Phenomena of Materialization (2010-2012) Revisiting an early 20th century bible of the occult to pay homage to the sleight of hand of 19th c. female Spiritualist mediums, these large-scale photomontages are each made from a different print edition of the book "Phenomena of Materialization" by Baron Dr. von Schrenck Notzing (1914)
These large-scale collages are each made from a different print edition of the book "Phenomena of Materialization" by Baron Von Notzig. First published in 1914, this popular science book on ectoplasm was the first photographic evidence of the dead being able to communicate through material form with the living.
This project physical reworks published photographic evidence of “ectoplasm” supposedly produced during séances by female Spiritualist mediums. My work reconfigures the book into what appear to be large drips, stains, scribbles and blots—the deliberate and slow process of constructing collages like this is pitted against the suggested speed of these “accidental” forms. It is the artifice, the art, of the 20th century Spiritualists I am interested in, and am riffing upon. Their “women’s work” was to make things (messages and traces from the dead) seem to appear without the agency of the medium, while they were in fact orchestrating a very purposeful and deliberate performance. The best of these mediums out-maneuvered even trained scientific observers; it is this triumph that Notzig's book Phenomena of Materialization unknowingly attests to.