Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Capturing the Super Natural


Lindisfarne Priory, Holy Island, Northumberland, England 

Just by chance, a couple of weeks ago, i came across a copy of photographer Simon Marden's  'A journey through haunted France' in a bargain book shop. The quality of the photography, sublimely haunting photographs that are dramatic, dark and often very grainy due to the frequent use of infra red film, and the ridiculously cheap price of the book made it a must have purchase.

It has to be said that I'm not really into the ghost and super natural stories contained within the book, however the superb quality of the black and white infra-red images more than make up for that. Marsden himself stated on his website that:-

“It is not my intention to try and convince you that ghosts exist, but rather to inspire you not to take everything around you at face value; to show that what we are conditioned to believe is 'reality' may not be quite all that it seems, if only we take the time to inquire".

I suppose the tales of super natural encounters no doubt nicely help sell the books. The idea of a 'ghosthunter' photographing a spectre of the super natural has captured the imagination of many, ever since photography began, although getting a ghost to sign a model release form is probably fraught with problems.

Marsden's images work though because they just portray the aesthetic of the super natural without actual having to show an actual ghost. Like the best horror movies, Marsden's images give a strong hint of the possibility of super natural activity, then let the viewer's 'dark and scary' imagination do the rest of the work.

Sadly Simon Marsden passed away in January of this year, but his archive of images and the many books he released will continue to influence new generations. I, for one, will certainly be buying more of his books.

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