Recording the Dead - Electronic Voice Phenomena

‘More than 30,000 people in more than 87 countries are members of electronic voice societies, who believe they can record the voices of the dead, and messages from the other side on normal analogue tape recorders. This has been around since the late fifties.

Two of the earliest believers in the ability of harnessing radio waves to contact the dead were the industrialists and scientific pioneers G. Marconi and Thomas Edison. Both of these respected inventors attempted to use early radio devices in contacting the other side.

Another famous example is the film maker Frederick Yergison- who when returning to the studio after recording bird song in a field claims to have recorded the voice of his dead mother..

Other adherents were George Meek, who designed a machine that he claimed allowed live two way communication with the dead ( it was based on modified radio waves) And William O’Neil who used this technology and appears on film footage’ having a conversation ’ with the other side. This particular set up was called the ‘spiricom’ by Meeks.

Where as most EVP, involves recording a tape then playing it back (sometimes backwards and at different speeds), equalising it and adding various sound treatment to decipher short phrases in a multitude of languages.
‘Spiricom’ claimed to allow two-way conversations with the dead in real time.
This was later discredited, as there is only very dodgy film footage of O’Neil talking to a machine with an early speech synthesiser.

However modern day adherents wish to create a website storing thousands of messages from the other side to allow us to log on and receive messages from deceased relatives and friends.

At on e point in the early seventies The Vatican got involved. Some of the believers in EVP were Catholic, and talking to the dead is expressly forbidden in The Old Testament,( Deuteronomy & Leviticus) and so were committing a sin. However, this crisis of faith was helped as the experiments were supported by Vatican officials, (and allegedly the pope), who saw it as a discovery that could benefit the faith.

The birth of spiritualism in the 19th century is seen as a reaction to the modern and industrial age, a withdrawal from the uncertainties of the alarming rate of progress into superstition and old beliefs.
However this was helped by the new technologies of the age, with photography claiming to provide visual evidence of the existence of ghosts, and radio waves being seen as a way of contacting the dead.

Janne Vanhanenis in ‘The aesthetics of interruption’ puts forward the following theory on the relationship between New technologies and spiritualism and empirical data. ’ Actual facts about these manifestations are not really important. The interesting thing is that every new medium seems to open up a new kind of outside, every new mode of perception leaving out, or even creating, something imperceptible, and on the other hand bringing out something that is previously out of reach. Eric Davis has named the outside boundary of electronic media as the ‘electromagnetic imaginary’, meaning that many animistic or alchemistic notions of essential energies and life spirits have been translated into the concept of electricity, and remaining in the technological unconsciousness’

With the emergence of digital technology, we are seeing a new wave such belief systems, a seemingly irrational response to an increasingly irrational world.

To see our previous projects relating to these ideas go to the archive page and look at Values for a New Age and Last Chance for a Slow Dance.

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