||The Land of a Million Cereals
30" x 20"
The Land of a Million Cereals is an exhibition that examines the ideology of free choice in American consumer culture. Termed the “land of a million cereals” by mystified foreigners, breakfast cereal is uniquely American. A typical aisle features rows of eight-and-a-half-by-eleven-inch boxes, stacked like hyper-color TVs, blasting out colorful images, cartoons, and slogans to mesmerized consumers. Inside, they contain an astounding array of shapes, sizes, flavors, smells, and colors—incredibly, all permutations of just four basic grains. The average american supermarket now contains 275 varieties of breakfast cereals (oatmeal included). In terms of dollars, cereals are the third-most popular product sold at supermarkets behind carbonated beverages and milk.
Fueling this explosion in consumer choice are advertisers who have adopted "choice" as a central theme in advertising strategy simply because it coincides with “choice” as a central symbolic theme in American culture. In exercising a consumer choice, advertising suggests that Americans are asserting their commitment to individualism; their individuality or uniqueness is demonstrated through their product choice.
In a society instilled with the belief in freedom of choice, the idea that more could mean less is difficult to swallow. Cereal, in many ways, is a microcosm exemplifying our reality. Having limitless options down the aisle creates an illusion of choice that only serves to blind us from what truly makes us happy and human; namely friends, family, and love. Ironically, these are not even choices. When they become choices (e.g., Internet dating) we then risk the tendency to view people as products and understand ourselves this way too—cerealizing ourselves.