Spectral Bodies and Superimposition in Photography and Film
Keywords:transparency, blur, superimposition, vanishing acts, post-mortem photography, spirit photography, ectoplasms, fantastic film, magicians, spectrality
During the Victorian age, post-mortem and spirit photography became increasingly popular so that those who had lost dear people were offered an extended mourning ground. These types of images were produced in great number in order to prove the existence of the other world. It is natural that many of these dead people portraits deal with transparency, blur and diffusion, as the result of superimposing reality and spectrality. Later on, ectoplasms were caught on photosensitive materials by a great number of spirit hunters, aiming at the same purpose of demonstrating the physicality of the invisible order. Cinema imported the spiritualist themes and the subjects related to them and continued the same tradition of revealing to the common eye of the spectator a supernatural realm. Our paper analyses the aesthetics of different styles and techniques of working with these delicate subjects in photography and film throughout the ages, from Mumler to Méliès.
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