Tag Archives: Philippines

Uncanny

I really enjoy photographing strangeness. An exploration which has carried on from my architectural dissertation on “Uncanny Spaces”, where I explored the mental spaces of my childhood. Spaces which were not of delight but of terror.  I mapped these rooms as part of my spatial history (included in this post), trying to capture the emotion I felt while occupying each room.

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Studio work space where I tried to figure out what the hell I was doing.

 

Growing up in the Philippines, there were certain areas in the house that really got to me. I felt as if these spaces were alive. The Philippines is predominantly a Christian majority with a strong belief in spiritual beings, the good and evil kinds.

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10 Commandments mixed with the all seeing eye.

 

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Extended threshold of fear. The main circulation core where doors face a stairway which leads to the ground level. Limited light created dark spots and areas. A large mirror was located on the stair landing which evoked phantoms.

 

 

Stories of creatures and spirits are a big part of the culture and the feeling that I shared my home with phantoms were visceral experiences. I should perhaps elaborate on what I define as a home at that time. I lived inside a catholic school compound where I spent most of my childhood playing and going to school. During day time it was a blast, student’s and teachers were about, filled with activity and life. But as school finished up and the large compound with lots of empty rooms became silent, the atmosphere changed. It was not uncommon to invite the local priest to come and bless the school.

 


 ‘Dark is the hour!’ ‘Aye, and cold.’
‘Lone is my house.’ ‘Ah, but mine? ‘
‘Sight, touch, lips, eyes gleamed in vain.’
‘Long dead these to thine.’

Ghost by Walter de la Mare


 

 

 

I linked this back to Sigmund Freud’s essay “The Uncanny”. One that stems from the definition of  the German word “Heimlich” which translates to homely in English. He goes through its etymology by using two 19th Century dictionary’s and also looks at it’s use in literature. In particular the Grimm’s fairytales and highlights the literary definition of Heimlich ultimately changes to that of “Unheimlich” / unhomely.

 

In essence the home that is secure, safe and familiar can be viewed as something that is private and unknown.

 

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Kitchen Window looked out into a dark corridor. All I could hear were people talking, footsteps etc.

This unknown morphs into the mystic and unseen becoming unheimlich or Unhomely. This blur, liminal point is that which is Uncanny.

Heimlich (a) Familiar                 Unheimlich (a) Unfamiliar

Heimlich (b) Secret                   Unheimlich (b) Revealed

The strangely familiar. Freud’s essay goes onto giving examples of fantastical tales which evoke the feeling of Uncanny, from Automaton’s to doppelgangers just to name a few.

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Portal – The large mirror placed on the stair landing always brought fear that one day I see a reflection of the unknown inhabitants.

Anthony Vidler also explores the Unhomely in his paper “The Architectural Uncanny: Essays in the Modern Unhomely”, specifically focusing on the Architectural unhomely aspects of the uncanny. Vidler uses Edgar Edgar Allan Poe’s “The fall of Usher” as one of the Haunted houses as an example and describes the uncanny arises from the “normality of the setting” and the absence of overt terror” resulting in a “disturbing unfamiliarity of the evidently familiar”. Poe’s description of the blank deteriorating walls and its lifeless eyes for windows makes us identify with our own mortality and the ultimate effect of time to all things.

Textured and green corridor
Textured and green corridor

 

I find photographically I am drawn to these sort of spaces. From gritty alleys, to desolate abandoned places were Urbanex photography arises. Two years ago I came across the term “Thanatourism” which according to good old wiki is “Dark tourism (also black tourism or grief tourism) has been defined as tourism involving travel to sites historically associated with death and tragedy.” Urbanex I think is the photographer’s version of this fascination, as we break into abandoned mental asylums or take photos of models in run down place filled with grafitti.

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My last year’s trip to the Philippines again reminded me of the type of rawness I grew up in and which I identify with whenever I see a dark gritty alley. The textures, colour, decay, and use is like a patina over the buildings.

