Common Futures

Our relationship with the future is a fragile one. Its intangibility prohibits us from any definite comprehension and instead is contingent on our own hopes, fears and belief systems. What this leaves space for however is a sense of wonder; our inclination to consider what might be and how this might be achieved. Often these ideas centre around the short to medium term directions our societies seem likely to take, be that dystopian or utopian. Themes of exploring the universe, technological advancement and a future for man in which life is better are regularly turned in on themselves to instead become cautionary tales. This imagining has resultantly lead to the development of (or reassigning of) recurrent ideas about what the future will be like.

What therefore does that future look like? Common Futures is a series of images that aim to explore the visual language of the future, looking at why we deem some designs and symbols to be enduringly futuristic often regardless of age or application. In investigating how our conceptualisation of the future both informs and is informed by culture, Missen explores the aesthetic likenesses between objects and imagery that may categorically seem unrelated, but share common traits. Practically this has entailed photographing and sourcing imagery from institutions that have an innate relationship with cutting-edge technology and design attributes that are frequently described as‘futuristic’. This thus far includes: European Space Agency facilities at German Aerospace, Die Neue Sammlung Design Museum at the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich and archive imagery from NASA in the 1950 and 60s. The series also includes images that employ the same visual language but are extracted or constructed from the everyday and appear alongside those from technological and design institutions. By creating a situation in which it is impossible to know what is truly modern, what has historically been considered modern and what is fabricated we are invited to consider how these images seem related and what the forces within our culture are that drive these perceived commonalities.

This work is in ongoing.