KIRLIAN PHOTOGRAPHIC DEVICE
Kirlian Photography is a process that uses electricity rather than light to make contact images on photographic media. It was pioneered by the Russian-born inventor Semyon Kirlian in 1939 and was a tremendous phenomenon of the time. The process works by illuminating the electrical field around an object, which is recorded as multicolored emanations by the photographic film or paper. Many fringe scientific researchers believe these images to reveal the “biofield” or “aura” of the subject, which they think gives physical form to the etheric body. Many believe the image to be linked to the “life force” that surrounds each living thing. Some even use it to make health care decisions, detect deceptions or seek answers from the great beyond. The most well-known pop culture example of a Kirlian Photograph is an image of a glowing hand featured in the opening title sequence for the television show “The X-Files.”
Fascinated by these ideas and photographic documents of the phenomenon, I embarked on my own journey by building a Kirlian Device. My device is handmade and channels 135 volts through a discharge plate to make an impression of an object placed on the plate. The device is intended as both a functional and sculptural object and also becomes an artist book structure with a special compartment containing bound collections of images. My Kirlian Device was created during the “Babel, Babble, Rabble: On Language and Art” group thematic residency at the Banff Centre in Alberta in the summer of 2006.
Kirlian Photographic Device (Exploded View), 2006, African Mahogany, Copper, & Electrical Components , 20" x 11" x 5"