Note: If you see this text you use a browser which does not support usual Web-standards. Therefore the design of Media Art Net will not display correctly. Contents are nevertheless provided. For greatest possible comfort and full functionality you should use one of the recommended browsers.

Themesicon: navigation pathArt and Cinematographyicon: navigation pathDeserts of the Political
Wavelength (Snow, Michael), 1967

icon: previous page

choosing the location, and deciding how to edit the film from sixty to three hours, there are many more parts to Smithson s mix of esthetic criteria. In a posthumously published essay from 1971, Smithson writes of his experiences with the «wilderness of Cameraland,» the «wilderness created by the camera.» Smithson is not able to get really excited. Cameras had lives of their own; it was difficult to imagine an « &Infinite Camera without an ego.»[59] Smithson fantasized about a horror film with the working title «Invasion of the Camera Robots,» in which cyclopean cameras would terrorize a photography shop. The big issue was: how does one deal with the unavoidable, simultaneously productive and destructive presence of cameras, of abstraction machines? How does art/the artist behave toward the camera? There is no solution. Or is there perhaps one &? Michael Snow's «Wavelength», for instance, earns Smithson s attention: after all, this film successfully dried up the ocean into a photograph. Smithson also appears to be interested in the fact that Snow goes out into the actual landscape with «a delirious camera of his own invention.»[60] Snow produces a camera wilderness, which must have been suspect and at the


same time welcome to Smithson. Toward the end of his essay, Smithson indirectly admits that wild cameras could make a considerable contribution to the work of deterritorializing and decentralizing a society s narrative patterns. These thoughts, elliptically spoken, imagine a kind of film and photographic discourse that is infected by anti-narrativism a point of view that also includes the radical dissection of the subject of perception.

The Desert as Filmic Subject

Over a period of several years, Smithson elaborated upon a particular type of media subject. In his 1971 essay «A Cinematic Atopia,«[61] Smithson presents the preliminary result of this developing work, the «ultimate moviegoer«: a sleepy figure of radical passivity and receptivity who can no longer differentiate and only knows the «endless blur» of film. Smithson s site for this model film figure is a cinema, which would be built in a cave or an abandoned mine. Only one movie would be shown in this theater: a film depicting the construction of the cinema. Smithson placed a great deal of emphasis on the «prehistoric»

icon: next page