The Western film genre represents the historical memory of America, fragmented through mythological constructions and ethnic cleansings. I intend to examine the mythology of the American Western landscape as it permeates modern society today – capturing underlying ideologies as manifested in visual iconography. To dissect these ideologies, I intend to first return to the source of the image, the Western landscape, and photograph it’s permutation and decay, documenting the remains. Then, through the medium of pinhole photography, I will produce photographic recreations using miniature sets and cutouts, hoping to evoke the same iconographic themes. Together, these two representations of ‘historical truth’ embody the underlying question of veracity for the American West, in the consciousness of Americans and as depicted in film history.
The significance of a “constructed set” for a western is dually layered: it is literally constructed as a fake façade, and is symbolically a construction of Western iconography, collapsing both the fictional and the realistic. What remains today is of note, in that it represents what remains in the greater American memory — the remains of the nation’s history, both lived and imaginary.
This project was funded with a generous grant by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program at the University of Colorado. Special thanks to Dr. Melinda Barlow for her assistance and encouragement with this project.