Faces of the Living Dead: The Belief in Spirit Photography
by Martyn Jolly
"Faces of the Living Dead" examines the evolution and photographic techniques of spirit photography - the craze for photographing 'spirits', which ... Show synopsis "Faces of the Living Dead" examines the evolution and photographic techniques of spirit photography - the craze for photographing 'spirits', which was rooted in the popularity of Spiritualism and psychic research during the period from the 1870s to the 1930s. Subsequently proved to be fakes, the appearance of ghostly figures, spirit writing and ectoplasm in these photographs were, to the contemporary viewer, a miracle and an important means of contact with lost loved ones; a pertinent message as post-First-World-War grief swept Europe. Spirit photographers became celebrities, sought after by grieving individuals, and reviled by others as shameless frauds, preying on vulnerable people for their own gain. With several high-profile advocates, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, himself a spiritual evangelist, spirit photography was a powerful, contentious and sensational phenomenon of its time. Illustrated from the photographic collections of the British Library and other major archives in Britain and America, "Faces of the Living Dead" includes work from the leading spirit photographers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including Ada Deane, William Hope, Frederick Hudson and Edward Wyllie.