Hostings 7 – Manifesting Ghosts

Hostings 7: Presence – Manifesting Ghosts
Hostings 7 gave an insight into how both technology and the human body are conceptualized as a medium for invoking an otherworldly presence. Here too, the roles of scepticism, belief and faith within research were confronted.

Hollington & Kyprianou (artists), Technology & the Uncanny
Jack Hunter (anthropologist), 
Expressions of Spirithood
John Sabol (archaeologist), The Forgotten Soldier: Manifestations of the Continuing Presence of Colonel William Holmes (1862-2011)

Date: March 14th 2012, 6.30pm – 9.00pm, 2012

An evening of interdisciplinary talks and presentations exploring the desire to materialise what is absent through the medium of haunted landscapes.

Venue: The Court Room, First Floor, Senate House South Block, University of London

(An apparition known as ‘The Blue Lady’ has been reported to haunt the adjoining Senate room)

This is a free event but places are limited so please email: to reserve your seats

Hollington & Kyprianou –Technology & the Uncanny, LCC – EVA, London

Far from empirical science and technological progress dampening the enthusiasm for magical or spiritual readings, the use and improvement of technology trades on the same sense of awe and the uncanny previously provided by mystical phenomena. The symbiotic relationship between technology and the uncanny is not only one of a shared notion of the sublime, but also one of appropriation.

This paper will discuss the relationship between technology and the uncanny through historical and contemporary examples as well as referencing our own collaborative artist practice.

Hollington and Kyprianou are London based artists who have been collaborating for over ten years.

Their work investigates how competing representations of science and politics shape the boundaries of debate and the locus of the rational. Their materials are drawn from archives of primary objects, scenarios from film and mainstream culture, oral history, interviews and hearsay to create new narrative spaces that are simultaneously funny and un-nerving. Their work as been shown widely in the UK including Tate Modern and ICA London and internationally at The 51st Venice Biennale, as well as in Europe, North and South America and Australia.

Their latest project, a time travel murder mystery can be seen here:

Jack HunterExpressions of Spirithood

The body is the primary tool for the expression of personality. It is our interface with the physical world and our everyday means of communicating with each other, both verbally and non-verbally. The way in which we use our bodies, therefore, is of key importance to the way we are perceived as individual personalities. In trance mediumship, and spirit possession, practices the human body is used for the expression of multiple personalities and non-physical entities. This paper will explore the differing ways in which the human body is utilised as a means for the expression of spirits in a variety of different cultural contexts, from the ecstatic dancing of Afro-Brazilian Candomble mediums to the relatively static demonstrations of Euro-American trance mediums. It will explore the different methods employed by mediums to signify the presence of spirits and will examine the role of performance in making the spirit world tangible. These techniques will be contrasted with the methods of contemporary ghost hunters (i.e. the use of electronic equipment to infer the presence of spirits), and will address the similarities and differences in the ways in which the presence of spirits is recognised during trance demonstrations and modern ghost hunts. All of this will be presented with the aim of furthering our understanding of the nature of spirits and their culturally specified modes of expression in the physical world.

Jack Hunter is a PhD student in Social Anthropology at the University of Bristol, UK. His research looks at contemporary trance mediumship in Bristol, and focusses on themes of personhood, personality, altered states of consciousness and anomalous experience. He is the founder and editor of “Paranthropology: Journal of Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal.” In 2010 he received the Eileen J. Garrett scholarship from the Parapsychology Foundation, and in 2011 was awarded the Gertrude Schmeidler award by the Parapsychological Association.

John Sabol – The Forgotten Soldier: Manifestations of the Continuing Presence of Colonel William Holmes (1862-2011)

What occurs at a location perceived to be haunted, who continues to manifest years, even centuries, after physical death and why? Avery Gordon, in her book Ghostly Matters (1996), states that the ghost is a social figure, and one who manifests as one form by which something lost or forgotten makes itself known. A haunting, according to Gordon, is a very particular way of knowing what has happened and what continues.. So much has already been lost, forgotten or destroyed in the accelerated pace of contemporary life and technological advancement. Yet, it is this same technology that may write that forgotten history and tell, with voices echoing from the past, individual ghost stories.

The battle of Antietam, September 17th 1862, was the single bloodiest day of combat in American History. Colonel William Holmes of the 2nd Georgia became the last soldier to die in combat here at Burnside Bridge. Holmes’ story had become lost to history and his burial site near the bridge was undiscovered until our “ghost excavations” there in 2010/2011. Through contextual scenarios, enacted by our female investigators and RT-EVP audio recordings, the postscript to his death emerges as auditory manifestations of a plea to “go home” to Georgia and be properly buried. His voiced responses haunt us still today, 150 years after his remains were lost to history.

John Sabol is an archaeologist, cultural anthropologist, actor, and “ghost excavator”. He has a M.A. in Anthropology/archaeology (University of Tennessee), and a B.A. in Sociology/Anthropology (Bloomsburg University). As an archaeologist, he has worked on excavations and site surveys in England, Mexico, and at various sites in the United States. His anthropological fieldwork includes the studies of “ghosts” and native religious beliefs in the afterlife among various groups in Mexico . His acting career includes “ghosting” performances of various characters and scenarios in more than 35 movies, TV shows, and documentaries. He has conducted “ghost excavations” (an archaeological-ethnographic-theatrical approach embodied in the P.O.P. Theory) in the USA and Europe. He has appeared in the A&E TV series, Paranormal State as an investigative consultant. Publications include, Ghost Excavator (2007), Ghost Culture (2007), Digging Up Ghosts (2011), and the Haunted Theatre (2011).