Exhibition

Psychic Photographs

9 Oct 2007 – 30 Nov 2007

Event times

Tue-Fri 12-5pm & by appointment

Cost of entry

Free

Artandphotographs ltd

London, United Kingdom

Address

Travel Information

  • Piccadilly Circus / Green Park

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Psychic Photographs

About

artandphotographs gallery sifts the evidence for the
arguably self-fulfilling belief in spiritualism by the
bereaved (as against the more probable manipulation of
photographic séances), with a fascinating collection of
Psychic Photographs from the 19th and 20th centuries.

The strikingly surreal images taken at psychic séances by the successful Falconer brothers,
much praised and defended as genuine spirit photographers during the 1930s in the pages of
the weekly spiritualist publication, The Greater World, are evidently of devious intention
and effect.

Craig and George Falconer (whose mother was a conventional spiritualist medium)
specialised in holding sittings where visitors were allowed to see the camera being loaded
with fresh film and observe the whole process from exposure to development. This
reinforced the authenticity of their psychic photographs, distinguished by the appearance of
spirits or 'extras" alongside their human counterparts. They were eventually arrested, tried
and convicted of fraud in South Africa in 1931, on the evidence of two plainclothes men
posing as sitters. All their equipment was confiscated and the brothers were sentenced to pay
fines of £150 each, or serve 12 months imprisonment with hard labour. The prosecution
established that the 'extras' they obtained were photomechanical images that displayed the
dotted appearance of screen-printing. The cloudy 'ectoplasm' surrounding them was found to artandphotographs gallery sifts the evidence for the
arguably self-fulfilling belief in spiritualism by the
bereaved (as against the more probable manipulation of
photographic séances), with a fascinating collection of
Psychic Photographs from the 19th and 20th centuries.

The strikingly surreal images taken at psychic séances by the successful Falconer brothers,
much praised and defended as genuine spirit photographers during the 1930s in the pages of
the weekly spiritualist publication, The Greater World, are evidently of devious intention
and effect.

Craig and George Falconer (whose mother was a conventional spiritualist medium)
specialised in holding sittings where visitors were allowed to see the camera being loaded
with fresh film and observe the whole process from exposure to development. This
reinforced the authenticity of their psychic photographs, distinguished by the appearance of
spirits or 'extras" alongside their human counterparts. They were eventually arrested, tried
and convicted of fraud in South Africa in 1931, on the evidence of two plainclothes men
posing as sitters. All their equipment was confiscated and the brothers were sentenced to pay
fines of £150 each, or serve 12 months imprisonment with hard labour. The prosecution
established that the 'extras' they obtained were photomechanical images that displayed the
dotted appearance of screen-printing. The cloudy 'ectoplasm' surrounding them was found to artandphotographs gallery sifts the evidence for the
arguably self-fulfilling belief in spiritualism by the
bereaved (as against the more probable manipulation of
photographic séances), with a fascinating collection of
Psychic Photographs from the 19th and 20th centuries.

The strikingly surreal images taken at psychic séances by the successful Falconer brothers,
much praised and defended as genuine spirit photographers during the 1930s in the pages of
the weekly spiritualist publication, The Greater World, are evidently of devious intention
and effect.

Craig and George Falconer (whose mother was a conventional spiritualist medium)
specialised in holding sittings where visitors were allowed to see the camera being loaded
with fresh film and observe the whole process from exposure to development. This
reinforced the authenticity of their psychic photographs, distinguished by the appearance of
spirits or 'extras" alongside their human counterparts. They were eventually arrested, tried
and convicted of fraud in South Africa in 1931, on the evidence of two plainclothes men
posing as sitters. All their equipment was confiscated and the brothers were sentenced to pay
fines of £150 each, or serve 12 months imprisonment with hard labour. The prosecution
established that the 'extras' they obtained were photomechanical images that displayed the
dotted appearance of screen-printing. The cloudy 'ectoplasm' surrounding them was found to be cotton wool: a photographic cutting and cotton wool was in their possession. Most
incriminating, an unexposed plate, when developed showed a pre-exposed 'extra'. Despite
this the magazine continued to support them, collecting funds for their defense, contesting
the charges and condemning the verdict as the product of anti-spiritualist bias. Even Sir
Arthur Conan Doyle, who earlier espoused the fake photographs of fairies, seems to have
been convinced by what now appears blatant trickery.

Also included is a selection of Victorian photographs that often appear to delight in the naïve
insouciance of viewers, while simultaneously deploying all the obvious artifices of distinctly
amateur drama. Although many seem quite obviously faked from our now sophisticated
perspective of computer manipulation, we can appreciate that at the time these images were
not easily, or lightly made. Photography was still considered by some as a type of alchemy
and thus a natural ally of necromancy; not to mention the sheer amount of time that sitters
would have to hold still and props kept in place, during the long exposures required to make
them at all convincing.

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