Absence of Familiarity - Thinking Photography
I wanted to create a world through my photos that evoked a sense of familiarity within the viewer but were engulfed with unsettling undertones. I created scenes and images which at first glance appear mundane and ordinary, however, with the lack of human presence, it pushes a more uncomfortable and darker atmosphere. With the current climate, being locked indoors, separated from the rest of society is something everyone has become familiar with. I used this to my advantage, creating a collection of images that are relatable to all. Deciding to use the pandemic to my advantage I wanted to exploit and call attention to the eye-opening and negative feelings that people have been experiencing, I wanted to document life in quarantine in a relatable, abstract way. I wanted to explore liminal space, making the viewer feel as though something was off about the photos and highlighting that feeling of uncertainty. A domestic setting was an obvious choice as it is somewhere that we all feel comfortable and would, therefore make this uncomfortable feeling more prominent. With the use of lighting, both natural and artificial, I highlighted and emphasised objects and items within the household environment. The composition of the images allowed me to keep the subject matter ambiguous yet recognisable at the same time. The lack of human presence within the photos combined with the dark, shadowy imagery forces a feeling of isolation and abandonment. The lighting allows the viewer's eye to be drawn directly to the areas familiar and recognisable to them. However, much of the subject matter is hidden in the shadows, adding to the eeriness of the setting. There is an aspect of the unknown, and the viewer can't be sure what is lurking in the dark. It is this contrast of familiar and unfamiliar, which makes the images uncomfortable yet impactful. This work is minimalistic as the simple, bare composition of this collection pushes the narrative of isolation and loneliness, which once again emphasises the dark, haunting atmosphere. This was important as it reflects the feeling of many during quarantine – being in a place where you are safe and comfortable and yet feeling alone, scared and wishing for human presence and intimacy. The images are all black and white. This decision not only plays a functional role in drawing the viewers eye directly to the subject matter, but it adds to the dark mood of the collection. Whilst keeping a sense of conformity, the atmosphere isn't being overshadowed by a plethora of colours which would include an element of cheeriness. Instead, the shadows seem darker, and the photos can retain a sense of ambiguity.