Exhibit / October 27, 2016
Object Name: Electronic Voice Phenomena investigation
Maker and Year: Photographer Ted Dobson, 1973
Object Type: Photo
Image Source: “Into The Unknown,” by Reader’s Digest (1981)
Description: (Michael Grasso)
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the idea of contacting spirits and ghosts using the new technologies created in the fields of sound reproduction and transmission (telephone, phonograph, and wireless radio) grew out of the fertile ground of the Spiritualist movement. By the 1970s, the implications of instant playback of ethereal voices captured by consumer-grade magnetic tape recorders blew open the field of what became known as Electronic Voice Phenomena, or EVP. Konstantīns Raudive (1909-1974), who developed the standard EVP techniques and discussed them in Breakthrough: An Amazing Experiment in Electronic Communication with the Dead (published in English in 1971), inspired a generation of investigators in Europe. In this photo from 1973, Dutch EVP researchers Jos Spijkstra (left) and Hans Kennis (right) work with the then brand-new JVC 4RD-1405 quad-channel reel-to-reel recorder. Hans Kennis is still working on EVP research today and maintains a website (in Dutch) with detailed records from the history of the entire EVP movement.
6 thoughts on “Electronic Voice Phenomena Investigation, 1973”
For a deeper look at how technology and mediumship interacted in the Victorian era, I highly recommend Jill Galvan’s excellent The Sympathetic Medium: Feminine Channeling, the Occult, and Communication Technologies, 1859–1919:
This is so awesome! Its fascinating to see how the relationship between Spiritualism and technology evolved over the years. It seems like using the latest tech has dual benefits, first because it gives the illusion of scientific rigor, and second because people aren’t quite sure how it’s supposed to work yet!
I seem to remember in Conan-Doyle’s ‘The Land of Mists’ (basically Spiritualist propaganda featuring the characters from The Lost World. Written 1926), they use ‘Psychic Photography’, which involves placing buckets of zinc for spirits to trip into so that they ‘develop’, like a photograph. And strict darkroom conditions, naturally 😉
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