Roadside Emporium:
Eccentric Mirages and Deserted Oddities


Simply put, Roadside Emporium: Eccentric Mirages and Deserted Oddities engages with, and proposes ‘eccentricities’, within and around, a roadside general store, situated in the abandoned town of Santa Claus, Arizona.

The desert has received highly varied collective attention over decades, from the establishment of Grand Canyon National Park in 1919, to hysteria over the ‘alien encounters’ at Roswell in 1947, to the start of Burning Man at Black Rock City in 1990, to, recently, the increasing rates of ‘desertification’ as a product of climate change. More specifically, and perhaps stereotypically, the desert is a notorious host of eccentricities and strange occurrences - a discombobulating jumble ranging from mirage physics, to Paolo Soleri’s Arcosanti, to the ‘World’s Largest Belt Buckle’.

Roadside Emporium: Eccentric Mirages and Deserted Oddities proposes a roadside general store that acts as an attractor for such ‘eccentricities’ - a locale that hosts, displays, sells, and accumulates oddities. Sited in a barren stretch of land just off of U.S. Route 93 between Phoenix, Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada, the location was once the ‘bustling tourist town’ of Santa Claus, Arizona. Within its relational extent, the site acts as a gathering device for ‘in-betweens’, of all manner, that are dispossessed and rejected by larger society. Here, reconstituted through peculiarities of the site itself, as well as those evoked by deserts of the American Southwest.

In addition to the general store, a designed catalog will detail the contents and secrets of the site, modeled in its intent after Luis Borges’ Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge, and motivated by a range of representational techniques. An alternate taxonomy, that operates within an eccentric locale, will populate the desert condition with an array of designed devices, curiosity cabinets, animal crossbreeds, and phenomenological occurrences, reinforcing the innate connection between the desert, and its strange tendencies.
Faculty Advisor:
Perry Kulper