& Artur Żmijewski
James Lee Byars
& Fabio Balducci
Center for Tactical Magic
Untitled Aura Photograph (Tomma Abts), 2002
ANNE COLLIER (b. 1970 Los Angeles, CA) lives and works in New York. She was included in both Greater New York at P.S.1/MoMA (2005) and the 2006 Whitney Biennial. Collier has had solo exhibitions with Jack Hanley in San Francisco, Mark Foxx in Los Angeles and Corvi-Mora in London, and will be showing at Presentation House, Vancouver next year.
Untitled (Aura Photographs)
These images were produced during a very specific period between
2002 and 2004. They are portraits of artist-friends who were,
for the most part, visiting the Bay Area in Northern California
– where I was living at the time.
Aura Photographs are photographic images taken with a
modified Polaroid camera that its ‘creators’ claim can record
the sitter’s spiritual energy (or ‘aura’.) Aura Photographic
equipment is sold to New Age and Spiritualist stores with
the promise that it represents an “exceptional business
opportunity for the New Age.” All of the photographs were
taken at a downtown Oakland psychic store. Each photographic
session cost $15. The sitter was positioned directly in front
of the camera with their hands resting on metal ‘sensors’
that were connected to both the camera and a nearby computer.
Each image is accompanied by a multi-page computer printout
that purports to ‘explain’ the chromatic effects visible in
Aura Photography claims for itself an ability to record
and depict that which remains beyond perception: i.e. human
spiritual energy. Outside of their obvious relationship to
‘New Age’ spirituality (a tendency commonly associated with the
West Coast,) the images also make a sideways reference to the
nineteenth century attempts to record - through photography -
the paranormal. As with Victorian images that claimed to depict
psychic occurrences - such as the appearance of spirits or
ghosts - Aura Photography is a quasi-science: it makes specific
claims for the photographic image that cannot be objectively
I am not the only artist to have been intrigued by
aura photography. (Both Peter Coffin and Sylvie Fleury’s
independent ‘aura’ works come immediately to mind.) In Aura
Photography an image is simultaneously created and assessed.
The ‘aesthetic’ properties of each image are of little
interest to advocates of Aura Photography - outside of what
the image supposedly ‘reveals’ about its subject. Yet the
curious coloration and abstract pictorial effects are, in-
and-of themselves, clearly worthy of further consideration.
- Anne Collier, New York, 2006.