“Instead of causing us to remember the past like the old monuments, the new monuments seem to cause us to forget the future. Instead of being made of natural materials, such as marble, granite, plastic, chrome, and electric light. They are not built for the ages, but rather against the ages. They are involved in a systematic reduction of time down to fractions of seconds, rather than in representing the long spaces of centuries. Both past and future are placed into an objective present. This kind of time has little or no space; it is stationary and without movement, it is going nowhere, it is anti-Newtonian, as well as being instant, and is against the wheels of the time-clock.”
–Robert Smithson, “Entropy and the New Monuments,” 1966
In his 1966 essay, “Entropy and the New Monuments,” Robert Smithson described a new monumentality, perceiving an entropic vision of the future manifest in the art, architecture, writing and film of the time. Within popular culture, Smithson recognized a futuristic vision of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that the level of entropy, or chaos within systems will continuously increase and that ultimately the entire universe will burn out, transforming into absolute neutrality. Jean-Luc Godard’s film, “Alphaville,” released a year earlier, in 1965, suggests a dystopic ideal of the future. Godard portrays a society in which infrastructure has developed such severe strategies of social control, abolishing words and deleting history as a means of suppressing the only remaining freedom– emotion.