Uncanny Photography: The Isolation Campus

My showcase explores the unnerving atmosphere of absence, unrealised potential, and subsequent surrealism that the University of Wollongong’s ‘Innovation’, more aptly quipped ‘Isolation’, Campus conveys to its scarce residents and visitors. Discussing with my tutor Nathan beforehand, I determined that I’d need to use some photographic techniques such as manipulated exposure on the camera to achieve the darkened hallway and washed-out blue tarp shots to satisfy the artificial lighting component, and exacerbate the theme of surrealism and blur any familiarity. Researching similar projects that explored my themes in contemporary locations proved difficult, mostly yielding abandoned buildings, until I remembered photos capturing Banksy’s work and wondered what it’d look like without his art in them, evident with the bike-rack/wall shot. Other times, I experimented with irregular shooting angles to convey scenes like the inexplicable crane inside with empty foyer, and the obscured, unsettling angle of the, innocently macabre, headless baker. The photos required very little in the way of digitally developing and altering, mostly minor colour grading and cropping to achieve the look I wanted for each photograph. My goal was to present a group of subtle photos that culminated in a bizarre sense of loss, squandered opportunity and oddity that I believe I ultimately succeeded in.

Above is my project statement for my recent MEDA101 assignment, which required me to scour the earth for opportunities to photograph the elusive concept of ‘the uncanny’. Instead, with realistic goals in mind, I took it upon myself instead on a Sunday afternoon and Monday morning, from about 10:30am, to merely scour the Innovation Campus that many of us know so little about, and compile a series of photos below that would finally show to my friends what a truly strange place it is to usually wander through on a Thursday afternoon. Unbelievably, even on a Monday morning the campus wasn’t exactly buzzing with activity.

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