By John Harvey
Can movie trap what our eyes can’t see? there are lots of examples—both ancient and contemporary—of photos of spirits or “ghosts.” those photographs alternately have been derided as hoaxes or, on the different severe, held up as irrefutable facts of the otherworld. Photography and Spirit examines these mesmerizing photos of phantoms, psychical emanations, and non secular apparitions.
Drawing upon 80 pictures taken among 1860 and at the present time, John Harvey explores spirit images from some of the views of faith, technology, and artwork. many of the photos he considers have been taken through scientists, others by way of novice and advertisement photographers, and nonetheless others through robot surveillance units. the various origins of the spirit images have encouraged a multiplicity of interpretations and engendered, every now and then, excessive degrees of skepticism. Harvey’s research probes the connections among the photographs, human mind's eye, and bigger cultural traditions. Photography and Spirit transforms what are frequently fringe items of kitsch into revelatory artifacts of cultural historical past, drawing from them thought-provoking insights into the old connections among the cloth and religious worlds, representations of grief, and human cultures’ enduring fascination with the supernatural.
photograph photographs of airy spirits render the border among what's genuine and what's wonderful indistinguishable. Photography and Spirit challenges our pre-conceived notions and provides an fascinating new point of view at the nature of images.
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Extra resources for Photography and Spirit (Reaktion Books - Exposures)
The corpse is arranged in a life-like pose, either prostrate in bed – in an attitude that of connoted a peaceful death and would have been deeply consoling for the bereaved – or seated, as though (momentarily) in prayer, blissful repose or dozing – the knowing pretence of presence in absence of anima. In the early years of photography, these would have been both the first and last photograph of many a loved one. This was especially so in the case of babies and infants (illus. 25). In family groups, in coffins reminiscent of cots, babies posed with parents and siblings, the living and the dead, together and forever embalmed in emulsion – alike, rendered lifeless in the instant of exposure.
34 Christian Spiritualists had their own hymn book, which adapted the doggerel and sentimentality of Victorian hymnody to its own cosmology while retaining traditional tunes. As the Established and Nonconformist churches declined, Christian Spiritualists, like hermit crabs, salvaged and occupied vacated chapels, reshaping the ground plan and furnishings to fit their own ‘liturgy’. This adaptive tendency is a conspicuous characteristic of spirit photography too. As will be shown below, ‘extras’ assimilated ‘normal’ photographs, reproducing engraved, painted and drawn portraits, and statuary representing the deceased.
The negative revealed more detailed information than the positive image, and (paradoxically) it subsequently became the popularly accepted image of the Shroud and the most reproduced image of Christ (illus. 19 In the case of both spirits and the Shroud, photography sought to draw forth an image that was – whether invisible or barely discernible to the naked eye – supernatural in origin, in order to provide evidence of existence and to prove identity. While retaining a residue of the mysterium tremendum, the medium converted an immaterial phenomenon into a material one, turning a private, privileged and occasional experience (whether seen at the seance or sequestered in a church) into a public, inclusive and permanent record – providing a vicarious encounter with supernatural realities, while serving as a focus of, and to further, faith.