What is an ‘aura’? On what basis can such a phenomenon be photographed? How ought we to interpret pictures purporting to produce visible evidence of auras? Do such pictures challenge our deeply held assumptions about religion and science as competing modes of knowing and acting in the world?
This project explores the history of efforts to photograph ‘the aura’ – a normally invisible vital energy radiating from the body – and the lives of such pictures in psychic research, alternative medicine, the New Age spiritual marketplace, and larger arenas of mass media and popular culture. Drawing upon media archaeology, science studies, religious studies, and visual culture studies, the project traces roughly 120 years of aura-imaging technologies and practices, their global circulation, and their relationships with sanctioned techniques of scientific visualization, on the one hand, and traditions of clairvoyant perception, on the other. This project will document a remarkable transnational history of non-orthodox uses of visual media, while also intervening in ongoing theoretical debates about religion, techno-science, and visual culture in our contemporary, ‘post-secular’ modernity.
Jeremy Stolow. ‘Mediumnic Lights, Xx-Rays, and the Spirit Who Photographed Herself’, Critical Inquiry, vol.42 , no.4, Summer 2016, pp. 923-951.
Jeremy Stolow (ed.). Deus in Machina: Religion, Technology, and the Things in Between, Fordham University Press, New York, 2013.
Jeremy Stolow. Orthodox By Design: Judaism, Print Politics, and the ArtScroll Revolution, University of California Press, Berkeley, 2010.