Extrasensory abilities, or hoax? The University of Maryland has a retrospective on the work of Ted Serios, an alcoholic bellhop who, though intense concentration, could produce dreamlike “mind photos” using a Polaroid camera. The Chronicle of Higher Education is a believer:
Strange as it may seem, such “thought” photographs do exist, and a selection of them are on display in an exhibition through March 27 at the Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.
“Psychic Projections/Photographic Impressions: Paranormal Photographs from the Jule Eisenbud Collection on Ted Serios” features a series of images produced by Theodore Judd Serios (1918-2006), a bellhop from Chicago who appeared to possess a genuinely uncanny ability. By holding a Polaroid camera and focusing on the lens very intently, he was able to produce dreamlike pictures of his thoughts on the film; he referred to these images as “thoughtographs,” and many striking examples are on display in the exhibition. The images are contextualized by a selection of notes and letters written by Serios’s chief supporter, defender, champion, and sometime minder, a psychiatrist named Jule Eisenbud.
In this book, Eisenbud describes how he worked with Serios. Their method varied considerably, but it turned out that Serios was able to produce images using various kinds of cameras and in many different situations, sometimes under quite stringent test conditions. Most often, however, the two men would get no results at all. At other times they would get what Serios called “blackies,” in which the film would look as though it had not been exposed at all, or “whities,” in which the film would appear overexposed. In a few rare cases, however, bizarre images would emerge, perhaps in a fuzzy circle of light or a ghostly shape.