Thursday, May 26, 2016

Blogging for Thor: Writing in the Dark

Skotograph by Madge Donohoe, 1920s-30s.
What should I blog about, Spiders? I ask myself this every week that I haven't got an on-going experiment or process that I'm fiddling with. Earlier today, I was considering a post about lumen prints made primarily with opaque objects, like fruits and vegetables. The primary exposing agent in such a case would be the chemical interaction between the photo paper and the bio-matter, not light. Light might expose the uncovered areas of the paper, but anything that happened on the covered areas would be explicitly chemical. That's interesting to me, since it's photography without light. That should be impossible, right? Photography without light is... what? Chemistry? Chemography? Or... Skotography?

I looked up what the Greek root-word for "darkness" would be. Skotos, it turns out. Then, I had to wonder if 'skotography' is a word? Yes. Yes, it is. It's two words!

Scotography (another way to spell the same word, because going from one alphabet to another is a bit flexible) is the medical practice of using non-visible wavelengths of radiation to create images. X-Ray photography is, therefor, scotography.

There's also Skotography, which was a spiritualist practice in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The idea was that, in darkness, spirits could project energy onto photographic material and produce images. Skotography was the high-tech version of a seance, or table-rapping. Treating photography as magic has a long history, about as long as the history of photography itself. Today we have 'aura photography' or Kirlian photography. And ghost-hunters that use their cameras to image the supernatural. And, there are, of course, still people who believe in skotography.

People are weird, but the few supposed skotographs I've found are actually fairly interesting in appearance. There's even a French artist who is doing a modern project inspired by the work of Madge Donohoe, a popular skotographer during the 20's and 30's.

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