Sunday, 31 October 2010


wooden owl from the collection of Rhian Thompson
Happy Halloween. Watch out for those owls ...

the mysterious unknown by robert charroux

Robert Charroux (the pen-name of Robert Grugeau) was a former postman and sci-fi writer who made a bundle on writing several non-fiction books, starting with The Mysterious Unknown, in the last decade of his life. 

Erich Von Daniken was said to have been influenced heavily by Charroux's work, and both took a big chunk out of Pauwels and Bergier's seminal, occult revival relaunching 1960 work The Morning Of The Magicians. 

Charroux, like many others, also milked this money-spinning goat to the hilt throughout the 70s, introducing "new knowledge" about ancient astronauts and their lessons for us in further tantalising titles like Forgotten Worlds: Scientific Secrets And Their Warning For Our Time, Legacy Of The Gods and Masters Of The World: Groundbreaking New Revelations About The Ancient Astronauts.

georges méliès' magical fantastical film world

George Méliès' was a pioneering film-maker who is best-known today for his 1902 epic, A Trip To The Moon, a surreal space voyage that makes use of every ounce of his talent for film magic. This was Méliès at the peak of his career, turning over the conventions of the already popular medium by creating narratives of multiple scenes, and more importantly experimenting with special effects and multiple exposures to produce visual illusions that are still beautifully stunning. Méliès made the most of his knowledge of stage magic to amaze audiences, and even performed in some films, (as in the video above) where his charms go beyond invisible celluloid manipulation into timeless trickster captivation.

Knowledge magazine, 1961

I couldn't understand why I kept being drawn back to this cover from Knowledge ("The colour magazine which grows into an encyclopaedia") until I saw a 1972 book called The Astrological Significance Of Stonehenge. Suddenly the giant machine looked like a megalith, and the atomic signs in the sky the stars, the striving for a magical future through technology harking back to the past. (this may just be the crazy fruits of thinking about all this too much, of course ...)

chislehurst caves

Last call for tours of the labyrinth of Chislehurst Caves before Halloween night sets in. The last ghost tour might have gone, but daytime tours still descend into inky blackness and claustraphobic silence, exploring 20 miles of warren-like tunnels over 8,000 years old. 

With a history that includes druidic rituals, Saxons, Romans, Civil War soldiers, mushroom-farmers, those seeking shelter from the second world war blitz and also use in the 60s as an alternative gig venue for the likes of Jimi Hendrix and the Animals, there's more than a few ghosts around.

The aim of the "The Challenge" was to see if anyone, despite the ghost stories, could spend a night in the caves, with £5 as reward. No one claimed the fiver, and the last time it took place in 1985, it ended with one of the challengers running to find his partner wild-eyed and screaming, with the reason why apparently captured on tape. Nowadays, the scariest part might be seeing the historical waxworks. I couldn't even take pictures of the child waxworks last Halloween.

spook hill postcard

(originally uploaded by Neato Coolville)
Neato Coolville present another fine example of America capitalising on its unlikely attractions, with postcards (and accompanying photo of the amazing local motel sign) from Spook Hill near Lake Wales in Florida. William Castle would've been proud. Why can't we be as tacky and have postcards for our favourite haunted / megalithically enchanted / UFO hotspots?

By the way, Neato Coolville always does a great Halloween countdown blog series every October, and they archive them too.

park of the monsters

originally uploaded to flickr by workflo
Amusement parks and fairground rides are all very well, but Pier Francesco Orsini's 17th-century Park Of The Monsters (link via Kuriositas) in Bomarzo, central Italy is a weird and wonderful thrill attraction of a wholly fantastical kind.

Random oversized mythological creatures and gape-mouthed ogres await the astonishment of visitors, lurking amid foliage and plants, apparently appearing out of hillsides and beckoning entry to who knows what kind of underworld.

Restoration work on the formerly neglected gardens means that some of the best sculptures are protected by fences, but the surreal magic of the place that influenced the likes of Salvador Dalí, Jean Cocteau and Niki De Saint Phalle still dominates. And who wouldn't love to imagine, walking around, that these stone behemoths might come to life?

nika neelova's ghostly art

The Missing House, courtesy of Nika Neelova
It's both a timely delight and welcome surprise to see Nika Neelova win the New Sensations Saatchi Prize. The rescued architectural ruins of her "decaying skeletal installations" resonate most here, but they're only the latest works that have drawn on 23-year-old Russian-born artist's own experiences of displacement and the transitory.

