Friday, June 7, 2013

Tons of great Northern Spark information!  Tomorrow is the big day!

SO! We spoke on 6/1 at the McNally Smith for a Pre Northern Spark Artist talk. It was a really fun event, and big thanks to the attendees, artists, and of course Sarah and Steve.

It was such a great conversation that we didn’t stick much to script, but here are some of the things we prepared for:

The idea for your project and where it came from:
This is our first collaboration, and it came out of a chance meeting revolving around talks we were both doing at the MIA surrounding work we each did for their photography Art Cart.  We got chatting about photography, ghosts, and the paranormal and quickly discovered we had very similar interests artistically, historically, and aesthetically.  Beyond our art practice, we both do have a stake in the subject matter sharing a life-long interest; Lacey has studied to be a Spiritualist medium and healer and Nathan has been involved with a paranormal investigation group for many years. In terms of the topic, we’re not outsiders looking in, we’re insiders trying to get people to join us.
Above all though, we owe Kerry Morgan and MCAD an immense amount of gratitude as she is one who gave us the opportunity and support.

What inspired you to make your artwork :
The love and curiosity of Spiritualism and all things otherworldly.  We’re very interested in the role that photography plays as a tool to simultaneously prove and disprove, prophet and denier.
Photography can “convince the unprejudiced inquirer or the rational and sincere believer, that is is impossible that his faith be false” - George Stein Keith, 1844. We talk a lot about photography being the closest thing to encountering those that have passed.

Whether Northern Spark inspires you to work in a different way:
The scale is the most exciting part, it’s a very interesting thing to prepare for tens-of-thousands of people to visit your project within hours.  It’s quite a task to figure out how to have a collective participatory event that also allows for individual experience and connection with the work. It’s funny, because so much of the materials we’re using, we already have in our own homes, so building this parlor is like inviting the entire Twin Cities denizens into our living rooms…or fantasy living rooms. We are looking forward to playing off the group-energy of a crowd and watching them paw through the installation.

How does this project fit in with your other work:
We’re both avid makers and collectors, so in some ways this a chance to explore all the facets of our larger interests outside of photography and/or the things that inspire us to make photographs. Both of us draw on history and historical photographic processes.

What do you hope people will experience with your artwork:
A sense of wonder, a sense of reverence for those who came before us and put energy into making and building structures, lives, histories that still influence us today.  A feeling that they’re not alone in this life, that they know they’re magical beings.

Why it was made for an all-night, public audience platform:
Séances, ghostly encounters, photography—these things are known to take place in the dark (room).  The photograph has to be disclosed in the dark, and before it can be introduced to the light it has undergo a transformation, an interpretation by a medium.  The connection of the medium and spiritualist beliefs are undeniable, One intends to the revive the dead, whereas the other attempts to stop one from ever dying.  As an anonymous spectator noted in 1839, Photography was:
More like some marvel of a fairy tale or delusion of necromancy than a practical reality.
Which is funny because Henry Fox Talbot often called his Calotypes, Fairy Pictures.

We were also lucky enough to be featured in Vita.MN's guide to Northern Spark:

...and doubly lucky to be given a shout-out by l’étoile

Can't wait for tomorrow night...Northern Spark 2013!!!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Spirit Telephone

Have you downloaded the Northern Spark app for your smart phone? Cool way to plan your night, make sure to include multiple visits to us!

Speaking of phones, what do you think of Thomas Edison’s “Telephone to the Dead”?

The “Telephone to the Dead” is the name that was given to the device Thomas Edison was working on in the last decade of his life. In multiple essays on spiritualism written during the early 1920′s (all are available in the book The Diary and Sundry Observations of Thomas Edison by Dagobert Runes, 1948*), Edison tried to grapple with the concept of how the spirit could exist after death. He thought that the “life units” that were unknown by science joined together to create every animate (and possibly inanimate) object. Upon death, these life units broke up into their respective individual units and joined another form after human death.
This instrument has been dubbed as the “Telephone to the Dead,” and currently, this instrument that Edison was working on has never turned up. Edison never referred to his device as the Telephone to the Dead; it is a name that has been given to this device by paranormal researchers. In his essays, the item he was working on was likened to to a valve that would amplify the ability for the swarms to manipulate the object so that “it does not matter how slight is the effort, it will be sufficient to record whatever there is to be recorded.” Until this day, the plans for Edison’s device have yet to be discovered and the Edison Estate (and many skeptics) claim that Edison must therefore have never worked on a device to communicate with the dead despite these essays saying the exact opposite. - Woolworth, 2011