For all sorts of reasons the panel found themselves instantly drawn to this book: the collection of American West roadside artworks appeals to the imagination in the same way as the series of Vegas slides by US architect Steven Izenour of architecture firm Venturi, Scott Brown. Also whetting the appetite for further reading and more browsing is the mix of project texts, extracts from lectures and talks and other texts in a variety of typographical solutions. The funny thing is, however, that it is a little difficult to get a grip on the content: is this about the influence of Learning from Las Vegas on modern art and architecture? Is it a neo-Marxist critique of the commercialization of roadside architecture? Or is it about the artist’s view of roadside environment? The book’s agenda is not immediately apparent.
Is this vagueness down to the editors’ opening questions and the composition of the content, or should we look to the designer? In the end, though, the book gets the benefit of the doubt. It has been included in the selection because – despite our many queries and remarks – the reader’s curiosity for more remains intact. At the same time, nothing detracted from our sympathy for the documentary design: this is not a selection ‘in spite of it all’. In this case the combination of subject matter, design and execution is clearly so good that it produces a strong intuitive stimulus to investigate the contents more thoroughly.
One last critical comment for the editors: a spelling mistake in one of the artists’ names on the jacket can be fatal for the further perception of the content – and a good proofreader for the inside of the book would have been useful too.