Entropy and the art of Robert Smithson : a search for meaning in the Spiral jetty
Blake, Susan C.
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The purpose of this research is to explore the element of entropy in the art of Robert Smithson with emphasis on the meaning and implications of the concept of entropy in relation to his earth sculpture Spiral Jetty. In providing a foundation for examining the Spiral Jetty/ Chapter I of this thesis investigates the manifestation of entropy in his writings and in his works of art other than the Spiral Jetty, most of which were created prior to 1970 (the year the Spiral Jetty was built). Chapter II focuses on entropy and the Spiral Jetty itself. The reappearance and crystallization of previous ideas, as well as the emergence of new ideas and unique situations concerning entropy, will be discussed. Chapter III concentrates on the overall significance of entropy in the Spiral Jetty. The Jetty uniquely expresses Smithson's view of and approach toward art, as well as toward the landscape, man-made systems, and society as a whole. In summary, the Spiral Jetty embodies Smithson's conceptualization of entropy as a world view. This view, like that which has obsessed so many artists of the modern generation, is essentially existentialist in nature. However, it is Smithson's unique vision of modern existence that forms the substance of, and interest in, his work.