Monday, 18 April 2011

the prefab modernism of the ancient astronauts

(originally uploaded to flickr by Fire Of The Mind)

When Frank Lloyd Wright dreamt up the textile concrete block way of building homes like the Ennis-Brown house in Los Angeles (pictured top) in the 1920s, it's been suggested that he may have been influenced by pre-Inca monuments in South America. Most likely, that means the Puma Punku monument (pictured below) in the central highlands of Bolivia, a megalithic complex thought to be as old as the last Ice Age, but which looks like it's inspired every cinematic sci-fi dystopia of the past 40 years. Puma Punka is made up of mammoth blocks of stone so hard they can only be cut with diamonds, and engineered with such precision that you can match the patterns on the interlocking stones exactly - and cut your fingers on the edges while you're doing that. It's prefab building on a grand scale, but with an otherworldly abstract patterning throughout that demands some op art fashion shoots be set there. The visual parallels with Wright's textile block houses are stunning, and if it wasn't stone age indians who built Puma Punku, then maybe those alien astronauts had a pretty sharp eye for abstract modernism. Or maybe Frank Lloyd Wright just liked their style. Incidentally, the outside of the Ennis-Brown house was used in William Castle's 1959 horror, House On Haunted Hill, and the inside has been used in shows like Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Twin Peaks.

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