Forest trees have been turned into ghostly signposts with a layer of white emulsion, a collaborative piece saw a carpet of 20,000 eggshells ground to powder by a dancer to expose the fragility of any sense of permanence and a coat of arms made out of sheep bones (and called Bend Sinister) made a fantastic gothic memento mori out of the family tree.

The Missing House (pictured) which was shown last year at the Woburn Square Gallery in London, was all the more spooky for being lifted out of its apparent abandoned mansion setting, a rickety wooden staircase that went nowhere and made a truly ethereal contrast with the bright whiteness of the gallery all the more stark. 

The work that won Nika Neelova the recent New Sensations Prize, The Night Also Falls, takes this contrast a step further, with remains reclaimed from skips and architectural salvage as before, but the materials are completely charred (and charcoal), ready to crumble at any moment,  like celebrating not only the neglected and forgotten, but settings gone forever and supernaturally revisioned. Like her previous pieces, it's also really, really big - not just a fragment of memory, but the deep roots and epic scale of the past in physical form.

Friday, 29 October 2010

mexico's island of the dolls

In the remains of the Aztec canals of Xochimilico in south Mexico, a collection of talismans to outdo the Blair Witch Project have become, as Weburbanist summarised perfectly (with great photos) Mexico's "Creepiest Tourist Destination". Land on one particular stretch and you're surrounded by thousands of old, disfigured, eyeless, dirty dolls, many hanging from the trees. Part shrine, part juju, the dolls were collected by a hermit to honour and appease the spirit of a young girl who had drowned nearby. There's a clutch of pictures on flickr but, for me, Jade Cantwell's Holga shots (pictured, my favourite) capture the eerieness.

parker brothers ouija board ad, 1968

It may come as a surprise to learn that Ouija Board is a trademark owned by the Parker Brothers games company. It's not such a surprise that it's been one of their bestsellers for more than 40 years though.

Ouija boards had been the hit byproduct of the mid-1800s taste for the occult, mesmerism, spiritualism and all forms of energy channelling. Patented in 1854, it quickly became a favoured parlor game for any Victorian family, and swiftly outgrew its original patent description of reading the minds of people with "nervous energy" to become a way of contacting the dead.

William Fuld created the 20th century version of these talking boards, and their design was much the same by the time he decided to retire and sold the patent to Parker Brothers in 1966. What had changed was that the occult was having its biggest revival since the Victorian era, and so too did Ouija Boards, becoming part of the paraphernalia of the revolutionary 60s while at the same time accepted into the mainstream as a fun leisure activity.

For those who might denounce them as satanic, adverts like the one pictured, from 1968, returned Ouija boards to their roots as a mind-reader, but who knows whose mind was meant to be telling the user who was taking Debbie to the prom or whether flying saucers were real?

echoes : poe

"The realities of the world affected me as visions, and as visions only, while the wild ideas of the land of dreams became, in turn, not the material of my every-day existence, but in very deed that existence utterly and solely in itself."

(from the short story Berenice by Edgar Allan Poe, like other such stories which had made their authors famous, what we'd now call a pulp horror: "the fearful coloured into the horrible... the singular wrought out into the strange and mystical" as Poe wrote in a letter to a would-be publisher in 1835)

Taxidermy birds photographed in the Viktor Wynd Shop on Mare Street, E8

Thursday, 28 October 2010

tis' the season...

Glyptodon (originally uploaded by seriykotik1970)
... to dwell on mortality and other morbid curiousities, as befits the time of the year when the veil between this world and the next is meant to be at its thinnest, so ideal timing for the wonderful Herb Lester Associates to add to their reputation for revealing true hidden corners of London by revelling, horrified, in the macabre anatomical wonders of The Hunterian Museum.

Likewise, time for a visit to the Angela Palmer's ongoing Ghost Forest, an installation of giant rainforest tree stumps in the grounds of Oxford's Pitt-Rivers museum (and then enter the Victorian collections of curiosities - monkey skull, spirit ship toy, witch in a bottle, giant totem pole and shrunken voodoo head being only the most notorious - in a suitably arcane setting of dark wood and glass cases).

For those stout of stomach, the grisly bell jars of pickled monstrosities of Glasgow's Museum Of Anatomy trump intellectual fascination with gut-wrenching gore. Tucked away amid the gothic towers of Glasgow University, this apparent partner to a Frankenstein lab can ramp up the fear better than any ghost walk. James Mooney's flickr set may prove the point a little too starkly for some.

