Jeffrey Smart

Stop 16 of 32

The edge of a large cylindrical brick tower is visible on the right hand side of the painting, with a bright sign hanging off it and pointing to the left. Behind this rises a control tower. A small number of people are standing across the base of the tower about a third of the way up the painting.

Jeffrey Smart
Control tower

Creation date: c. 1969

Control tower
c 1969 Rome, Italy
oil on canvas
91.5 x 72.5 cm
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
Gift of the Friends of the Art Gallery of South Australia 1970
© The Estate of Jeffrey Smart

The notion of technologies tracking people’s movements is common in many parts of the world today. Yet when radar and satellite devices emerged in the mid-twentieth century, they appeared strange and potentially threatening. The massive control tower that dwarfs the tiny human figures at the base of this work draws together these ideas. Smart commented on the relationship between people and these new technologies in Art International in 1968, hinting at its strangeness: ‘A man is logical on horseback; but in a satellite, surreal.’