 

 

Light Leakage
Light Leakage

 

I do find these sort of images in Australia albeit much more difficult. I shoot and post a range of images but these sort are  the most personal to me.  The next images are all shot here in Australia. Thanks for reading. Hope I have not scared you guys off.

 

 

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Incarcerated

 

 

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Bodies

 

 

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The Beautiful People

 

 

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

 

 

Mount Henry Bridge_glove

 

 

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Lucky Super 200 Roll Surprise Find: Philippines Trip

While trying to find my last roll of Agfa Vista 400 to load into my canonet I discovered a roll of Lucky Super 200 I shot from the Philippines. Delighted I got it processed and scanned earlier this week. I know I have said this before but there is something about film that captures reality. The colours, the grain, the imperfections, I believe reflect the world that we reside in.

 

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Digital has become so perfect and shiny that to me they are unreal after seeing analog photos. Interestingly I remember the first time I saw my analog scan I did not like the grain at all. I got so used to looking at digital images I was not accustomed to it. Now It doesn’t seem like I can turn back.

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Roll 17: Lucky Super 200

Canonet QL17 GIII
Lucky Super 200

Philippines 2013

Photos from a walk about of my home town in the Philippines last year.  I was very much drawn to the rawness of the place for photography reasons. But on the flip side felt disappointed and frustrated that no maintenance or cleaning was done by the authorities.

Philippines is supposedly the one of the fastest growing economies in South East Asia this year. How much of that actually goes back to the people who need it the most, would most likely be very minimal.

 

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Still shooting film

Still shooting film

Sad to say but I had fallen of the blog wagon. Did not shoot film for some time after my trip to the philippines
Got annoyed of the expense component and the speed I was able to develop the images.

But now that I am part of the 9-5, 40 hour week of work. I find shooting film gets me out of the work rush, as I stroll during my lunch hour to capture some street photography. I am accumulating a back log of  film which is pretty exciting. It use to frustrate me not seeing my images straight away but I now see it as a way to practice delayed gratification. A welcome change from the dizzying speed of today. Does it make a person better at photography. I have no idea. I’d like to think so but who knows.  This lot of pics is from the last roll of Lucky film from my Philippines trip last year.

I loved shooting the beach while I was in the Philippines. Wish I shot alot more of it
I loved shooting the beach while I was in the Philippines. Wish I shot alot more of it

Space For Rent Kids Gated

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This photo was taken September this year from my trip to the Philippines on calmer times. There I experienced one of the worst floods in the history of the city of Olongapo, but that is nothing compared to the destruction of one of the strongest storm that ever hit the planet in 30 years. Haiyan, hit the island of bohol with 320km/h wind gusts, displacing thousands of residents and killing more than 10 000 people.  It is a full blown humanitarian crises. It hit close to home too as one of the Australian’s killed was a former priest at my parish. He leaves a baby girl, a wife and two kids. That really shook me. I was not that close with him, but I felt a real sense of loss. Life can really just change in an instant. I cannot imagine how his family and friends are feeling.

Lots of aide is thankfully coming through but I hope they are mindful of the corrupt snakes in the Philippine government that would not think twice to pocket $$ from the victims if given the chance.

Roll 14: Lucky Super 200

Large Mother Mary Statue.. Bad toilet facility

Whilst in Tagaytay we visited a large mother mary statue. It was 4-5 storeys high, a pretty awesome sight. Inside there is a small shrine where people can pray and offer donations. Just stay away from the toilet. They ask for 10pesos for maintenance, which I find ironic as it is a blatant lie. The toilet’s condition is horrendous, there is no light, terribly dirty and smells like you know what.

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The development academy of the Philippines is just opposite the large statue.  Just a bit of striding street photography  🙂

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Bee Farm

We also visited a beautiful bee farm. They sold lots of bee products, from shampoos to vinegar. It was quite a bumpy ride to get there but what was most interesting  was that it was  two way, one lane road! Luckily we did not encounter anyone half way otherwise it would have been a funny game of chicken.

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Bee Houses amongst the greenery.

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Bee Homes with chickens 🙂

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Employees sorting out the bee products. They spoke a different dialect which I am not familiar with.