The Fountain of Youth
In 1521, Juan Ponce de León died in Havana, Cuba from a poison-tipped arrow lodged in his thigh following a skirmish by the Calusa, a once Florida-native indigenous tribe. Historians argue about the details of his travels, including a postcolonial myth connecting de León to the fabled search for the Fountain of Youth as he traveled through La Florida, a tale of astonishment and obsession striped with madness. An artificial wonder rolled out from under the centuries in the form of the Florida Fountain of Youth Archeological Park, resurrecting a colonial specter and concretizing truth in what amounts to a centuries old lie. Peering at LED screens and shuffling through websites devoted to various arguments about this myth posthumously spread after de León’s death led me to question the teleportation and transmission of similar myths, belief systems and concepts relating to mortality through contemporary technology. How does a search engine discover immortality or death? What truths do we choose to believe when our reliance on online content blooms open like so many flowers ready for picking? What happens when we engorge ourselves on the ideas of others?