Cornhub is a rather curious region, one which apparently changes perhaps more regularly than other public regions (designer Mya Milena notes of the region, “we change themes like socks”!). At the time of writing this piece, it offers a look into one aspect of modern-day mythology: that of flying saucers and alien visitations.
We were dawn to the region after seeing Ricco Saenz’s pictures of Cornhub on Twitter (and you can read about his explorations here). But if I’m honest, they didn’t entirely prepare us for what we found: this iteration of Cornhub is quirky, unexpected, different and, well, strange, with the flying saucers just a part of the story. However, it is the one I’ll start with, as it is perhaps the most obvious.
Sitting in the midst of this desert landscape is a crater out of which rises the crashed hull of a flying saucer, bodies of “greys” lying on the cracked ground where they were either thrown during impact or staggered to on escaping before collapsing. A second flying saucer is circling above, wobbling in its flight in the way such vehicles tend to do in those old 50s sci-fi B-movies.
A sign by the roadside that passes the crash site points the way to the “UFO Crash Site Roswell, New Mexico”. So, whether this crash is intended to represent that so-called incident is debatable. Certainly, other signs in the area suggest this is might actually be the legendary (in alien conspiracy theory circles) “Area 51” (officially, the Homey Airport or Groom Lake in the middle of the Nevada Test and Training Range) – which is roughly 900 miles from Roswell.
For those perhaps unfamiliar with the Roswell incident of mid-1947, it was triggered when a special high-altitude balloon being used by the (then) US Army Air Force in a top-secret endeavour came down some 75 miles from the town of Roswell. That secret endeavour was Project Mogul, an attempt to detect the sound waves generated by Soviet atomic bomb tests using special equipment suspended from high-altitude balloons.
Due to the sensitive nature of Project Mogul, various official statements were made about the nature of the crash were contradictory or simply didn’t match the facts (one USAAF report referred to the crash being a “weather balloon”, although the Project Mogul balloons were very different beasts). The event occurred just two weeks after aviator Kenneth Arnold made his famous report of seeing nine “saucer-like” flying objects near Mount Rainier, Washington State, so when a report was issued that a “disc” (albeit one apparently small enough to be held in the hands) had been recovered at the crash site, the press briefly went wild with speculation – something which, 30 years after the fact, resulted in Roswell becoming infamous as an alleged “UFO crash site”.
Whether you chose to see the Cornhub flying saucer crash as being a play on the so-called Roswell UFO incident is up to you. For my part, I found myself leaning more towards the road sign with its arrow being more a passing reference to Roswell, and the setting within the region far more of a play on the whole mystique of “Area 51” and its place in both “UFO / Alien visitation” mythology and some science fiction films.
There are certainly enough clues for the latter being the case: the Area 51 signs, the military vehicles parked close by, and the spacesuited figures of humans also scattered about the crash site. The latter in particular take on more of a sci-fi meme: the suits carry the NASA logo and look to be modelled on modern US EVA spacesuits. However, they also appear to have been ineffective in projecting those wearing them from something undoubtedly nasty in the immediate vicinity of the crash.
North of the crash site is what might be the edge of a town, one which might be taken as Roswell if one goes in that direction, or perhaps some little hamlet on the edge of the Nevada Test and Training Range. It offers a curious mix of buildings: there’s a very 50’s style diner and drive-in diner sitting alongside an 80s video game arcade, while SL table-top games can be found in the parking lot. Meanwhile, just across the road, there’s a concrete tower block that might at first appear to be a military-style structure (and thus suggestive again of “Area 51”), but which is in fact an apartment building, a trailer park (travelling UFOlogists?) located in the car park at its base.
Elsewhere, back towards the middle of the region, sitting between the flying saucer crash site and the region’s landing point, the top of the Statue of Liberty’s head rises from the dried sands, almost in a nod to the Planet of the Apes franchise and adding a further twist to the setting. Meanwhile, and off to the south where it stands alone, is the warehouse-like bulk of a television recording studio, apparently the home of “Cornhub’s Blind Date”.
Eclectic, unusual, overlooked by a Hollywood-echoing hillside sign spelling out the region’s name, and with a pot-pourri of ideas, Cornhub in this current iteration makes for an undoubtedly a strange – but also curiously photogenic. But remember, it might not be around too long, so should you want to visit, it might be best to do so sooner rather than later!
- Cornhub (North Korea, rated Moderate)