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The Perfect Medium: Photography and the Occult

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  139 ratings  ·  11 reviews
The mesmerizing photographic history of occult phenomena, from levitations and apparitions to spectres, ghosts, and auras.

In the early days of photography, many believed and hoped that the camera would prove more efficient than the human eye in capturing the unseen. Spiritualists and animists of the nineteenth century seized on the new technology as a method of substantia
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 1st 2005 by Yale University Press
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Average rating 4.41  · 
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 ·  139 ratings  ·  11 reviews

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J.W.D. Nicolello
Unsure of what to rate this. Found at random in the library and spent part of the afternoon looking over the photographs and reading the prose. Thought of ordering it for coffee table. Made wise choice and passed. Thought of drafting a short story about a man who sleeps in cardboard dumpsters till he finds God. Read ancient Chinese poetry instead. Thought about the futile institution of marriage. Thursday 2017. My life as a dog.
Frank McAdam
May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art-photography
The Perfect Medium: Photography and the Occult, published to accompany a 2005 exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum, is one of the most delightful photography books I've come across in a long while. It's the first comprehensive study of which I'm aware to devote itself to the use of photography as a tool in parapsychological research and to trace the uneasy relationship between photographic science and spiritualist belief.

The book is divided into three sections - Photographs of Spirits, Photographs
May 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Produced in conjunction with the 2005 exhibition of the same name at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Perfect Medium makes one thing perfectly clear from the start: the editors take absolutely no position as to the veracity of the phenomena depicted in the photos herein. None. Nada. Nope, be the spirits ever-so-obviously double exposures, be the ectoplasm expelled by the medium ever-so-obviously cheesecloth, be the science supporting the images be ever-so-obviously-pseudo, the editors ...more
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
As an exhibition catalog, I found the exposition to be well written but perhaps too short. Understandably, I would need to have seen the exhibition to get more context, but this fascinating subject isn't covered as well as I would have liked in the catalog. The layout of the photographs could also have been better.
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Occult photographs backed with art history essays. If this appeals to you, you will enjoy this book.
Bill Wallace
Jun 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
A beautiful book full of intriguing images. As evidence of the objective reality of mediumistic phenomena, the remarkable collection of photographs in this book is a mixed bag. Many of the photos are, being kind, unconvincing to a modern eye, though they provide an insight into the capacity for belief in another age -- when the lines between science and claptrap were not quite drawn. Broken into roughly four sections -- formal photographs and cabinet cards of the departed made by professional sp ...more
Feb 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is the exhibition book for the excellent Met exhibit of the same name. Photographs, mostly from the Victorian era through the 1930s, of mediums and supposedly supernatural phenomena are accompanied by excellent essays about the major players in the field of spirit photography. It's an amazing book, particularly if you're interested in the Spiritualists and in the power of photography. Definitely well worth the hefty price tag -- this is one I'm going to keep coming back to over and over aga ...more
Aaron the Pink Donut
Aug 31, 2007 rated it really liked it
This is the exhibit catalogue to the special exhibit entitled:” The Perfect Medium: Photography and the Occult" which ran at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York back in 2005. This volume contains Hundreds of lavish photos of all sorts of bizarre paranormal activity form the late 19th and early 20th century. A really special book. This volume has a little bit of everything; Ghosts, spirit séances, levitation, auras, ectoplasm you name it is more than likely in here, all absolutely beautif ...more
Jan 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: photography
Weird....... but good.
Oct 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: photo-books
i loved this show!! and i saw p.giamatti there!
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