An exhibition of electronic media artworks examining the association of new media with supernatural phenomena. From the use of photography, ostensibly to document the dead in spirit photographs, through to the invention of the telegraph, radio and the introduction of television and computers – new media has consistently been associated with the paranormal.
Artists: Susan Hiller, Thomson & Craighead, Susan Collins, Scanner, S Mark Gubb, Lindsay Seers, Patrick Ward.
The development of telegraph & wireless allowed users to hear voices from the ether and had the power to disperse body & consciousness across the universe in the same way that the internet is seen to have done more recently – creating a space for disembodied communication. TV & video similarly were seen to create an ‘uncanny interactive zone’ between screen and reality, in which the supernatural could reside.
At our current point in time, when analogue media are being superseded by digital, both old and new electronic media are seen as potential spaces or conduits for supernatural messages and this ambiguous zone is being investigated by artists.
The exhibition includes Susan Hiller’s seminal installation Belshazzar’s Feast which relates in part to reports of the appearance of foreign beings seen on television screens after station close-down; Thomson & Craighead’s Obituary which explores the electronic ether as a space of overlap between technology and the spiritual and E-Poltergeist which is an intervention in a web browser which starts to misbehave, giving the feeling of a ghost in the machine. Susan Collins’ Spectrascope references parapsychological research and attempts to find this ghost in the machine by means of a pixel by pixel live internet link up to a haunted house; Scanner’s sound piece refers to the Electronic Voice Phenomenon of spectral voices in recordings of empty locations and presents a sound piece created from field recordings from spaces with ghostly associations. S Mark Gubb investigates backwards messages in records and plots connections with contemporaneous events. Lindsay Seers’ ‘then there were three’ is based on the possible traumatic, psychological effect the invention of television had on the dummy that John Logie Baird used in his first TV transmission and Patrick Ward presents filmic moments in which TV screens are overtaken by static signalling a communicating other. With reference to Haunted Media Jeffrey Sconce (London: Duke University Press, 2000)