Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Perfect Medium: Photography and the Occult” as Want to Read:
The Perfect Medium: Photography and the Occult
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Perfect Medium: Photography and the Occult

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  135 ratings  ·  13 reviews
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 substantiating the existence of supernatural beings and happenings. This fascinating book assembles more than 250 photographic images ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 1st 2005 by Yale University Press
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Perfect Medium, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Perfect Medium

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.41  · 
Rating details
 ·  135 ratings  ·  13 reviews

More filters
Sort order
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!
Sep 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
great collection of photos.
Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I have no experience with this other than my research but it is amazing and interesting to anyone who enjoys metaphysics.
Feb 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Carlos Soto
rated it it was amazing
Mar 30, 2013
rated it really liked it
Oct 15, 2013
John  Ervin
rated it it was amazing
Oct 30, 2009
rated it it was amazing
Dec 05, 2017
rated it it was amazing
Oct 09, 2010
rated it it was amazing
Aug 14, 2010
David Burkam
rated it it was amazing
Aug 13, 2010
rated it liked it
Sep 13, 2008
rated it really liked it
Dec 14, 2014
James Scarbrough
rated it really liked it
Jan 08, 2017
Joshua Disneyq
rated it liked it
Jun 25, 2017
rated it really liked it
Nov 23, 2011
rated it it was amazing
Jun 11, 2007
rated it really liked it
Dec 05, 2011
rated it it was amazing
Sep 24, 2008
rated it liked it
Mar 22, 2009
Ali Savic
rated it liked it
Oct 13, 2018
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Darkened Room: Women, Power, and Spiritualism in Late Victorian England
  • A Magician Among the Spirits
  • Diane Arbus: Untitled
  • Bellocq: Photographs from Storyville, the Red-Light District of New Orleans
  • Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women's Rights in Nineteenth-Century America
  • Witkin
  • American Grotesque
  • Sleeping Beauty: Memorial Photography in America
  • The Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology
  • Beyond the Dark Veil: Post Mortem & Mourning Photography from the Thanatos Archive
  • Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography
  • The Photography Reader
  • Talking to the Dead: Kate and Maggie Fox and the Rise of Spiritualism
  • The Architect's Brother
  • Deep South
  • Dissection: Photographs of a Rite of Passage in American Medicine 1880-1930
  • Tim Hetherington: Infidel
  • City of Dreadful Delight: Narratives of Sexual Danger in Late-Victorian London
See similar books…