“Follow the Scale of the Earth:” Robert Smithson and Globalization
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How to Cite

Hansen, M. (2023). “Follow the Scale of the Earth:” Robert Smithson and Globalization. American Studies, 62(1/2). https://journals.ku.edu/amsj/article/view/18668


Media have long been central to the discussion of the artistic practice of Robert Smithson. Situated somewhere between conceptual art and mixed media, the works of Smithson, consisting of earth, rocks, film, words, and constellations of concepts, by their very existence challenge the perceived one-dimensionality of the works of the modernist painters and sculptors that came before them. Beyond Smithson’s defiance of the artistic tradition, however, few have delved more closely into the theory of media implicit in Smithson’s writing and works and how it relates to what would later come to be called globalization. In this paper, I argue that Smithson’s work should be seen as fundamentally global rather than as the work of a quintessentially American artist that eventually made it to the world stage. Smithson’s practice not only foreshadows later arguments by such media studies scholars as John Durham Peters, it also challenges the tradition of American landscape art. In works such as The Spiral Jetty, Smithson gave us a conceptual apparatus by which to imagine the globe as a unified space.

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