Photographing the Excess: Review of Les états inventés d’Amérique

Imagined States of America Imagined States of America

Diffusion Multi-Monde and Les Films de l’Isle present a photographic travelogue Les états inventés d’Amérique (Imagined States of America).

Canadian photographer Pierre Guimond travels across the country of America taking shots of the evidence and effects this country’s vast industrialization had on its capitalist society and consumer culture. The depictions of “technology of paranoia” give the viewer the opportunity to realize that humanity’s dream is truly on the verge of a nightmare.

Imagined States of America

Imagined States of America

This visually striking documentary submerges the audience into a few massive, beautiful and heartbreaking scenes. The long openings sequences are very effective, as it depicts how vast and majestic America is. On the other hand, it also gives an excellent start to Guimond’s depiction of the largely unseen birth and death of society and culture. The landscape seems silent, almost lifeless and dystopic. The scavenging of recycled waste, images portraying rampant capitalism, big corporations and greed represent the way globalization has set up a relationship between technology and humanity. The vast, symmetrical compositions in the documentary show the impact of mass consumerism and production versus the individual. The documentary, at times, inspires feelings of despair – that human potential is turned into the cogs of a machine.

Imagined States of America

Guimond examines the transformation of America through an intelligent reflection of how contemporary technology has become so essential in our civilization. And even though the artist makes his photographs look stunningly beautiful and captivating, the underlying realities are still ugly. Dehumanization and replacing human values with ones of consumerism denigrate the importance of “self” in the end and substitute it by the emerging “mass”. This film seems to rise up against the dehumanizing effects of modernity. This ruinous impact manifests through collapse of traditional societal institution as well as decay of inter-human relationships.

Imagined States of America

Imagined States of America

Indeed this photographic journey is about how the country is being destroyed. On one hand, the film perhaps advocates the necessity to challenge and destroy corporate values in order to return to life’s true essentials. On the other hand, the documentary argues for the necessity for America’s consumerism, and further on until one finds the lost “self”.

Les états inventés d’Amérique opens May 16 at Cinema du Parc. 

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