These portraits are made with an aura camera — a modified Polaroid camera developed by an American scientist in an attempt to record what a psychic might see. This project explores the idea that a portrait photograph can reveal an otherwise unseen and accurate insight into the subject’s character, and their interaction with the photographer.
The subject is connected directly to the camera by hand-plates that measure biofeedback, which the camera depicts as an aura of color in the Polaroid and translates into a printed diagram and description explaining the camera’s interpretation of the subject. It also explains separately, what the the subject is expressing and how they are seen by others, such as the photographer, suggesting the camera bypasses the control of the photographer and subject in making the portrait. This printout, which includes information about the subjects emotions, potential, aspirations, future, etc. is presented to the viewer along with each photograph in a similar manner to a caption.
The aura camera has undertones of pseudo-scientific authority and attributes associated with a less mediated type of photography. It’s a modified land camera that uses instant film and has only one button, allowing the photographer little control over the mechanisms mediating the portrait making process.
Aura photography is a relatively recent offshoot of spirit photography. Unlike attempts to record images of ghosts, aura photography evolved from a type of spirit photography – popular around the time diagnostic imaging devices like the x-ray emerged — which sought to objectively measure and document unseen aspects of the human body.
Om sin serie Orb skriver Van de Roer:
The term “orb” is typically used to describe circular artifacts in photographs—artifacts which have been interpreted by some as spirits. Despite being debunked and explained (most commonly as backscatter from precipitation or dust), there’s a surprisingly widespread belief that orb photographs document the supernatural. There are organizations, conferences, hunts, field experts, detectors and websites dedicated to spiritualist orb photography. This photographic search for something larger than ourselves was the starting point for this project. I photographed people in landscapes that are partly obscured by precipitation. The subjects are seen searching for or interacting with orbs, which are represented as dots covering parts of the scene, presenting the image as a constructed object.