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Jakob von Narkiewicz-Jodko, “Effluvia from an Electrified Hand Resting on a Photographic Plate” (1896). Société Astronomique de France.
26 Mar. 2018 -
20:00 - 21:30
Spui 25
1012 WX Amsterdam
Free entrance

Picturing Aura Lecture by Jeremy Stolow at Spui 25

NIAS Fellow Jeremy Stolow will present his research at Spui 25, the academic-cultural centre located on Spui, Amsterdam’s literary square: a guide to this remarkable chapter in the history of photography: the history of efforts to photograph a mysterious radiant force that is said to surround living bodies and is known as ‘the aura’.

While dismissed as pseudo-scientific nonsense by the scientific mainstream, pictures of aura are embraced by a range of actors — fringe scientists, psychics, spiritual healers, occultists, and artists — as authentic representations of the state of human vitality and of the true nature of the cosmos.

As such, they are said to constitute visible evidence confirming descriptions of subtle bodies and supernatural energies that belong to long histories of religious cosmology and healing arts.

Picturing Aura is thus (among other things) a story about heterodox uses of the orthodox instruments of science — especially, but not only photographic apparatus — in ways that challenge modern science’s monopoly over its own technological infrastructure.

Professor Stolow’s lecture will offer a rough guide to this remarkable chapter in the history of photography, while at the same time drawing attention to some puzzling assumptions about media technologies as instruments of knowledge, and about how one is supposed to draw distinctions between the categories of science, medicine, religion, spirituality, and art.

About Spui25

Forum SPUI25 connects the academic world with the cultural sector in the broadest sense, as its events oscillate between science and imagination, fact and fiction. Almost daily, academics, writers, journalists, critics and creatives take the stage to discuss new findings in science and culture. At SPUI25, different perspectives intersect and produce new insights.


You can sign up for this program for free. For more information see the Spui 25 website.