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October 16, 2012

Photographing the Invisible

These photos of shadows — white shadows in the streets of Paris, white marks on the dark skin of strange foreigners photographed in Paris, Lisbon, Gondar or Zanzibar.

In the 1850s, these shadows suddenly gained power in various images when the presence of unexplained white silhouettes was noticed: many stories tell of translucent apparitions of the dead among the living, from which William Mumler soon figured out he could make money.

The photographic technique met the fashion of the occult and spiritualism, and because the possibilities of the simplest tricks fulfilled the desire to see and to reveal invisible spirits, ghosts who accompany the living, it produced strange images: the photographic plate became the medium itself, the magical object filled the void and revealed what was hidden to the profane.



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