Tag Archives: spiritual photography

“I was on Familiar Terms with the Spirits.”

I have been kind of contrary about Halloween this year*. Normally, as many sane children and grown-children in North America do, I await the month of October with baited breath and full batteries, ready to charge head-first into the swell of the season. More orange. More candy. More spice. More whiskey.

But this year, I will gladly engage with things from the floor of my studio (newly cleaned and cleared.)

Also, since alchemy and the occult are making such a strong aesthetic play these past few years, Halloween can be, indeed, everyday… particularly if you spend all day on the internet. I’m certainly not against it but I am a little surprised to see this trend go by without a nod to a favorite (and hefty!) book in my collection: The Perfect Medium: Photography and the Occult. Published by the Yale Press, it is the catalog of an exhibit of the same name held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2005. I wandered into it while there to write a paper on the concurrent Van Gogh show. This exhibit, though small, was much more interesting and, before I really could stop my head from spinning, I had shelled out nearly $70 on the hard-cover companion.

by William Mumler, 1870-79. 2 photographs of Boston medium Fanny Conant and 1 photograph of a spirit appearing next to a photograph of an absent client.

by Edouard Isidore Buguet, 1875. Clockwise from top left: “Spirit of Paganini”/ “Skull of Altotas and his representative”/ “Mediumnic attraction”/”Fuidic effect”

by Theodore Prinz, 1900. A ghost.

by Jacob von Narkiewicz-Jodko, 1896. “Effluvia from an electrified hand resting on a photographic plate.”

by Ted Serios, 1967 (?). Thoughtography.

by Albert von Schrenck-Notzing, 1912. The Medium Eva C. with apparition.

both photos by Albert von Schrenck-Notzig, 1913. The medium Stanislawa P. emitting and reabsorbing ectoplasm through mouth.

by Anonymous, 1938. Medium Colin Evans levitating in darkness. Taken with infred camera.

by The Society for Research on Rapport and Telekinesis, 1966-67. Levitation of a doll and small table, printed in 1979 from original negatives.


*Edit: 10/30/12 When I wrote this a few days ago, my nature was getting the best of me. As of today, after 36 hours of desperately checking the news, facebook, and instagram, I declare that there will be no Halloween for me this year. Hurricane/Storm/Whatever Sandy took an extreme toll to my hometown and its surrounding areas with very little of the extent of the devastation currently calculated. Entire areas that I love have been washed into the sea and, even though being would not have helped, I feel all the more helpless being far away and unaffected. Never keep your heart in a place made of old signs and industrial staples.

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