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January 6, 2011
UMBC's Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery Presents Psychic Projections/Photographic Impressions: Paranormal Photographs from the Jule Eisenbud Collection on Ted Serios
January 26 - March 27, 2011
Contact: Thomas Moore
Director of Arts & Culture
This release is available as a pdf file.
The Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery presents Psychic Projections/Photographic Impressions: Paranormal Photographs from the Jule Eisenbud Collection on Ted Serios, opening on January 26th and continuing through March 27th.
On Thursday, February 3rd at 6 pm, Dr. Stephen E. Braude will present a public lecture on Serios's work.
For several years in the 1960s, psychiatrist Dr. Jule Eisenbud, a faculty member at the University of Denver, conducted experiments with Ted Serios, a Chicago man who possessed an apparent ability to place images from his mind onto Polaroid material using psychic energy. Over the course of these experimental sessions Serios produced a vast body of photographs, or "thoughtographs," that continue to baffle researchers and critics to this day.
Drawn from The Jule Eisenbud Collection of Ted Serios and Thoughtographic Photography in UMBC's Photography Collections, the approximately 100 photographic images in this exhibition illustrate Serios's paranormal abilities, reveal themes and unique characteristics of his thoughtographs, and offer insight into the extensive body of scientific experiments whose results have never been disproven.
The exhibition will be arranged chronologically with photographs grouped according to experimental session. This approach will reveal how the psychic images gradually developed and/or disappeared throughout a session and also how multiple subjects could emerge in a single experiment. Examining the thoughtographs as sets will also enable the visitor to understand the conditions and contexts under which the various images were obtained, such as instances in which Serios successfully produced paranormal results while in a Faraday Cage, while physically separated from the camera by a distance of several feet, or the many times he produced imagery of preselected, concealed "targets."
The majority of the items on display in the exhibition will be photographic materials, which fall into the category of either thoughtographs or straight photographs. A thoughtograph is the term used to describe any of Serios's photographs produced under unexplainable paranormal circumstances. Thoughtographs may include thoughtographs proper, or those which contain anomalous imagery, as well as whities, their counterparts, blackies, and normals. A whitie is a photographic print which emerges from development more or less completely white. Under normal circumstances, such a product would indicate that the film had been overexposed, or, exposed for an extended period of time or to a very strong light source. Whities are unexpected and unexplainable in instances where Serios had the lens pointing at himself, or where he had someone's hand covering the camera's lens--the approach used in both of these situations would actually decrease the amount of light entering the lens, vastly reducing the likelihood of overexposure. A blackie is a photographic print which appears entirely black. Under normal circumstances an entirely black film would indicate underexposure, or, not enough light entering the camera lens. Blackies are an anomaly in instances where ample light was allowed to enter the lens. Dozens of blackies were obtained with Serios at distances of several feet from the camera, and a number at distances of several miles (accomplished by having Serios cue investigators to trigger the shutter over the telephone). When a thought fails to be transferred onto a photograph, the resulting image typically features the blurry and contorted face of Serios or his out-of-focus surroundings. These unsuccessful thoughtographs are referred to as normals. Also on display in the exhibition are straight photographs, most often produced by investigators while experimental sessions were underway with the purpose of documenting events. A few photographs in which Serios has posed illustrate how he held the camera and/or the "gismo" (a small cylinder created from paper he would hold to the camera lens) while shooting. Other photographs on display are candid shots of Serios as he actively produces thoughtographs.
A number of additional objects will supplement the photographs on display, expanding visitors' understanding of specific experimental sessions, as well as the ongoing critical discourse pertaining to Serios and thoughtography. Some of these items are: the Polaroid Land Camera used by Serios in some of the experimental sessions; notes and drawings made by Serios in which he predicts the subject of thoughtographs he later produces; video of interviews with academics, scientists and medical professionals who witnessed various experimental sessions; and original correspondence between Eisenbud and The Amazing Randi, an illusionist who claimed to be able to replicate Serios's photographic output using sleight of hand (though Randi never followed through with his promises to demonstrate these claims under conditions comparable to those Serios faced).
Exhibition text (in the form of object labels, walls panels, and/or pamphlets) will provide a brief history of the occult in photography, concentrating on psychic photographers, or thoughtographers, who preceded Serios. Pertinent biographical information for Serios and Eisenbud will be presented, along with historical and contextual information regarding their experiments (for example: use of the gismo, experimental procedures, and controls). Narrative will also explore criticism, addressing both denial of the phenomena--including the opinion of the illusionist, The Amazing Randi--and arguments in defense of the experimental conditions and data.
The Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery serves as one of the principal art galleries in the Baltimore region. Objects from the Special Collections Department, as well as art and artifacts from all over the world, are displayed in challenging and informative exhibitions for the University community and the public. Moreover, traveling exhibitions are occasionally presented, and the Gallery sends some exhibits on tour to other institutions nationwide. Admission to the Gallery and its programs is free.
Mon/Tue/Wed/Fri: 12 pm – 4:30 pm
Thursday: 12 pm – 8 pm
Sat/Sun: 1 pm – 5 pm
Admission to the exhibition and lecture is free.
General Gallery information: 410-455-2270
Images for Media
High resolution images for media are available online:
UMBC is located approximately 10 minutes from downtown Baltimore and 20 minutes from I-495.
-- From Baltimore and points north, proceed south on I-95 to exit 47B. Take Route 166 toward Catonsville and then follow signs to the Walker Avenue Garage or Albin O. Kuhn Library.
-- From I-695, take Exit 12C (Wilkens Avenue) and continue one-half mile to the entrance of UMBC at the intersection of Wilkens Avenue and Hilltop Road. Turn left and follow signs to the Walker Avenue Garage or Albin O. Kuhn Library.
-- From Washington and points south, proceed north on I-95 to Exit 47B. Take Route 166 toward Catonsville and then follow signs to the Walker Avenue Garage or Albin O. Kuhn Library.
-- Daytime metered visitor parking is available in the Walker Avenue Garage. Visitor parking regulations are enforced on all University calendar days.
Posted by tmoore at January 6, 2011 4:30 PM