Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The description of this picture reads, “A young man pauses for a brief rest and a map-check at the roadside of the "Mother Road". Enjoying the freedom of the open road in a big car under a big sky, epitomising an essential aspect of the American dream.” For me this image brings up a very attractive and romantic view of America. It is the idea of it as a place of adventure and physical freedom. It is a country with so many different landscapes, cultures and people, to the point where crossing a state line could be compared to crossing into a whole new country. It has of course always been a place associated with adventure ever since it was discovered and colonised by men who were adventurers themselves. There is almost a genetic tendency for Americans to have this sense of adventure, being that they are descended from those men and women who travelled to that new and exciting land seeking better lives. This can be seen in their desire to conquer the unknown, most obviously with being the first nation to walk on the moon. Other examples include Joshua Slocum, a Canadian-American, the first man to sail single-handedly around the world. Charles Lindbergh, the first man to fly solo, non-stop across the Atlantic. And Robert Peary, who was credited with being the first man to walk to the north-pole, although Peary’s claim is now widely doubted, his efforts are still testament to American’s need to discover.
America itself provides the perfect setting for adventure and exploration, with so many un-populated and untouched areas. It is really a place where someone could truly lose themselves in the landscape, and for this reason I think it can be seen as a country of freedom, not necessarily social or political, but physical.

My second image brings a counter argument to my first. This image suggests the idea that Americans have evolved to lose their ancestors sense of adventure. That the majority of the American public have grown to live in a bubble of technology, consumerism and celebrity culture. The desire to explore could be lost with today’s average American. The state department lists that only 22% of the population own a passport. And the invention of so many time and energy saving pieces of technology these days make the need to discover things for yourself less and less. Statistics show that the average American had travelled 8200 miles by car in 2001, compared to 4200 in 1977. In this photo we can see somebody who is taking a dog for a walk, presumably out of necessity for its well being, however they are clearly not attributing the same necessity to themselves.

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