The Urbis in Manchester currently has an exhibition of Andrew Brooks photography entitled Reality Hack: Hidden Manchester. The free exhibit includes fifteen stunning images taken in, around and under Manchester, many in the company of Urban Explorers. Having penned The Underplex and living in the Manchester area, I could hardly turn down the opportunity to go and have a look.
While you can see some of these pictures online, you can’t really appreciate the vivid imagery. The beautiful, sharp and dramatic images of hidden Manchester landmarks really engage the senses and if not for my own fears for personal safety actually make me want to go try some UrbEx activities myself. Seeing the flooded canals that once served as bomb shelters and tunnels that have supported, or still support, the industry of Manchester filled me with a sense of mischievious adventure and excitement.
Andrew uses some interesting techniques of image manipulation and opaque multi-picture overlays to create a stunning sense of forced perspective and depth – again, far easier to appreciate and study in person.
There are images from the Underplex here – ancient service tunnels, long abandoned conveniences, and fast-flowing detritus-filled waterways. Doorways, stairs and arched portals punctuate walls at different levels, some half buried or never intended for human access. Filthy sheets of glass might occasionally provide a murky sheen of daylight, but never much more than that. Even tunnels and service routes closer to civilisation provide a view of a world bereft of day-to-day human activity, routes frequented only by occasional service vehicles, maintenance crews and trespassers. This one even looks like an Alpha Complex service tunnel, with pipework coloured by Security Clearance.
You can see some samples of the pictures from the exhibit on Andrew Brooks’s web site – or visit the free exhibit yourself until May 2009.