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Themesicon: navigation pathArt and Cinematographyicon: navigation pathDeserts of the Political

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corresponds to the blank audience member: in the boxlike rooms, or «dark chambers» of the new minimalist cinema architecture of the 1960s, Smithson writes, time is compressed and stops; the audience is put into an «entropic condition.» «To spend time in a movie house is to make a «hole» in one s life.»[67] This process of emptying (or perforating) the life of the viewer in the cinematic pressure cabin of time can also be understood as a process of «zombification.» The person at the movies is extracted from time. He loses his human temporality, becomes undead. As such, he resembles the robots and automatons in films by Hitchcock and Corman, but also the passive characters created by Antonioni s esthetics of modern alienation, who are unrealized, hollowed out by their artificial, unemotional surroundings. For the French film and art theorist Jean Louis Schefer, the «normal person in the cinema» is the «person who sits there, the virtual pole of the cinematic apparatus and image.» Sitting in the movie theater, he experiences entirely «the momentary life of an inchoate human being,» meaning, a person at the beginning, who can do nothing else but «begin to wean, to disaccustom himself from the


world.»[68] In other words, we become parentless replicates, controlled by an automaton working within us or standing behind us, confining us in a phantom-like state. The total loss of context in the movies, the separation of biography and biology, entering timelessness: Smithson s «ultimate filmgoer» appears to be the ultimate inchoate human being, «a prisoner of inertia.» «Films would follow films, until the action of each one would drown in a vast reservoir of pure perception. He would not be able to distinguish between good and bad films, all would be swallowed up into an endless blur &«[69] This kind of vegetation in the multimedia cave is the end of reception a trance condition without hope of redemption. It is the opposite, too, of the germinating anarchic activity that differentiates the youths in «Zabriskie Point» from the passive zombiecitizens in the «common space» of earlier Antonioni films. The final consequence is that the position of the inchoate human being is a catastrophic one, a total, phantasmagorical dissolution of internal and external. Smithson calmly and quietly

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