These are images from a new project based in the Los Angeles area.
Syndicated is a photographic exploration of the sites that were used in both television shows and movies that depict coming-of-age stories in the 1980s and ‘90s. TV and Hollywood productions form a collective sense of adolescence and nostalgia for many middleclass Americans. Influential shows and movies such as The Wonder Years, Teen Witch, Better Off Dead, Freaks and Geeks, and Back to the Future established the basis of collective teenage memories. In a time when Americans are being asked to glorify an idealized past, Syndicated questions the authenticity of those experiences and their impact on our cultural identity.
My photographs are an extension of the New Topopgraphic movement of the 1970s and ‘80s. Photographs in this genre are characterized by subtle critiques of the social landscape. I use a similar objective approach while capturing places that are both actual sites and fictional pop culture landmarks. Seemingly normal neighborhoods, schoolyards, and parking lots are pilgrimage destinations that contain constructed memories and symbols of adolescence. I photograph in a manner that creates a taxonomy, which allows for an anthropologic evaluation of experiences that both are authentic and contrived. My photographic approach accentuates the banal nature of the public and private environments that are important to so many people whether they’ve been there in person or not.
I also photograph houses, lots, and schools that are situated near the filming sites used in shows and movies that haven’t actually been utilized in any cinematic production. These images suggest an uncanny ambiguity and familiarity with the places despite never being seen by most people. Filming locations are frequently in unidentified towns or are named as fictional places that can only be found on the screen. Some sites are named after actual places, but are commonly shot in another city to save money. As a result, much of California and particularly the Los Angeles sprawl contain the latent possibility of being from a movie or TV show that could take place in any suburban town. This phenomenon creates a heightened sense of disorientation and déjà vu even in the most insignificant of locations.
The journey into adulthood for many people is a time of self-exploration and introspection, but this is mediated by the stories that are shown to us. I document the sentimental places where these narratives are acted out that simultaneously exist and don’t exist. The storylines in these liminal spaces are nevertheless formative in our understanding of adulthood.