Picture all of those derelict, disused and forgotten places in and around our cities and towns. For some, these places represent excitement, adventure and exploration. Jacinta’s one of these people - she’s an urban explorer.
Outside work (Jacinta is a second-year apprentice automotive painter) she and her friends travel all over Melbourne and Victoria looking for places other people have left behind. Many people look at urban exploring as dangerous, stupid and pointless, but it’s a lot more than that says Jacinta. At first it was a little bit frightening, but now it feels comfortable - almost too comfortable! When asked if she had ever been discovered exploring these spaces, she said, almost, there's been a couple of close calls. You do have to be a little bit careful as you sometimes bump into squatters etc., but they are usually really nice people.
Urbexer’s have an insatiable drive to explore and visually record places that no one inhabits anymore, places that have been left to quietly decay. Jacinta first picked up a camera at around 14 years of age and her urban exploring has taken her as far as Morwell, Geelong and Colac. I'd love to do some urban exploring in Japan, she said. America is also on my list of places to explore, but the gun laws put me off a bit.
Jacinta photographs these places on her Olympus M10 Mark II Mirrorless camera and often on her phone. Whilst I love photographing these places, the experience itself is as important to me as the photographic record I make. When I do take photos, I don’t do much editing, preferring to leave the images as natural as possible. The site, the space itself, is often the hero of the image - not camera techniques. The existing lighting in these derelict places is really interesting, with strangely beautiful shadows and contrast. Damaged walls, dirty, smashed and boarded up windows create amazing lighting effects. Hoodie Mag would love to support Jacinta (and her friends) in staging a photography exhibition or a projection and sound event one day - in a derelict space!
In 2017 Jacinta and her friends explored around 65 locations, including suburban buildings like warehouses, factories, old schools and homes, disused hotels, hospitals and automotive business. We go into the city a bit. There are more abandoned or disused CBD spaces than you think, says Jacinta. Often, we will revisit a building and enjoy seeing the changes, the increased decay and destruction that has gone on over time. The history of some of these places really impacts you when you are in the space.
There is a strong online community of urban explorers and Jacinta speaks to people online from all over the world. I love that I've had the opportunity to meet and speak to some amazing people from this community and established some great friends, like @frost_urbex (urbex-melbourne on fb). I really look up to some of the older, more experienced explorers like @msoupy and @mariachi.abandoned.melbourne, who I have been following since I started. I also love the work of @r_o_n_e. I met Rone recently at his Omega Project at Yarra Bend, north of Melbourne. The Omega Project saw Rone paint the interior of a derelict suburban home which was photographed and filmed before being torn down. He drew from memories of his own childhood growing up in similar mid-century Australian homes. These homes are being pulled down to make way for a new, more contemporary suburb. Thousands of people visited the Open House in July 2017.
When asked if she thinks she will stop urban exploring any time soon, Jacinta said, NO! I will probably do it forever! Just like people with the urge to seek out galleries, I and my friends have the urge to seek out derelict spaces. When you think about it, it’s not that different. These spaces arguably share similar exhibition, lighting and ‘spectacle’ qualities.
After talking with Jacinta and her friends, we at Hoodie Mag can understand the drive and desire to be an urban explorer! In fact, we were so inspired we arranged to go out on an exploration with Jacinta (and her friend @frost_urbex) and took some of the photos you see here.
As a young artist … I feel that I have a lifetime ahead of me. People might see being 18 as a disadvantage, but for me, being this young means I have many years ahead of me to continue doing what I love and progress to where I want to be. We all start somewhere, and I’ve had a darn good run of it so far! Of course, I wish I’d got into exploring even sooner and not missed out on some of the beautiful buildings that no longer exist like Hotel California in Hawthorn and Larundel Mental Asylum in Bundoora. But hey, with the years I have remaining, I’m sure I’ll find some equally amazing places.
Photos: Jacinta and Tiffaney Bishop