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

icon: previous page

had been shown on American television since September of 1960, form another possible basis.[63] In a 1966 article, Smithson had already written about artists who had seen an «infinite number of movies.» These artists do not leave the city to study the landscape, but visit the theaters on 42nd street instead. There, they watch movies such as Horror at Party Beach (Del Tenney, 1964) or other trashy productions from the genres of horror or science fiction. «Such artists have Xray eyes, and can see through all of that cloddish substance that passes for «the deep and profound» these days.»[64] «X-ray eyes»[65] made it possible for artists to see through superficiality and empty sophistication. These modern primitives, with their technical, scientifically developed sensoria, penetrate the cultural pretensions of highbrow attitude. Science fiction and horror immunize against the temptation of supposed «high culture.» The artist with x-ray vision is a cyborg who craves neither soul nor sense, but is instead dedicated to studying the geomorphology of «low culture.» This (self)image of a post-human primitive with optical prostheses is not immaterial to the understanding of Smithson s cultural theory. It is


not the only persona taken on by the artist, but it represents a position outside of the cultural values system and humanist concepts of the subject, which is part of a program for dedifferentiating historically and socially constructed hierarchies. These x-ray vision artists are conditioned by their preferences: someone who likes horror is rather an emotional type; someone who is attracted to science fiction is called «perceptive.» For his image of the artist in the movie theater, Smithson rejects the assumption of autonomy and freedom, which are also idealistic aspects of the philosophy of the subject. It is possible to mention a process of hollowing out, the systematic creation of a void without a center, a movement toward the degré zero, which is perfected in the center of the postwar modern era in the works of Roland Barthes, Samuel Beckett, John Cage, Andy Warhol, J.G. Ballard, and many others. Smithson is hardly tortured by fears of loss. In two texts from the period around 1967 68, he celebrates the end of character acting in Alfred Hitchcock and Roger Corman films. In the films of both directors, actors move like dehumanized androids across a stage of timeless artificiality.[66] The blank actor

icon: next page