“The Red Badge of Courage” in Relation to Studio V

Thanksgiving break is upon us and most of the studio has settled back at their homes for the week, or are off campus somewhere else. I let loose a sigh of relief knowing that the next few days will be filled with family, food, and football (the American Thanksgiving Trifecta) and not with welding, grinding, and painting (the trailer building trifecta). Yes, it is nice to be home.

As I sit in my father’s study, surrounded by books I can’t help but let my mind wander to the plots and ideas expressed in them. Granted most of these literary masterpieces never kept my attention or were over my head growing up, one American classic still resonates in my mind: “The Red Badge of Courage” by Stephen Crane.  The plot of this novel follows a young man named Henry Fleming who enlists in the Union army because of his eagerness to obtain glory and power.  If you haven’t read the novel I would highly suggest doing so (after all it’s a classic), but if you are like I was when I was in high school here are the cliff notes: http://www.cliffsnotes.com/study_guide/literature/The-Red-Badge-of-Courage-Book-Summary.id-151,pageNum-1.html.

Basically in a quick summation, the main thesis of the book is about a boy’s transition from being a fantasist and pursuer of glory, authority, and success to a fearful and self-doubting solider that gains confidence and strength to accomplish his dreams through action and accomplishment. Crane’s story is about realization and growing up at its core, but I believe that it can be extruded to focus on the transition between design and construction.  Design works on the same lines as dreaming, sometimes realization doesn’t even occur, or step into the same area code. Somewhere throughout our education we have all been taught to design boldly and to pursue limits, however as students we often take that ten steps too far and think we are Frank Gehry or Peter Eisenman.  The hallways of Lee Hall, or any college studio for that matter, are littered with designs that cannot be built because of numerous laws of physics or the fact that our clients do have a budget. Design+Build Studios address this issue head on. The construction and fabrication of the project was our “battlefield.” We made (and are still making) realizations that our paper designs sometimes need to be adapted to real world specifications. However, amidst the unbelief’s of some people around the project, short time frame, and large scale of fabrication, we were able to meet our first deadline and use our screen to its full potential. Just like Fleming we have gained confidence and strength as a studio by overcoming the realization of the scale of our design and fighting the battle amongst ourselves to produce it. Throughout this project our changes between paper and fabrication are all too evident, but that doesn’t take away from the design at all. If anything those changes add to it, they are displayed and highlighted… (Here comes the Cheesy wrap up line) …almost as if they too are a “Red Badge of Courage.”

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