EVER SINCE THE CAMERA WAS INVENTED, IT HAS BEEN USED TO CAPTURE REALITY — AND THE UNFATHOMABLE UNREAL
Daniel Wojcik, a professor at the University of Oregon in Eugene, is a specialist in folklore, mythology, and religious culture. His research has also looked at unusual social-cultural customs, events, and practices, and at the work of certain outsider artists. He is now assembling a new book, Artist as Astronaut: The Otherworldly Art of Ionel Talpazan, which will be published in the near future in the United Kingdom by Strange Attractor and distributed in the U.S.A. by MIT Press. It will recall the life of a Romanian-born outsider artist who made paintings and sculptures depicting unidentified flying objects and died in 2015.
Wojcik is the author of Punk and Neo-Tribal Body Art (University Press of Mississippi, 1995), The End of the World as We Know It: Faith, Fatalism, and Apocalypse in America (New York University Press, 1997), and Outsider Art: Visionary Worlds and Trauma (University Press of Mississippi, 2016), among other works.
His article on Spiritualism appears here, in this same issue of brutjournal.
Below, he looks at the history of so-called spirit photos, some vintage examples of which, from the vernacular-photography collection of John Foster and his late wife, Teenuh, can be found in this other article in this current issue of brutjournal. Click here to see it.
by Daniel Wojcik
Soon after the invention of photography was announced publicly in 1839, it was widely believed that supernatural forces and images of otherworldly beings could be captured on film. Photographs of spirits and life energy proliferated in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and, today, similar images and associated beliefs continue to flourish about the photographic documentation of ghosts, divine beings, auras, psychic energies, and other supernormal phenomena.
So-called spirit (or occult) photography has received both scholarly and popular attention in recent years in the form of publications — important historical works in the fields of photography and film studies — and in the relating of new communications technologies to metaphysics. Some forms of contemporary art also have been inspired by the paranormal and technology.
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