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Photos Explore Visual Symbolism of American Culture

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Alexander Missen (MA 2015) is a British photographer and MA candidate at Middlesex University in London. He describes his photographic work as seeking to examine the relationship between aesthetics and our understanding of it. His series Q&A explores the visual symbolism of American culture and how repeated representation of these tropes transforms them into an ongoing and unspecific reality.

Missen’s somber, cinematic photographs invoke immediate associations with an idealized vision of American culture, suggesting endless narrative possibilities along vast expanses of cross-country highways – yet the story remains indistinct, uprooted in space and time. He writes that his aim “is to ask questions about the nature of myth by presenting the symbols and tropes of American culture: mountain ranges, flags, cars. This aims to promote a feeling of uncanny familiarity for the viewer, often for a place they have never been.”

Indeed, Q&A leaves us with the feeling that we have seen this before, somewhere. Missen ends his artist statement with a quote from Vilem Flusser’s book Towards a Philosophy of Photography: “All events are nowadays aimed at the television screen, the cinema screen, the photograph, in order to be translated into a state of things. In this way, however, every action simultaneously loses its historical character and turns into a magic ritual and an endlessly repeatable movement.”

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All images © Alexander Missen

via Aint-Bad Magazine

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