Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thought Photography

Professor Fukurai with psychic extra taken by William Hope in 1928
Thought Photography, or “thoughtography”, a term coined by Tomokicchi Fukarai, is a type of paranormal photography in which a living person psychically projects an image on a photographic plate or film. Usually a camera is used, however, many images have been imprinted directly on photographic film or paper, shielded from light in a black envelope, box or dark slide. This form of thought photography is called skotography.

Earliest Thouhgtography

Thoughtography started in the 1850’s, during the Spiritualist Movement with “spirit photography”, which became the novelty of the day. Today's parapsychologists believe that, even though there may have been a considerable amount of deception during a séance by the photographer, many of the images were revealed to have been planted in the medium’s mind. These extra images in many photographs may have been telepathically imprinted and captured on film.
With the invention of X-Ray Photography in 1896, many saw the scientific legitimacy of thoughtography, and experimented with trying to capture their thoughts, feelings, and dreams on film. Commandant Darget, a French Army officer in the 1890’s, was successful in attempting to transfer thoughts and images of a brandy bottle on to a photographic plate. Dr. Baraduc experimented with skotography in France in 1896. His subjects were given photographic plates in black envelopes, to hold in their hands and asked to concentrate images upon them. Many pictures were seen on these plates after developing them.

Experimentation in the Twentieth Century

Experiments increased in the 1900’s, by individuals such as Japanese Tomokichi Fukurai and Masuaki Kiyota, Americans Ted Serios and Michaela Kelly, and Israeli psychic Uri Geller. Under stricter conditions, the paranormal community witnessed the claims of thoughtography, which were proven to be fabricated or remain, to this day, a mystery.

Tomokichi Fukurai
In the early 1900’s, Fukurai, an assistant professor of psychology at Tokyo University and President of the Psychical Institute of Japan, worked to prove his theories regarding nensha(spirit photography). In 1913, Fukurai worked with a woman named Sadako Takahashi, who claimed to have developed both clairvoyance and thought photography through breathing and mental exercises. When asked to imprint particular Japanese symbols on unexposed photographic plates using only her mind, the woman consistently succeeded imprinting the target. In 1928, he visited, William Hope, a famous medium photographer, with the hope of proving or disproving his psychic talent. He removed the possibility of “slight-of-hand”, by signing each plate beforehand, and had his assistant standing beside Hope the whole time. Fukurai claimed that the photographs produced were genuine.

Ted Serios
In the 1960’s, Serios became notorious for the production of thought photography on Polaroid film. Dr. Jule Eisenbud, a psychiatrist and parapsychologist, described his experiments with Serios. He supposedly used only psychic powers while in a drunken (and often enraged) state. Serios' thought photographs were recognizable pictures of people, cars and buildings. He was able to produce his photographs while holding a tube, which he called his “gismo”, from the camera lens to his forehead.
Serio’s talent has been greatly refuted. Parapsychologist, Dr. Pratt, at the University of Virginia, planned a series of month-long experiments. Serios, who was highly unreliable and constantly intoxicated, left, refusing to continue under strict conditions. Serios claimed he needed his tube to help him concentrate and project the mental images, but several people noticed him slipping something into the tube to create the images. It is believed that the tube contained a novelty gadget, popular at the time, which when held up to the eye, would show an image. Many attributed his drunken fits and outbursts to only being disturbing distractions, while he worked his occasional “sleight of hand” into supposed thought or psychic photographs. Serios would place the small transparency of an image into the gadget of the tube. Holding the tube up to a Polaroid camera lens, made a photograph of the image. Using a digital camera and a similar gadget in a tube, investigators have been able to reproduce the same results.

Masuaki Kiyota
In the 1970’s, the Japanese Nengraphy Association (nengraphy being the Japanese name for thoughtography) conducted experiments with the Japanese teenage psychic wonder, Masuaki Kiyota. He proved to have the ability to transmit images on to unexposed film under strict scientific conditions. Dr. Walter Uphoff supervised a series of experiments with Kiyota under laboratory conditions in Tokyo, as well as in the United States for a special NBC-TV program on the paranormal. He was able to produce photographs of a nearby hotel and other images using a Polaroid camera, even though it was placed on a table across from him with its’ lens cap on, and the shutter release never touched. 
Michaela Kelly
Parapsychologist, D. Scott Rogo, witnessed and wrote an account of an unexpected skotograph. While hypnotized, Michaela Kelly’s hand was placed on a piece of enlarging paper. The result was a photograph of a cartoonish picture of an aged female face in a shawl with the letters N A D printed on it. When re-awakened, Kelly stated that even though she didn’t remember thinking of the aged woman, she identified her as a past housekeeper named Naddie who always wore a shawl.
Uri Geller
In the 1990’s, Uri Geller began to perform thought photography by using a 35mm camera with the lens cap affixed. He would reportedly then take photos of his forehead. When the photographs were developed, Uri claimed that the images had come directly from his mind. Lawrence Fried, President of the Society of Media Photographers investigated Geller’s claim. To ensure there would be no trickery, he secured the lens cap with 2-inch cloth-like tape around his own camera lens. Geller pointed Fried’s camera towards his head and pressed the shutter. Even though no light could have reached the film, the resulting photograph, even though blurred, was unmistakably a photograph of Geller.
During an interview by news reporters, Roy Stockdill and Michael Brennan, in Miami Beach at the Eden Roc Hotel, Geller revealed his talent once more. Using Brennan’s Nikon camera, with its’ locked lens cap and pointed at his face, rapidly exposed several rolls of film. Two of the films were blank, however, two photos on the third roll were distinct pictures of Geller.

From Wikipedia:

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