Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Americans (Reflection paper)

This readings introduced Robert Frank to me first time. His book “The Americans” became a single subject for study several times because of its influence on American photography. Critics and scholars expressed different opinions. I liked some of them. For instance one (William Scott) said “Frank’s influence went further: his way of seeing changed-expanded-the way most educated Americans saw their country” (p.567). I think he is so critical rather than just being a stranger to Americans. Critical thinking is a main character of the most American people because their society is based on individualism. In contrast, Asian society is based on collectivism. So conformity is a main character of people. Even though, most Americans are critical they do not like being criticized from outside. It is the same with people from other countries. In Mongolia, educated and intelligent people talk many critical things about the country among themselves. But if foreign correspondents write something critical about Mongolians they start to express their opinions against the stories. I think, the same kind of patriotism was evoked among American people after seeing “The Americans”.

Of course, his pessimism was one of factors that influenced his work. Personality of a person always remains a sign in his/her work as far as it concern people from artistic field. Richard Woodward’s article in The New York Times magazine is wholly dedicated to this idea. The author came running to moments from his biography many times in order to explain his works.

I agree that “The Americans” contains sad photos. It might referred to 60-s. But those photos are very much related to his first impressions about America as interpreted some researchers. He came in 1947, but photos from 60-s. It means first impressions are very strong for people and they can follow people for a long time. I remember my first impressions about America when I read these stories. Before coming to Columbia, I attended the English as Second Language course at the Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. We came on Sunday of late June. My imagination about America was many people in the streets like in Tokyo and skyscrapers everywhere. But I did not see any people because during the summer the campus was empty. Our group consisted of 22 people from different countries stayed in two story dormitories. There were no high buildings around us and a strange sound followed us everywhere. Later we found that sound was from air-conditioning system. Only what we could see was cars running on the road. If I were a photographer at that moment, I would shoot only cars and buildings.


March, 2001

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