Cowboys Invaded – Update (23/6/18)


I’ve not actually done as much making as I have done in previous weeks. Having reached the end of the making process for this test piece. I might be adding more detail later on however.

Focusing on the base, constructing a cave at the bottom of the shaft where cowboys and possibly Native Americans might go into hiding. I’m starting to think about how possible events may play out in the event that the aliens had succeeded in taking over America. I began the day by drawing out and then shaping out cave ends that were soon fixed to the structure, adding even more stability to this piece. After a break for lunch I began to cover up the base that created the cave.

It built up quite quickly allowing me time to pause and begin to think about the concept more, leading to some research to begin. Part of that led to me finding a painting that really celebrates the term and idea – Manifest Destiny. American Progress by John Gast (1872). Today its not so much prophetic as disturbing, you have a woman in the middle of the piece – Progress making her way West moving the savage Native Americans, Buffalo out of the way as progress in the form of trains and stagecoaches follow in her way. Farmers waiting to move out and settle on newly claimed land. Ironically it’s a woman bringing civilisation West and not a man, maybe it’s the aesthetic of a woman treading over the land being more pleasing on the eye than a farmer or prospector, traditionally a male role men leading the way and women following quietly behind, keeping the new homes ready for their return from a days work in the wilderness. A woman here suggest also the virgin land yet to be touched by the American dream, ready to be tamed to be worked by the American Anglo-Saxon’s that believed it was their god-given destiny to reshape the land. This is where the research took over for me. It was an editors article – John O’Sullivan article that first mentions the term Manifest Destiny that’s adopted by some, but not all politicians. Also the term was only really used between 1812 and 1860, just before the Civil War broke out. It was the fear that the spread of slavery across America which was becoming difficult to accept. So it’s more about the spreading of American ideals initially, spreading and sharing the right ones as the expansion process was rolling out. The image of the woman could be easily replaced with a spaceship or a flying saucer firing lasers into the ground as all life escapes to the East. This is definitely an image that will inform my current work.

The Louisiana Purchase (1803) allowed this expansion into territory that was to American knowledge undiscovered, the French declined to share any details about the huge swathes of land they have just sold, probably to help fund/resolve the unrest back home under Napoleon. The extra land was also a worry to politicians not wanting the spread of slavery again.

I also came across part of a speech/reason behind the resolution to the 1812 War between British British Canada, which was over Indian Raids into the Midwest. I learned the original reason behind the acquisition of Native American land.

The United States, while intending never to acquire lands from the Indians otherwise than peaceably, and with their free consent, are fully determined, in that manner, progressively, and in proportion as their growing population may require, to reclaim from the state of nature, and to bring into cultivation every portion of the territory contained within their acknowledged boundaries. In thus providing for the support of millions of civilized beings, they will not violate any dictate of justice or of humanity; for they will not only give to the few thousand savages scattered over that territory an ample equivalent for any right they may surrender, but will always leave them the possession of lands more than they can cultivate, and more than adequate to their subsistence, comfort, and enjoyment, by cultivation. If this be a spirit of aggrandizement, the undersigned are prepared to admit, in that sense, its existence; but they must deny that it affords the slightest proof of an intention not to respect the boundaries between them and European nations, or of a desire to encroach upon the territories of Great Britain. . . . They will not suppose that that Government will avow, as the basis of their policy towards the United States a system of arresting their natural growth within their own territories, for the sake of preserving a perpetual desert for savages

It took a few reads to understand what was really being said beyond the old pleasantries of political speak. So my understanding is…

  • They would rather take land with a little fuss as possible, that would allow farmers to work the land.
  • They don’t want to tell the Native American’s how to lead their lives.
  • They will be exchanged like for like land in terms of quality, not so much scale, as I have ready previously.
  • The new boundaries will be respected – in reality they will become reservations that no white American would want to go near.

As I made more sense of all this research, manifest destiny still exist, just in a different form, the land grabbing has been done. The land has been reshaped pretty much for the use of the American Ango-Saxon’s who along with other European settlers have made their own. The political ideal of democracy is the only thing they can still promote beyond their borders. It’s what has lead to America’s entry into WWI, WWII (that and Pearl Harbour) among other more modern American wars, wanting to bring democracy where it doesn’t exist, or not in the form they want. Now currently isolationism is very much foreign policy of the Trump administration – “America First”. There have been interventions just more subtle, in hopes that democracy – American style will one day take route.

Away from all the research which is starting to inform my thinking I needed to take a break from all of this to just play, see how the cowboy and Indian toys would work if they were all in this cross-section piece. It was really fun to do, I can see where the camera would potentially go and any difficulties that may arise (there are a few) which I would need to amend. Maybe a bigger cave for example, or building separate larger sections for more in-depth work. I’m already thinking it will be an animation.

When I consider the aliens I’m drawn to the H.G. Wells saucers from War of the Worlds, it’s like I’m moving the action back a century before technology would have allowed us to understand the visitors before it worked out in our favor. I could simply suggest their presence through special effects or other methods. That’s one for another day though.

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