Who knew that spectral photography was not dead?

With technology becoming more and more advanced, it is sparking many photographers interest to do something unconventional, unique and a bit antique. The practice of using photography to photograph the unknown is nothing new, since the camera was invented individuals have been attempting to use it for spectral photography. Check out this article originally from Artsy about it!

Anne Collier, Untitled, ( Tomma Abts), 2001 Covie Mora London, Mark Foxx Gallery, Los Angeles

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In 1936, cultural critic Walter Benjamin famously posited the loss of the “aura” in art—the aura being a mystical force that stemmed from an artwork’s unique presence in time and space. The rise of photography and film—media capable of being instantly reproduced—deprived images of a kind of magic, Benjamin wrote in his essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” However, while photography and film may have posed challenges to the notion of the artistic aura, they were the media of choice to capture the spiritual variety: When Benjamin penned his treatise, “aura photography”—efforts to capture psychic or metaphysical emanations—had been around for decades.More recently, the practice of capturing one’s aura on film is trending again. Over the past few years, roving aura photography lab Radiant Human has held pop-ups at major cultural destinations including the Aspen Art Museum and last year’s Pioneer Works Village Fête. Guests at actress Zosia Mamet’s wedding had their auras captured by the lab; so, too, did the staffof Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand, Goop.

Courtesy of Radiant Human.

In New York City’s Chinatown, a queue for aura photographs snakes around the interior of Magic Jewelry, a shoebox of a store located in a mini mall. And as it is virtually de rigueur to post one’s colorful aura on social media, searching #auraphotography on Instagram yields an impressive 11,000 results. The practice’s present-day popularity may in part be due to its ability to “serve as a conduit for those seeking a new kind of self-exploration,” says Christina Lonsdale, the artist behind Radiant Human. “Perceptions can pivot with the click of a shutter, illuminating our truest selves, and giving new light to what was there all along.”

The notion that a camera could lend the photographer its clairvoyant eye originated in the Victorian era. The environment was primed: Technological advancements in the field of photography, such as the development of the wet collodion process, made the medium relatively accessible, while paranormalism was taking North America and Europe by storm. Among the paranormal beliefs popular during the Victorian age was Franz Anton Mesmer’s 18th-century theory that all animate and inanimate things were charged with a “vital fluid.” (Mesmer also claimed that his hands secreted invisible energy that allowed him to tap into this universal flow.)

John Beattie, Illuminated Flames, c. 1972–73. Courtesy of Keith de Lellis.


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