For now I'm still fixated on the cenozoic South American glyptodon (pictured) and its likeness to a "flattened Volkswagen beetle" while looking like a kind of HP Lovecraft faceless monster, captured alongside other shots of the Comparative Anatomy Museum in atmospheric 60s Kodak Retinette by Russian flickrite Ian (seriykotik).

urban traces, spectral urbex

Kasteel van Mesen, Lede, Belgium  (originally uploaded by nikozz)
 Urban Ghosts Media have a lovely guide to urbex, or exploring the abandoned, unloved or overlooked places with haunting pictures that include those by Dutch photographer Niek Beck (nikozz)of the Castle of Messines, a 9th/10th century fortification that campaigners had battled to save, but which was demolished earlier this year.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

fantasy head postcard

the dark dollworld of Shain Erin

Dolls, waxworks and puppets can be instantly creepy, their uncanniness inhabiting the horrorland of inanimate objects that come to life and, invariably, if fiction and film have taught us anything, try to kill you (would you really want Pinocchio to become real?), so when I first saw Shain Erin's art dolls on his Etsy shop, what amazed me was how he had turned that sinister side upside down.

Where the apparently beautiful Victorian porcelain-faced dolls mask all kinds of imagined nightmares, Erin's dolls, gruesome as they appear, seem benign. As Erin says on his website, he sets out to use visions of grotesque myth to celebrate those "born different". The results, though not beautiful to many, are amazing.

Babette The Beastly Beauty (pictured), is a particular favourite, but Erin's cavalcade of underworld figurines (sold out for now) has also featured cryptozoological-like creatures, bulging cyclops babies or babies with punk-fashioned nails for hair, and beings with multiple limbs, crusted growths and necklaces made out of teeth. Now doesn't that sound like the perfect gift box to open on your doorstep?

futurist spirits

Anton Bragaglia (1890-1960) was an Italian Futurist whose experiments in chronophotography in 1910 led to a series of occult-ish images which are still sci-fi ghostly and unsettling in their timeslip suggestion. Ironically, his photographs were thought to be a threat to Futurist painting and so he was expelled from the movement in 1913. 

hauntology, californian-style

Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive hosts a pre-Halloween Hauntology gathering this Friday to go with their ongoing Hauntology exhibition. Like the exhibition, which has works by artists including Diane Arbus, Paul Schiek, Arnold Kemp and Luc Tuymans, this hauntological gathering uses the spectre of Derrida to explore ideas from the elusive and disappeared to the transitory or displaced, with "spectral sounds", an aural/visual installation, films including a screening of Silent Snow, Secret Snow (see below), an adaptation of Conrad Aiken's eerie 1934 story by Gene Kearney (later a writer on Rod Serling's Night Gallery series), a ghostly procession and an early evening discussion about hauntology and art, literature, collecting and contemporary American politics and culture. 


Spotted through the glass corridor at Brunel University in Uxbridge, like a past scene trapped in the present. As if Brunel, the setting for scenes from The Rise & Rise Of Michael Rimmer and Clockwork Orange among other films and TV programmes, and a controversial brutalist icon in its own right, wasn't already vividly historical.

wireless fear (don't touch that dial)

(uploaded to flickr by fnktrm)

"Lock yourself in a windowless room alone, turn out the light, and put your radio on in such a way that all you get is screams and moans and unearthly noises produced by static. Unless you are the rare exception, you will very hastily switch on the light, fully expecting to see some terrifying intruder in the empty room with you."

James Whale, press book for The Bride Of Frankenstein (1935)

Horror film marathons are the skeletal backbone (or at least kneebone) of any modern Halloween, but the BBC rerelease (them again, I know) this month of the remaining episodes of the pioneering 40s and 50s radio series Appointment With Fear and the 70s radio series The Price Of Fear made me think of having a horror radio marathon.

Fireside frights and trepidation for the imagination to feed on work well with the dark, or even in the light, complete with sound effects, silence and the unnerving eloquent narration by The Man In Black (aka old Harrovian actor Valentine Dyall on Appointment With Fear) or Vincent Price (deliciously revealing each gory morsel of the tale drip by insinuating drip in The Price Of Fear). As Tony Palermo says in his guide for writing radio horror "You need only suggest something and the audience will conjure it up in their minds."

