American photographer Cameron Wittig shows all and sundry that the art of photography is also, still one of the greatest illusion agents. Wittig does this through his series called Duluth Typologies. The Minneapolis-based photographer went to a little town in Minnesota, called Duluth to photograph typical Midwestern homes situated on steep hills.
The tweak Wittig did was instead of selecting a normal frame; he tilted his camera squarely towards the pavement. This created some visual illusions, playing tricks with our perceptions. The results are houses that look like they are about to slide down a slope or sink.
Wittig elaborated recently on his Duluth Typologies project, saying,
“My personal work plays with perception and how photography is often presumed to be 100% honest when in reality it can be easily manipulated to lie. If you use it correctly, it is just as good as telling untruths as it is truths”
The series’ title, Duluth Typologies is inspired and referenced to Bernd and Hilla Becher’s typologies of industrial German architecture. This collection that documents homes built on steep hills in Duluth, Minnesota, is a truly confounding illusion. The characteristic Midwestern houses appear to be either sinking on their side into their own foundations or are about to slip sideways.
If you find this series amusing, why don’t you find a bunch of houses also built on a steep slope, align your camera with the angled ground and see if you come up with similar images. Chances are you will too! It is one of the simplest ways to create a visual illusion with your camera. As Cameron himself notes, just a slight deviation of the hand can create some pretty amazing visual tricks.
So the next time you see images of ‘leaning’ homes or structures, look more closely. It might be a case of Duluth Typologies.