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William L. Fox: Third View


Summary Note

The archive William L. Fox: Third View contains materials related to the book "Third Views, Second Sights: A Rephotographic Survey of the American West," which was a rephotographic project. Materials include field notes, correspondence, photographs, and research materials.

Biographical Note

William L. Fox is founding Director of the Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, Nevada, and has variously been called an art critic, science writer, and cultural geographer. He has published fifteen books on cognition and landscape, hundreds of essays in art monographs, magazines and journals, and fifteen collections of poetry. Among his nonfiction titles are Aereality: On the World from Above; Terra Antarctica: Looking Into the Emptiest Continent; In the Desert of Desire: Las Vegas and the Culture of Spectacle; and The Void, the Grid, and the Sign: Traversing the Great Basin. Fox is also an artist who has exhibited in numerous group and solo shows in eight countries since 1974. He has twice been a Lannan Foundation Writer in Residence.

Fox has researched and written books set in the extreme environments of the Antarctic, the Arctic, Chile, Nepal, and other locations. His work has been reviewed in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Times Literary Supplement, Artforum and Nature. He is a fellow of both the Royal Geographical Society and Explorers Club and he is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, and National Science Foundation. He has been a visiting scholar at the Getty Research Institute, Clark Art Institute, the Australian National University, and National Museum of Australia. Fox serves on the editorial advisory boards of the Archaeologies of Landscape in the Americas book series, ARID: Journal of Desert Art, Design & Ecology, and Humanities Research (Australian National University). He is currently as a visiting researcher at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design.

Scope and Content

Third View revisited the sites of historic western American landscape photographs. The project made new photographs, kept a field diary of its travels, and collected materials useful in interpreting the scenes, change and the passage of time. The Third View project began in 1997 and completed fieldwork in the year 2000. Over the course of four years the project revisited 109 historic landscape sites, all subjects of nineteenth-century American western survey photographs. The project’s "rephotographs" were made from the originals’ vantage points with as much precision as possible. Every attempt was also made to duplicate the original photographs' lighting conditions, both in time of day and year.

Most sites are represented in a series of three views taken at different times. The original photographs were taken by photographers such as Timothy O’Sullivan, William Henry Jackson, John K. Hillers, and William Bell. The photographs were made for the western geological and geographical surveys of the 1860s and ‘70s. These surveys were lead by Ferdinand V. Hayden, Clarence King, Lt. George Wheeler, and Major John Wesley Powell. The survey photographs were typically the earliest to be made in the American West, and form the baseline of an important visual record. The pictures are benchmarks for monitoring physical changes in the land as well as providing access into the earliest ways land and culture were represented by photography.

The second views, from which our third views were based, were made during the late 1970s for the Rephotographic Survey Project (please see the book Second View: the Rephotographic Survey Project, Klett, Manchester, and Verburg, the University of New Mexico Press, 1984).

Third View was created specifically to investigate changes that have occurred since the landscape sites were last photographed, a time period ranging from twenty to one hundred and thirty years. In most cases there are three photographs at each site, but Third View included over a dozen sites that had not been rephotographed previously and in those cases there are only two views presented.

Like the Rephotographic Survey Project of the 1970s, Third View made repeat photographs each site. However, unlike the earlier project Third View also attempted to record the context under which the rephotographs were made. A comprehensive website samples only the rephotographic portion of the visual and aural materials collected at each site. Collateral materials such as interviews with people associated with sites and other sound files, video clips, field notes, artifacts, personal photographs from the project team, and site-related imagery such as Quick Time Virtual Reality panoramas were also collected. This material may be seen on the project’s interactive DVD-ROM published along with the book Third Views, Second Sights: A Rephotographic Survey of the American West, Museum of New Mexico Press, 2004. The DVD includes two ways of experiencing the materials, either from a searchable database or from a more experiential "journey" which follows the routes of the field team.

From the beginning, the project explored techniques that are specifically designed for interactive programming on computers, and there were several earlier adaptations of the material, including the Third View Demonstration CD-ROM, first released in 2002. The web site includes sites visited by the project in its fieldwork as well as field notes by writer William L. Fox and other materials that may be helpful to others interested in devising their own rephotographic methodologies.

The project’s original field team included photographers Mark Klett (Project Director and
Chief Photographer for the Rephotographic Survey Project), Kyle Bajakian, Toshi Ueshina, and Byron Wolfe. Writer William L. Fox and photographer Michael Marshall later joined this group in its second and third season respectively. The project combined our interests in fine art photography, history, literature, the natural and social sciences, new digital technologies, design, and interactive media.


The William L. Fox: Third View archive is organized into eight folders. The first folder contains information about the field team and correspondence. The next five folders contain research and field notes. The seventh folder contains images under consideration for inclusion in the book, and the final folder has the project's interactive demo disk.

Inclusive Dates


Bulk Dates


Quantity / Extent

.25 cubic feet


English and Spanish

Related Archive Collections

  • CAE1215: Mark Klett and William L. Fox: The Half Life of History

Related Publications

Davis, Keith F. Timothy H. O'Sullivan: The King Survey Photographs. Kansas City, MO; New Haven, CN: Hall Family Foundation; In association with the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; Distributed by Yale University Press, 2011.

Fox, William L. View Finder: Mark Klett, Photography, and the Reinvention of Landscape. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 2001.

Klett, Mark and Kyle Bajakian ... [et al.]. Third views, Second Sights: A Rephotographic Survey of the American West. Santa Fe, NM: Museum of New Mexico Press in association with the Center for American Places, 2004.

Klett, Mark and William L. Fox. The Half-life of History: The Atomic Bomb and Wendover Air Base. Santa Fe, NM: Radius Books, 2011.

Klett, Mark, Ellen Manchester, and JoAnn Verburg. Second View: The Rephotographic Survey Project. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 1984.

Klett, Mark. After the ruins, 1906 and 2006: Rephotographing the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2006.

Klett, Mark. Mark Klett: Ideas about Time. Tempe, AZ: Arizona State University Art Museum, 2002.

Klett, Mark. Mark Klett: Time Studies. San Francisco, CA: Fort Baker Retreat Group, LLC, 2008.

Klett, Mark. Photographing Oklahoma, 1889/1991. Oklahoma City, OK: Oklahoma City Art Museum in collaboration with Portfolio Editions, 1991.

Klett, Mark. Revealing Territory: Photographs of the Southwest. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 1992.

Klett, Mark. Saguaros. Santa Fe, NM; New York, NY: Radius Books, 2007.

Klett, Mark. Third view demo disc. Tempe, Ariz.: Third View project, 2002

Klett, Mark. Traces of Eden: Travels in the Desert Southwest. Boston, MA: D.R. Godine, 1986.

Klett, Mark. Yosemite in Time: Ice Ages, Tree Clocks, Ghost Rivers. San Antonio, TX: Trinity University Press, 2005.

Senf, Rebecca, ed. Reconstructing the View: The Grand Canyon Photographs of Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe. Berkeley, CA: Phoenix Art Museum. Published in association with University of California, Berkeley, 2012.

Container Listing:

  • CAE Box 100

    • Folder 5 Field Notes, Photographs, and other Logistics 2000
    • Folder 2 Research Materials and Notes 1976 – 2000
    • Folder 3 Field Notes and Photographs 1998
    • Folder 4 Field Notes and Photographs 1999
    • Folder 6 Combined Field Notes 1998 – 2000
    • Folder 7 Images for Possible Inclusion in Book 1997 – 2000
    • Folder 1 Project Field Team and Correspondence 1994 – 1998