Aerial Arts

Defense Discourses & Cartographic Critiques

Aerial Arts explores Air-Age cartography, Arctic geopolitics, and their critique in 60s post-minimal art. Infographic boards chart the polar projections, oblique ‘over-views,’ and immersive geographies shared between (civil) defense discourses and the ‘Aerial Arts’ of Robert Smithson, Walter de Maria, and Stewart Brand.

Global, Intimate, & Militarized Mapping

Reflecting on today’s aerial defense discourses, the Aerial Arts exhibit explored ‘mapping’ in several artists of the late 60s, as they engaged with increasingly familiar aerial imagery and ‘aerial’ maps. Alternating between space-race responses and antecedent, Air-Age forms, the show’s infographic boards explored the intimate, tactile address of cartographic ephemera that was used in cultivating a corporeal, yet national ‘space’ of aerial, atomic anxiety between WWII and the 1960s. Several speakers – William Fox, Laura Kurgan, and others – participated in round-table talks on historical and critical aerial-mapping practices.

Situating Situating (Beyond Minimalist Phenomenology)

Schematically, Aerial Arts’ first four boards address the oft domestic engagements with aerial maps, in Air-Age propaganda texts and magazines (’39-on), as appropriated in Robert Smithson’s ‘Aerial Arts’ ( ’64-68). The second half of the series turned to ‘public,’ pop-sci forms of aerial representation and their reflection in Walter de Maria’s appeals to satellite sensing. In addition to infographics and lectures, the exhibit incorporated period publications meant to be handled and skimmed, offering the aesthetic conditioning/context embedded in ’60s conceptual/magazine art.


Meg Studer conducted the research and developed the infographics and layout (above) for the Aerial Arts exhibition, at Studio-X NYC, an extension of Columbia University’s GSAPP. It included boards, booklets, reprints and period atlases  as a reflection on our material immersion (and attentive absorption) within historical spatial imaginaries.

  • 2013, Aerial Arts, Studio-X NYC (Columbia University).
  • 2015, “Robert Smithson’s Spatial Imaginaries,” College Association of Art, Annual Conference.
  • Misc design blogs / pr: Speaker’s Schedule, Bustler, Kickstarter, etc.
  • csv – misc. web scrubbing of Library of Congress map publication records
  • gis – geocoding and quantitative maps
  • excel/ai – phasing/sankey/etc. summary graphics and style standards
  • psd – extensive photo reproduction of Fortune, Life, and other periodicals

Re-Situating Post-Minimal Mappings

Related projects
All Projects