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BOOKS

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Site Unseen: Terry Smith by Mel Gooding, James Putnam and Terry Smith. emh Arts/Eagle Graphics, 1997. 48pp. £26 (Available from 0171 833 2674)

When Bankside Power Station was being gutted prior to its Tate conversion, Terry Smith was one of six artists invited to respond to the building, writes Andrew Mead. Some produced paintings or drawings; Smith instead created works in situ. Taking a cue from features or chance objects in his immediate surroundings, he stripped off paint, plaster and cement to make ephemeral images on the power station walls.

Site Unseen documents a subsequent project of Smith's, in a South London house that was due to be pulled down. What he did - his own localised, calculated demolition - survives as photographs. He delved beneath surfaces, revealing ranks of battens and laths; he made incisions in walls, vertical slots to link once separate spaces. And along with the simple geometry of these new cuts and of the existing frames (a door, a window) came a counterpoint of chaos: random piles of fallen plaster, a tangle of suspended cables.

With translucent overlays, perforated strips and fold-outs, this limited edition book (1000 copies) makes its readers vicarious participants in Smith's process of uncovering. Rachel Whiteread's House was redolent of transience and mortality; so too are Smith's domestic excavations, as Mel Gooding spells out in his elegiac text.

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