Appointment With Fear introduced stories by Edgar Allan Poe, MR James and John Dickson Carr to wireless listeners while Vincent Price told and starred in four fully cast dramas filled with mischevious macabre and suspense. There's plenty more around to make the ears bleed with terror, or just enjoy like a thrill ride, like the mammoth audio archive at that includes witches tales, radio theatre and the secrets of magic and witchcraft, the lurid creepiness of The Black Museum, with Orson Welles in time-honoured mode of calmly scaring people out of their wits with "true-life" tales of London murder mysteries, or the unexpected accompaniment to a wing-backed velvet armchair and a large cognac in the form of Vintage Horror Radio itunes podcasts. Maybe you can disguise the computer with a big picture of vintage wireless. I like this sinister-looking Japanese transistor (pictured) that looks like it might either fry your mind or turn you into some kind of mind manipulated robot when you put the headphones in. Or maybe you can just tune into some static and listen for the uncanny.

next stop, croydon

NLA tower recently completed - 1972  (uploaded to flickr by Ian-S)

Sue Perkins recently returned to her home town for BBC R4's The Seven Car Parks Of Croydon and managed to celebrate this "inferno of concrete" that's been the butt of jokes by so many that even Basil Brush, according to fellow Croydonite Steve Punt, had made jokes about it. Croydon came across like a real mini-Manhattan, an ex-village attempting to be a futuristic city. It was, as Punt put it, ambitious in a very British, Tony Hancock, Reggie Perrin way, but Croydon also came across experimental and imaginative, and not just in its planning of hexagonal towers and flyovers.

Clocktower Arts new festival Are We Here? A Festival Of Place, which the programme was pegged to, toots the horn of Croydon's brutalist/modernist legacy and the idea of place as a source of arts inspiration throughout November, led by the instant eyecatching appeal of a retrospective of Jonathan Meades documentaries, and screenings of St Etienne's loving filmic odes This Is Tomorrow (November 4), Finisterre and What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day? (November 11).

I have the same fascination with Croydon that I do with lots of new towns. Like plenty (ok, some*) of my generation, probably turned on by a mixture watching Gregory's Girl (Cumbernauld), Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (Stevenage) and even A Clockwork Orange (Thamesmead & Brunel University, London) plus a big dose of idealising the youthful forward-looking vision of the 50s to early 70s, and that ever-hardy kinship with dismissed or forgotten gems. But though I've passed that NLA tower (pictured, from a great flickr set of 60s/70s pictures of Croydon) dozens of times on the train to or from Brighton, I've only had a chance to wander around a couple of times, so I'll spend more time there next month than I have in the past 10 years. Time to go back to the future properly.

(* as I realised, again, when I went on the Open House weekend tour of Brunel University with my friend Christina - we both thought the tours might be sold out but no, just us and about half a dozen others)

Saturday, 23 October 2010

lego ghost coach

Ghost Coach 

Who doesn't love Lego made spooky? Sleepy Hollow/Haunted Mansion-inspired ghost coach in Lego by Jason Schwartz (via Super Punch)

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

electronic ghosts : konstantin raudive and evp

Konstantin Raudive was a Latvian psychologist and student of Carl Jung and university lecturer in Sweden who devoted the last 15 or so years of his life to communicating with the dead through electronic media. 

Late on in his research Raudive thought a parakeet might also be channelling messages from the other side, and said he sometimes heard telepathic messages when he wasn't recording, but that's another story.

Capturing what he defined as fragmentary telegram-like messages in many languages using a running mic, radio white noise and an untuned crystal set through more than 100,000 laboratory recordings, Raudive popularised the idea of electronic voice phenomena, or EVP. 

Electronic voice recorders are now standard issue in any ghost hunter's kit, and just the latest link in a chain of technology (modern magic) used to contact the spirit world that goes back to the Victorian spiritualists and their notorious yet mesmerising ghost photography. 

Raudive published two books before his death in 1974, the bestseller Breakthrough: An Amazing Experiment In Electronic Communication With The Dead (1968) and Do We Live After Death (1971, pictured), though Raymond Bayless, another occult-investigating sound experimenter, trumped him on title alone with his 1979 book Phone Calls From The Dead. Kudos name-wise should also be given to William O'Neil's 1980 contraption, The Spiricom, built to a psychic spec and apparently capable of two-way spirit conversations.

