A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey

Robert Smithson

He laughed softly. I know. There’s no way out. Not through the Barrier. Maybe that isn’t what I want, after all. But this—this—’ He stared at the Monument. ‘It seems all wrong sometimes. I just can’t explain it. It’s the whole city. It makes me feel haywire. Then I get these flashes—’

—Henry Kuttner, Jesting Pilot

. . . today our unsophisticated cameras record in their own way our hastily assembled and painted world.

—Vladimir Nabokov, Invitation to a Beheading

A Provisional Theory of Nonsites

Robert Smithson

By drawing a diagram, a ground plan of a house, a street plan to the location of a site, or a topographic map, one draws a “logical two dimensional picture.” A “logical picture” differs from a natural or realistic picture in that it rarely looks like the thing it stands for. It is a two dimensional analogy or metaphor—A is Z.