Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile. - Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

Saturday, August 8, 2015

A Book for Calamity - The Western Town

Originally I was going to show off some of the matte board models I intended to build today. Instead I was distracted by a book, specifically "The Western Town, A Theory of Aggregration" by Lehnerer, Macken, Kelley and Steiger. Looking at the cover there doesn't appear to be much going on.

Quite frankly I bought it for two reasons, it is focused on 22 movie towns of the old west and it has some very cool illustrations of the buildings that make up those towns. I have struggled through reading some of the text, quite frankly its going over my head. Apparently there is nothing quite as foreign to my brain as architectural theory. I'm sure I'll get it but I wish it had been written in English, but then I'm definitely not the target audience for this book despite the wonderful description on the back:

"The western town of roughly 1860-90 exits in an ephemeral moment in American history. Alwyas being realized but never really there, these towns vanished entirely from the prairie by the end of the nineteenth century. Yet even today everyone has visited these towns, since they survive in their abstract and distilled form through the plot-generating sets of Western movies. Somehow this (re)constructed reality is able to support these plots inherently, completely, and inexhaustibly. From the Great Plains west of the Mississippi to the foothills of the Sierra Madre, the towns of Agry Town, Rio Bravo, Sweetwater and many more are home to an unflinchingly regular set of formal arrangements, typologies and social interactions - in other words, a cliched but consistent host of characteristics and characters. The Western Town's integral pieces suggest that behind its simplicity lies a rich source for architecural and urban study."

Here is an example of some of the text from the book (this part I understand), just so you know what you might be getting into.

"The Superstreet's Individual Buildings"

"LaHood's general store is one of the first structures making up the town's street. A Two-story-high front door sits at the top of a few steps attached to a wood plank deck where supplies not susceptible to the elements sit on display as riders enter the town. The second-story windows imply a more complex program than the otherwise typical building program. As the eye moves to the edge of the front facade it becomes clear that the building is not merely one mass but a collection of smaller out buildings. The general store is an eccentric collection of structures not contained or encapsulated within the clapboard siding of one dominant structure. The store is a collection of both smaller buildings and a main dominant building structre at its center, and its property boundary is not altogether clear."

(page 66)

This is the kind of revelation that I'm looking for in regards to Calamity. Calamity is very much a movie set, yet more substantial than a movie set. One of the key pieces of the book is taking these western movie sets and fleshing them out into a full fledged town and not just a collection of backdrops.

The book is full of illustrations both of movie stills and architectural designs. Here are a few of the illustrations that convinced me to add this book to my reference collection.

Fort Grant from the movie Hang 'Em High

One page for the town of Rio Bravo

What these illustrations lack is what the second story looks like. Two sets of stairs are seen here but there is no information on where the stairs go.

A saloon in Rio Bravo, note the small stable out back and the outhouses

No comments:

Post a Comment