Shadow Land or Light from the other Side - 3D B/W 16mm 32 minutes.
The title and the narrative are taken from the 1897 autobiography of Elizabeth d’Espérance, a materializing medium who could produce full body apparitions.
We discover a lonely little girl who can conjure imaginary friends that appear, to her, completely real. This remarkable ability causes her much suffering, for upon reaching adolescence, she is diagnosed as mad on account of seeing people who are not there. Only later does she find a way to cultivate her gifts within the spiritualist movement.
Here we get inside the experience of the medium as a kind of mental "projector" conjuring up specters that interact with the sitters at a seance. At the same time the film explores the psychological underpinnings of this psychic projection, founded on a deep ambivalence around the role of women. The female medium was considered an especially suitable conduit to the next world because of her "passive nature". Yet she produced phantoms that radically transgressed her Victorian upbringing through an extraordinarily exhibitionistic sexuality. The film shows how these phantoms can be seen as a kind of limit case of the virtual, a three dimensional representation of psychic reality and relates their production to another contemporary theatricalization of the unconscious, the performances of Charcot’s hysterics.
My on going project is an investigation into the relationship between imagination and technology. I have become increasingly fascinated with the whole problematic of the "virtual". For the better part of a hundred years, moving image have been conceptualized as "a window onto another world". However the 19th conceived of the virtual very differently. Ghost Shows, where actors interacted with projected magic lantern slides and stereoscopic views were enormously popular, opening up the cinematic spectacle to a third dimension that permitted virtual images to co-exist with real objects in space.
The film traces this complex interaction between the birth of cinema in relation to both conjuring and mediumship. My phantoms are drawn from magic lantern slides, glass negatives and early cinema footage. Indeed some of the scenes themselves are stereoscopic reconstructions of films from the 1890's.