Aerial Art

Robert Smithson
1969
Art today is no longer an architectural afterthought, or an object to attach to a building after it is finished, but rather a total engagement with the building process from the ground up and from the sky down. The old landscape of naturalism and realism is being replaced by the new landscape of abstraction and artifice.

Towards the Development of an Air Terminal Site

Robert Smithson
1967
Since July, 1966 I’ve been rendering consultation and advice as an “artist consultant” to Tippetts-Abbett-McCarthy-Stratton (Engineers and Architects). The project concerns the development of an air terminal between Fort Worth and Dallas. From time to time, after studying various maps, surveys, reports, specifications, and construction models, I meet with Walther Prokosch, John Gardner and Ernest Schwiebert in order to discuss the overall plan. I have engaged in these discussions not as an architect or engineer, but simply as an artist. The discussions do not operate on any presupposed notion of art, engineering or architecture. The problems disclose themselves, as we encounter them. Everything follows an exploratory path.

A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey

Robert Smithson
1967

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
1968

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.