Relics Future & Past

Giulia Parlato and Alexander Missen explore semi-fictitious worlds seen only through the carefully and meticulously orchestrated environments created by those responsible for cataloguing the past and projections of the future. Romanticising the ornamental and perceived authenticity of the past alongside the minimalist utilitarian visions of the future allows us to consider not just how humans caricature the unknown to suit current ideologies, but also gives us an insight into the history of our perceived inadequacies and real fears. 

Through adopting the visual language of evidential photography used in the fields of crime, science and archaeology, Parlato draws us down a path of discovery. Anonymous hands appear often, measuring, steadying, fixing and presenting, highlighting the personal, analogue nature of archaeological discovery whilst also lifting the subject matter to the status of the rare and irreproducible. But what we see in the images are reproductions, both in their status as photographs but also in Parlato’s careful construction and curation of objects depicted. By using this dual approach of stark, evidential visual description and carefully orchestrated and manipulated ‘scenes’, Diachronicles invites us to question the composition of popular historiographies and forefronts the role of the author.

In Missen’s Common Futures, both the author and protagonist are invisible. Often floating in space or positioned in largely featureless surroundings, the objects depicted describe a future where humans are incidental to increasingly powerful and elegant technologies. Comprised of found negatives and original photographs, the viewer is presented with an aesthetic somewhat associated with the hidden and aspirational world of technological progress but that is nevertheless familiar – a common sense of futuristic aesthetic learnt through exposure to Science Fiction and childhood visits to museums of science and technology. In the rare instance we see humans they are functional or incidental; a man bending over a microscope in a standard-issue lab coat or mere ants in the landscape, presumably tourists in an other-worldly scene but depicted in a way which suggests they are insignificant to the bigger picture. Either way, humans are shown to be static and ancillary in a rapidly changing world.

Alexander Missen

bio: Giulia Parlato

Giulia Parlato (b.1993) is an Italian visual artist based in London and Palermo.

She graduated from the BA(Hons) Photography at London College of Communication in 2016 and from the MA Photography at the Royal College of Arts in 2019.

Her practice delves into histories, myths and cultural heritage, involving photography and video. She analyses the historical use of photography as a document of truth, specifically in its scientific and forensic uses, and challenges this language, by creating a new space in which staged scenes take place. The melancholic and frustrating state, caused by humans’ impossibility to understand the past constitutes the foundation of her work.

Giulia's work is in public and private collections.

Artist website.

bio: Alexander Missen

Alexander Missen’s work seeks to examine the nature of the relationship between ideas and their aesthetics. In Q&A he explores the nature of myth when applied to a collective understanding of the United States, investigating the relationship between a place and its own mythos, his work evokes a cinematic representation of idealised American culture – bigger, better, but ultimately, a mythical, indistinct story.

Missen has since gone on to work on a project entitled ‘Common Futures’ in which he attempts to continue his investigation into the visual commonalities of human culture. By photographing and sourcing imagery from the European Space Agency, Die Neue Sammlung Design Museum and archive imagery from NASA in the 1950/60s he draws parallels between objects and places seemingly unconnected to consider how we visualise the abstract notion of ‘The Future’.

Missen's work has been exhibited in the UK, EU and US in solo, group exhibitions and photo festivals.

Artist website.