Thursday 5th September

‘Luminations: An Evening of Esoteric Photography’
7pm, Swedenborg House, 20-21 Bloomsbury Way, WC1A 2TH (map)


From the heyday of Victorian spiritualism to the darkest hours of the Cold War, tonight’s presentations look at two of the more unusual directions taken by photographers and their chosen medium.

Kirlian photography - fingertips

Alex Murray, Assistant Librarian and Archivist at Swedenborg House, will present a selection of unique, nineteenth century spiritualist images, texts, and artefacts from Swedenborg House’s Wilkinson Collection.

The Spiritualists of the 19th century often cited Emanuel Swedenborg as a particular point of interest to the movement. This was not always to the liking of the Swedenborg Society or the wider Swedenborgian community either. In this talk, Murray will look at the relationship between the two communities before focusing on one of the more prolific members of the Swedenborg Society, James John Garth Wilkinson. In particular we will be looking at Wilkinson’s implementation of Spiritualist techniques and practises as a way to explore his own faith and as a tool to better himself and society at large. This will be accompanied by a selection of objects and writings from the Society’s holdings.

Mark Pilkington, author of Mirage MenFar Out, and Strange Attractor overlord, will talk about the history of Kirlian photography and its role in US and Soviet espionage at the height of the Cold War.

Artist Alison Gill (London, UK) and photographer/independent researcher Shannon Taggart (Brooklyn, USA) will discuss the role of Kirlian photographic techniques in their own work, followed by a workshop demonstration during which Shannon will give everyone a chance to have their hands photographed.

This event is free but you must book a place if you wish to attend. Please click here to do so.