Seeing Things : ghost polaroids
October 26 - November 2, 2013
On Friday, February 5, 1993, the Fox TV reality show SIGHTINGS examined
what may be a landmark discovery in parapsychology: convincing evidence
that ghosts exist and can actually communicate with us. Two residents
of an old house in the hills of Los Angeles began receiving ghostly messages
in Polaroid photographs. The pair started taking photos inside the house
in the hope of obtaining a picture of the entity they believed haunted
After first capturing a ghostly image on film, the men discovered that
if they asked questions about the entity and why it was inhabiting their
house, words and messages appeared in response on their film. So far,
more than 1000 photos have captured messages – photos taken not
only by the residents but by paranormal researchers and other outsiders.
A photographic expert at Polaroid has no explanation for the messages.
An expert at California’s Brooks Institute of Photography can suggest
an explanation, but it requires a lengthy set up process and hours of
The ghost or spirit calls himself “WRIGHT”. He shows
signs of erudition and intelligence, writing many of his messages in Latin.
The ghost first appeared on film in March 1992 after one of the residents
kept hearing unexplained noises throughout the house. After a door opened
mysteriously, he took a series of photos, several of which revealed a
classic ghost-like shape, including dark shadows at the eyes and mouth.
The messages began to appear on film in June 1992. The first was in response
to a friend’s question about the ghost, “Is he here now?”
The photo revealed a barely discernible “yes” in cloudy white
shapes. After that, the writing became far more legible.
They were skeptical at first, suspecting a bizarre prank by the film’s
manufacturer or local distributor or some other technological trickery,
such as projected holograms or shaving cream sprayed on cellophone. The
paranormal research teams, similarly skeptical, used their own cameras
and their own film to take photos in the house. Their photos also yielded
answers to specific psychics, visiting independently of each other, agreed
that not only this spirit but three others reside inside the house. Polaroid
Corp. representative, Howard Wurtzel, examined the photographs and could
find no physical evidence of tampering. His only explanation for the writing
was that it was some form of radiation created by a high energy field.
Renowned spiritualist and psychic Peter James was called in to explore
this phenomenon, in addition to three other psychics who also lent their
insight to this investigation. James visited the house numerous times
and believes that it is situated on the grounds of an ancient ritual site
and that spirits are definitely trying to communicate with the living.
...As he walked around the house, Peter James stopped in one spot
he called a "spiritual vortex," a kind of doorway through which
he felt spirits were entering the house. "I feel a very strong vibration.
Something is definitely coming up from the floor," he reported. "I
get a tingling sensation. It's also very cold here. My legs are trembling.
It feels like something is coming from below and it's going through my
entire body." Then someone snapped several polaroids of Peter standing
in the vortex. In the photos, strange ghostly images appeared to surround
SEEING THINGS: Ghost Polaroids
Third Ed. Softcover 10.75"x 8.25" 56 pgs
Most of the photographs on display were taken before Photoshop, digital
imaging and cell phone cameras changed photography. Each Polaroid is original
and unique. They show familiar rooms with wispy, feathery tendrils and
misty tufts of white substances and, amazingly, cloud-like writing. Even
more extraordinary is the relevance of the words to whatever questions
had been asked. Usually a response came in English, but sometimes it appeared
in Latin. For example, after questioning the identity of the answering
spirit, a response came in Latin; “Et alla Corpus delicti,”
(among other things, a murder victim). The words floating in midair were
invisible when the photo was taken.
Seeing Things explores the boundary between the known and the unknown.
It asks whether something as simple and functional as photographs of record
— people at a party, an empty room, an open door — can be
a gateway to something more.
These startling photographs challenge perceptions of reality and art.
Is the image of the room with the ghostly writing the way we see ghosts,
or is it the way ghosts see us? Who is seeing things, after all? Come
explore these strangely surreal photographs and decide for yourself.