Anita La Pietra

Country

AUS

Affliliation

Monash University, Australia

Biography

Paper title

Celestial Striptease: Exposure in Nineteenth-Century Spirit Photography and Writing

Abstract

In 1882, Georgiana Houghton, the medium and accomplice of the notorious British spirit photographer Frederick Hudson, published a book in which she described the heavily veiled, 'uninvited guests' which had mysteriously appeared in Hudson's photographs. After a period of some months, she observed that 'the likenesses are assuming much more definiteness from the circumstance that the veil is being gradually withdrawn from the features''. In short, the spirits were beginning to disrobe. While much attention has recently been paid to the appearance of spirits in Victorian photography, the act of exposure, which is implicit in both the writing, and the images produced, has been overlooked. This paper will propose that nineteenth-century spirit photographs and their attendant discourse are best understood as acts of exposure--from the first portraits and accounts of ghostly, veiled figures on photographic glass plates to the full-body exposure of ectoplasm photographs used in the excruciatingly detailed scientific reports of Albert Schrenck-Notzing in 1920.

Date

Wednesday 28 September

Session

1:30pm - 3.00pm

Speaking

2:00pm

Email

A.LaPietra@latrobe.edu.au

Website

 
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