Fetch || An apparition that appears to observers at the instant of an individual’s passing.
Psychic Photography || The claimed ability to “burn” images from one's mind onto surfaces such as photographic film by psychic means. Also called projected thermography or thoughtography.
The concept of “the ghost in the machine” originally refers to philosopher Gilbert Ryle’s theory of the mind and body being separate, that the body is simply a machine being driven by a separate entity: one’s consciousness. However, the term has also come to signify the concept of an unknown force or consciousness occupying an inanimate object and contributing to strange, unpredictable occurrences that might happen within the mechanism. Many artists rely on this “ghost in the machine” in their practice, seeking to guide the uncontrollable phenomena toward an end goal or use the accidental outcomes of their experimentation as part of the artwork.
This concept became the guiding force for this piece after I began to notice strange and interesting images that resulted from my subpar developing techniques and from the Holga camera I used for much of the time (a notoriously unpredictable and poorly constructed camera that essentially forces the user to abandon any notions of getting consistent photographs). These images stirred my creativity and prompted me to meditate on what I was doing, and what I was seeking through them. I realized I was doing a kind of ghost hunting: of hunting the ghosts in the machine. Why had this “fetch” appeared to me? How had it manifested itself; through what kind of “spectrally projected thermography” had it made an appearance on my newly developed film? Photography is inherently a documentarian medium but I was not documenting people, I was documenting forces of a different kind. Even though I was not capturing actual ghosts per say, I was still asking a question of my work. Not what does this mean, but what can this mean? Applying these images to a new context of the intangible rather than the literal is essential to understanding them. In the same way as many other photographers through the history of the medium, I was elevating the subject matter through photographing it. But in this case I was capturing moments of a nature altogether new to me: a weird kind of ephemera in the form of ghostly messages that in all reality are just the manifestations of my incompetence with developing chemicals.
In the piece these “ghost images” are placed alongside nature and landscape photographs, to place them in an even greater context of what forces are revealing themselves. Not those of human influence, but those of universal themes and powerful, ancient phenomena that can never really be understood or harnessed but that can be seen and felt if one seeks them out. They are arranged in a way to move the viewer’s eyes around the composition, not necessarily focusing on any one but letting the atmosphere of the images wash over them.