Salt Lake City, UT: 2014. First edition. 18 cabinet sized cards [18.5 cm x 12.5 cm] including the title card and the artist's statement card. Housed in a two piece tin with (faux) suede matte board inserts and the title etched on to the top panel. Contents fine. Tin a bit dinged.
Printed on Hahnemuhle photo rag paper 308 GM with archival pigment inks trimmed and assembled by the artist
A handmade work from the Salt Lake City based artist and professor, Edward Bateman.This collection follows up on his earlier carte de visite collection 'Mechanical Brides of the Uncanny' and shows his evolving use of constructed and often anachronistic imagery to create allegedly historical artifacts that create metaphors for the camera and examine our belief in the photograph as impartial witness. Item #39201
At nearly the same time that photography was invented, Spiritualism was being born in the "burned-over district" of New York. Central to is belief was the practice of communication with discarnate human spirits. These two developments would intertwine in 1861 when William Howard Mumler produced the first spirit photograph.
Photography has always been used as a form of objective truth. Following the carnage of the American Civil War, people looked to spirit photographs as proof of the continued existence of their loved ones. This practice involved a human "medium" who would make contact with the dead, which could then be recorded on a photographic plate. The process rapidly spread across the U.S. and to the U.K., but was unreliable and prone to fraud. Trials were held protesting the activities of these spirits photographers with many respected witnesses supporting claims on both sides of the issue. Mumler himself, who photographed Mary Todd Lincoln with the ghost of the slain president, was brought to trial with none than P.T. Barnum testifying against him. He was acquitted, but ceased to practice and died in poverty.
At the same time, others sought new technologies which, like the camera, could extend human senses and without human intervention conclusively reveal the existence of life beyond the grave. Images in this collection show the use of magnetism, electricity, photography, chemical substances and steam. Documents dating from this time describe exotic (and possibly fictional) materials such as magnetic mercury, etheric vapors and resins, and ectoplasmic soils. The annihilation of space and time had seemingly been achieved by science and it is little wonder that its eye would be turned on the greatest of life's mysteries.
The images presented here document some of these inventors and their creations used to manifest discarnate spirits. We may doubt the truthfulness of their claims, but one thing is certain: the camera does indeed let us see the dead again, not as ghostly manifestations, but as meaningful and precious documents of those once lived. - Edward Bateman.