Read Jared Keane Feldman's essay Specters of The Spectrum for more on Raudive

echoes : jan svankmajer

"Use animation as a magical act. Animation isn't about moving inert things but their revival. More precisely their awakening to life ... Objects, particularly old ones, have witnessed all sorts of events and lives, and bear their imprint. People have touched them in different situations and with different emotions and printed into them their psychological states. If you wish to make their hidden contents visible through the use of a camera then you have to listen to them."

The Decalogue of Jan Svankmajer, 1999 (translated by Tereza Stehlíková)

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

randomness October

One of the things about doing this blog, or any blog, or any kind of project you get absorbed in, is that potential subjects to write about start popping up everywhere. And then there's Halloween, my favourite time of year. But while I sift through all the possibilities (and try not to get distracted by kicking piles of beautiful autumn leaves and working out how much Halloweenness I can squeeze in this year), this is me catching up with myself about a bunch of stuff:

*First, thanks to Joel Chernin for his double exposed polaroid - very Arthur C Clarke ...

 * I've been reading Peter Ackroyd's Spectres Through Time, a collection of ghost folk tales and incidents from mysterious motorway hitchhikers to spirit dogs that celebrates England's love of being haunted (they see more ghosts than any other nation apparently), and opens with the very spectral dimension-friendly idea of spirits as "a bridge of light between the past and present, or between the living and the dead" - a fixation that goes hand in hand with history and archaeology.

* The first episode of A History Of Horror was as knowledgeable and entertaining as I'd expect from Mark Gatiss (as in: very), and I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the series, as well as Gatiss himself in the adaptation of HG Wells' First Men In The Moon on BBC4 next week.

*Burke And Hare, the comedy version of the tale of the 19th century Edinburgh graverobbers out in a couple of weeks, is too tempting not to see, especially with Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis starring. I'm just glad it's not a musical.

*Let Me In, the English-speaking version of the Swedish vampire film stunner, Let The Right One In, is easy to add to the wait-for-rental list, but I wish I could get to the Compass Festival Of Lunacy in Bristol, a Halloween festival promising performance, spoken word, installations, music and films including a big screen showing of The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari. I also want a poster of the festival logo - a dandy little 50s style cartoon chap with a movie camera, a globe for a head and a natty hat.

*The Chatsworth Attic Sale looked like the most amazing clear out of ramshackle stuff from an aristocratic home.

*Likewise, the assorted abandoned space paraphernalia at the secret department of the Moscow Aviation Institute make for stunning photos of abandoned cold war relics.

*Visions of unsettling memories, urban traces, mythic inspiration and all kinds of hauntological kinship seems to be spilling out of the art world (or maybe I'm seeing connections where there are none), but the Flashier And Trashier group show in the Crypt Gallery of St Pancras Church (a kitsch recycling and reclaiming of objects tagged with ideas like what we should wear on the way to the afterlife and what "hidden powers" discarded objects have) looks like a good place to start.

* I'm also glad to discover that Magic Show is now in London at the Pump House Gallery (the last stop of a nationwide, year-long Hayward tour - d'oh), so I can see the photos of blurry levitators and illusion props up close in 3D.

electronic palm reading

(uploaded by flickr by Unmann-Wittering

All those hands, reaching out to ...

70s psychedelic zodiac puzzle

For contemplating the vagaries of your star sign, what better than a Peter Max-style zodiac puzzle  SterlingQuest has three of the set of highly collectable and temptingly displayable 12 designed by Donni Giambrone for sale on Etsy. Put it together at a smokey glass low coffee table, sitting on a shagpile rug in a kaftan.

langham house close

The Grade II listed, late 50s apartment blocks of Langham House Close near Ham Common in London (much beloved by the Twentieth Century Society) are amazing reflections of the "new brutalism" vision, and Stirling & Gowan's design is still overwhelming when you see it up close (thanks Open House weekend). Where the Span houses of Eric Lyons are bright, Legoland like displays of cuteness, Langham House is a functional extreme, and the impact is pure modernist myth.

the observer magazine, 1967

The Observer's Halloween issue for 1967 explored our fascination with ghosts and spiritualism ("The Mediums And The Message" tagline capturing the Marshall McLuhan-influenced zeitgeist) in a wonderful cover feature. "Should we really be believing in ghosts in the 20th century?", they asked, mixing in pictures of mediums and spiritualist meetings that look as eerily spectral now as the faked Victorian spirit photographic images they also used across several spreads. Despite the futuristic leaps of the era, it seemed that question, and whether it could be answered by the mind would remain an "irritating mystery", as investigating journalist Paul Ferris put it.  Nowadays, it looks like we are, at least as newspaper readers, more at ease with the supernatural or otherworldly, so that fringe-explorers like Mark Pilkington can even provide a Top 10 of UFO books.

