Symposium: Robert Smithson: Time Crystals

Saturday, 2 June 2018

1.00 pm – 5.30 pm

Join us for an afternoon of lectures and discussion in conjunction with our current exhibition Robert Smithson: Time Crystals.

1:00 – 1:10  

Welcome and Acknowledgments: Dr Campbell Gray, Director, University of Queensland Art Museum

1:10 – 2:10 

Curators’ Lecture: Dr Amelia Barikin and Professor Chris McAuliffe, curators Robert Smithson: Time Crystals

2:10 – 2:30 

Afternoon tea

2:30 – 3:30 

Keynote Lecture: “Feeling in Space and Time: Smithson’s Cinematics”, Associate Professor Ann Reynolds, Department of Art and Art History, University of Texas at Austin


“Remote” is an adjective that clings to most descriptions of Robert Smithson’s earthworks. However, remoteness is primarily an individual, affective response to these works and not a quality inherent to them, one that depends on relative experiences of time and space. Remoteness is also a cinematic condition and a cinematic effect, which Robert Smithson clearly appreciated and sought to exploit. In his 1971 essay “A Cinematic Atopia,” he remarks: “The longer we look through a camera or watch a projected image the remoter the world becomes, yet we begin to understand that remoteness more”. Smithson’s observation relies on a central paradox of cinema: its ability to represent a remote and yet simultaneously proximate world, both a “here” and a “there” as well as a “then” and a “now”. Through a close reading of Smithson’s film The Spiral Jetty in relation to several other, roughly contemporary, cinematically inflected descriptions of spatio-temporal remoteness, I will consider the central role of mediation, and cinema in particular, in Smithson’s work, its legacy and his wider historical moment.

3:30 – 4:30 

Roundtable chaired by Charles Green, Professor of Contemporary Art, University of Melbourne

4:30 – 5:30 




FREE. All welcome. RSVP early to avoid disappointment.

Dr Amelia Barikin is Lecturer, Art History, in the School of Communication and Arts at the University of Queensland, Brisbane.

Chris McAuliffe is Professor (Practice-led Research) in the School of Art & Design at the Australian National University, Canberra.

Associate Professor Ann Reynolds is the author of Robert Smithson: Learning From New Jersey and Elsewhere (MIT Press, 2003), which has been recently translated into French as Du New Jersey au Yucatán, leçons d’ailleurs (SIC Editions, 2014).

Charles Green is Professor of Contemporary Art in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne. Author of Peripheral Vision (Craftsman House, 1996) and The Third Hand (U Minnesota Press, 2001), he recently published a history of biennials in contemporary art, Biennials, Triennials and Documenta: The Exhibitions that Created Contemporary Art (Wiley Blackwell, 2016), with Associate Professor Anthony Gardner (Oxford University), assisted by an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant. Lyndell Brown and Charles Green have worked in collaboration as one artist since 1989. They have made works that depict Smithson’s Spiral Jetty (1970), and have visited the Utah site.

Robert Smithson: Time Crystals is a partnership between The University of Queensland Art Museum and Monash University Museum of Art.


This exhibition is made possible through support from the Terra Foundation for American Art. 


The exhibition has been developed in cooperation with the Holt-Smithson Foundation.

Robert Smithson Spiral Jetty 1970 (still) digital transfer of 16 mm film, colour, sound 32:00 minutes Courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix, New York Image courtesy of Holt-Smithson Foundation © Holt-Smithson Foundation/VAGA. Licensed by Viscopy, 2017