Friday, 8 April 2016

HIGHLY ORGANIZED SITES OF MASS CONSUMPTION

almost five years ago, this blog mentioned a mooted photography project planned by two guys named Sean Litchfield and Zachary Violette. the project was to involve making fine-art photographs in "the Bush-era suburbs around the Bible-belt city of Greenville, South Carolina." it turns out that it was never successfully funded. but I sometimes think about it. especially when I am down here in south Florida visiting relatives and getting some sun. prior to reading the project blurb, I was struggling to articulate my impressions of (and feelings about) the American suburbia I'd started seeing up close when these Florida visits became a part of my life from 2003 onwards. previously, the America of my experience consisted of the places I had seen on a rather dimly recalled greyhound bus exploration of the country, undertaken and enjoyed (mostly) when I was a much younger man. well, not just cities. I also saw a lot of open road, glimpsed a lot of small towns and took in some staggering scenery out west. but since the first trip to Boynton Beach in 2003 (we now come to a spot a bit further north), I have come to think of deep, wide, smooth-textured suburbia as my "real" America. as the norm. as the backdrop to the archetypal American lives presented on TV commercials and whatnot. marketed. medicated. veneered. straightened. all these boxes of varying sizes - the houses, the drive-thru whatevers, the strip mall stores, the chain restaurants etc. - all arranged along wide, bright, tree-lined and shrub-fringed grids: they seem, to me, to add up to what Litchfield and Violette described as "highly-organized sites of mass consumption" which have "removed Americans even further from the pastoral landscape the whole suburban experiment was about in the first place."





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