Friday, 8 October 2010

the london nobody knows

It would take a lot, when it comes to seeing The London That Nobody Knows cinematically, to match Travis Elborough's London Transport Museum screening (along with the 1955 portrait of a night in a Wood Green rhythm and blues club, Momma Don't Allow), as part of a London Transport Museum season of late night openings a couple of years ago. But while the former hidden gem, now cult favourite beloved by St Etienne's Bob Stanley among others, is now freely available on DVD, seeing it on the big screen is a rare treat. 

London's ICA are doing one of the periodic screenings of both The London That Nobody Knows and Momma Don't Allow from today until next Wednesday, as part of the Story Of London festival. It's certainly a more understandable pairing than the DVD coupling of The London That Nobody Knows with the odd 1968 musical wonder Les Bicyclette De Belsize and, like the BFI Flipside offerings of Primitive London, gets you a little closer to stepping back in time to London's ever-present past.

If you want to see the gritty, mondo trasho seeds of The London Nobody Knows, watch fellow Flipside DVD release London In The Raw (left) - a guide to the underbelly of swinging London, seedy Soho bars, leering middle-aged men, rough-looking strippers and all.

the hip hypnotist

The fabulously bouffanted Pat Collins really was The Hip Hypnotist in the 60s, pioneering hypnotism as entertainment in early 60s Los Angeles clubs before opening her own nightclub on the Sunset Strip. 

Turn On! The Power Of The Mind: Songs And Self Suggestions melds hits like I Only Have Eyes For You and Goin' Out Of My Head with self-hypnosis tips for your issues.

Pat popped up all over American TV chat shows and sitcomes throughout the late 60s and into 70s (below, The Lucy Show).

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

portraits of mr price (a further instalment ...)

Bluewater Productions resurrected the king of macabre as the host and star of their monthly Vincent Price Presents... comics in time for Halloween 2008. 

It's now up to issue 24; a feast of illustrated adaptations of Vincent films including The Pit And The Pendulum and the demonic wonder that was Dr Phibes, as well as intriguing new stories full of gothic mansions, twisted scientific experiments and surreal manifestations. 

In time for Halloween 2010, Bluewater are bringing out an omnibus book edition of the comics (out this Friday). 

Vincent Price Presents... also features original artwork by Jim McDermott - look out for his spectral rendering of the famous picture of Vincent holding the bulging-eyed prop head of Peter Lorre, Hamlet-style.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

we challenge you ...

One of the several horror/supernatural comics put out just by DC in the 70s, running for over 100 issues from 1971 to 1982. It's no Tales From The Crypt, but the artwork and titles are still spook pulp beauties.

Monday, 4 October 2010

flipside's mysterious britain night

Hauntology/paranormal geek-friendly screenings at the BFI on Friday 29 October open this year's Flipside Halloween celebration of the cinematically weird and wonderfully obscure. Mysterious Britain is the theme, so it should be no surprise that it includes footage of both Arthur C Clarke and John Betjeman on stone circles. I've written about Betjeman's Avebury film, but I've only seen it on a small screen. Cinemascope megaliths should be suitably strange. Other promised treasures on the night include a 60s documentary on witchcraft in Norfolk, a 1970 report on the Highgate Vampire and a dramatisation of a hypnosis session about a grave's secret by Penda's Fen scriptwriter David Rudkin.

All of which reminded me of the Reverend Stewart Lamont, a friend of a friend's family I met several times as a teenager and a minister and parapsychologist who told truly amazing tales of poltergeists, past-life regression and telekenesis. The reverend explored the paranormal in a BBC Scotland series in the early 70s called Is Anybody There?, but I've never seen it. One to dig up (somehow).

Saturday, 2 October 2010


View-Masters are the 20th century novelty version of a 19th century stereoscopic vision and certainly the cutest form of virtual geography, a mimesis where you see yourself in another land, whether past, future or imaginary, but where all the colours are heightened and the perspective is somehow wrong, making them both technological relic and inhabited by the spirit of an optical ideal.

Or, as pictured here, you view the possibilities of technology with the 3D of stereoscope technology.

The American artist that goes by the name Vladimir has been making her own Vladmasters since 2003, adding accompanying audio soundtracks to a visual narrative that takes the wonder of stereoscopes into a whole new dimension.