, 176177, 281nn. 113, 114 Stereoscope, 32, 33, 48, 49, 52, 60, 6061, 62, 63, 64, 7072, 74, 9293, 96, 97, 98, 108, 130, 140, 180, 187, 209, 223, 227, 252n. 111, 112, 113, 253n. 114, 118, 261n. 46 Stonehenge, 144145, 146, 147, 148149, 273274n. 32, 274n. 35 Structuralism, xii, xvxvi, 8, 134, 143144, 145, 147, 185187, 188, 191, 197, 205, 238n. 16, 257n. 152, 272n. 17, 273n. 28, 274n. 33, 285n. 9, 290 291n. 80. See also Barthes, Roland; Lvi-Strauss, Claude Structure, xiii, xv, xvi, 2, 3, 33, 48, 49, 60, 62, 64, 65, 66, 70, 74, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 88, 9293, 100, 103, 108, 116, 125, 132, 133, 135, 143144, 146, 150, 151, 152, 153, 156, 156157, 188, 189, 197, 198, 199, 201, 203, 205, 213, 223, 226, 227, 239n. 1, 254n. 128, 255n. 131, 257nn. 2, 3, 258n. 9, 268n. 124, 271n. 13, 273nn. 23, 25, 280n. 103. See also Primary Structures: Young British and American Sculptors; Structuralism Thompson, J. Eric S., Maya Hieroglyphic Writing, 184185, 279280n. 103 Tibbetts, Abbott, McCarthy, and Stratton (TAMS), 133134, 135, 139, 142, 151, 157, 160, 272n. 15, 275n. 51, 55. See also Aerial Art; Air terminal; Smithson, Robert Toner, Paul. See Smithson, Robert, interviews with Towards a New Abstraction, 46, 47, 248n. 67, 254n. 123

Transparency, 15, 19, 24, 2526, 29, 36, 75, 85, 151, 155156, 179180, 189, 191 Tsai, Eugenie, 236n. 2, 237n. 6, 258n. 11 Tyler, Parker, 227, 241n. 18, 287288n. 46, 292n. 100 Underground Film, 8, 227, 230, 241nn. 17, 18, 287288n. 46, 292n. 100 Vasarely, Victor, 87, 248n. 67, 249n. 83 Venturi, Robert, 8687, 88, 89, 90, 91, 106, 112, 118, 240241n. 16, 260n. 35, 261n. 36, 262n. 53. See also Brown, Denise Scott Vernon, M. D., The Psychology of Perception, 29, 3134, 42, 64, 245nn. 19, 27, 253n. 119 Vietnam, 4, 187, 203204, 281n. 117 Vollmer, Ruth, 251n. 102 Wachsmann, Konrad, The Turning Point of Building: Structures and Design, 151, 152, 259n. 24, 276n. 64 Warhol, Andy, 8, 65, 221 Wheatstone, Sir Charles, 96, 97, 253n. 114. See also Stereoscope Wheeler, Dennis. See Smithson, Robert, interviews with Whitman, Walt, 218 Williams, William Carlos, 810, 117, 118, 217, 241n. 21, 267n. 110, 268n. 129, 286n. 26 Wittgenstein, Ludwig, 277nn. 70, 71 Worringer, Wilhelm, Abstraction and Empathy, 72, 221222, 256n. 140, 291n. 84 Zero degree, 188189, 203