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© Janeanne Gilchrest
© Janeanne Gilchrest

Scottish Photographer Finds What Appear to Be Aliens Under the Sea

Picture of India Irving
Social Content Producer
Updated: 28 November 2017

Things are not always what they seem, and this is definitely the case when it comes to these trippy underwater photos!

Freediver and photographer Janeanne Gilchrist can hold her breath up to 45 feet beneath the surface of the waves, and what she sees down there is truly mind-blowing.


© Janeanne Gilchrest

In a recent photo series, the Scottish artist and image maker has captured what look like actual aliens, but upon closer look are something much more dismal – rubbish and debris. From a plastic bag to fishermen’s ropes, the images are both beautiful and haunting.

6_ Multicellular

© Janeanne Gilchrest

Janeanne actually describes her work as akin to a Rorshach test, a psychological examination where subjects analyse ink blots describing what they see. In a similar way, she believes the photographs come across differently to viewers depending on their mindset at the time of viewing them.

25_Sessility (motility) Sea troll 2

© Janeanne Gilchrest

Truly one-of-a-kind, she describes her process as trying to ‘capture something that’s never going to be in the same location, same light, same position, ever again.’

Photographing while freediving, taking one breath only and holding it underwater, is no easy feat. She explains, ‘I have to get to the place, to compose the shot, to manoeuvre myself around it, to get what I need and come back up, all the time focusing on how much air I have got in my body.’

1_Semantic memory

© Janeanne Gilchrest

The fact that Jeannane photographs pollution-based components that have made their way into the natural habitat adds a layer of complexity to her images, begging the question of why the waste is in the water and what we can do to change this in the future.

The irony of the rubbish looking so beautiful is of course not lost on the Edinburgh-based artist. ‘People have become quite numb to photos of piles of waste. These images are created to last longer and I want people to have these discussions.’


© Janeanne Gilchrest

An exhibition of the images entitled Above Below, Beyond is on view at the Fergusson Gallery in Perth until 24 March 2018.