Tag Archives | Shannon Taggart

Two Talks on Parapsychology from George Hansen, Author of The Trickster and the Paranormal

Photographer Shannon Taggart and Liminal Analytics: Applied Research Collaborative recently hosted George Hansen, author of the seminal Trickster and the Paranormal, for a series of talks at the Observatory in Brooklyn, NY. For those who were unable to attend in person, the talks are now available on Youtube!

Hansen offers a succinct appraisal of the history of psychical inquiry, as well as an analysis of the decline of professional parapsychology over the past few decades. His insights into the social factors that attend anomalous phenomena provide an interesting avenue for understanding this area of experience that goes beyond black and white questions of proof, and into a more complex and inclusive vision of what happens when things drift into the unstable realms of weirdness.

A History of Parapsychology and Psychical Research

Continue Reading

The Trickster Comes to NYC – George Hansen at the Observatory

George Hansen - Trickster and the ParanormalMy friend George Hansen has a pretty succinct biography:

George P. Hansen was professionally employed in parapsychology laboratories for eight years—three at the Rhine Research Center in Durham, North Carolina, and five at Psychophysical Research Laboratories in Princeton, New Jersey. His experiments included remote viewing, card guessing, ganzfeld, electronic random number generators, séance phenomena, and ghosts. He has been active in a number of psychic, UFO, and New Age organizations, and he helped found a skeptics group.

His papers in scientific journals cover mathematical statistics, fraud and deception, the skeptics movement, conjurors in parapsychology, and exposés of hoaxes. He is a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.

Reading all that you’re given no clues to the fact that his book The Trickster and the Paranormal offers one of the most detailed examinations of the psycho-social factors of anomalous experiences written in the 20th century. That little bit about “his experiments included…” actually means he has spent the last few decades doing ethnographic immersion in the entire field of psychical and anomalous research.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Embalming Time – The Photography of Invisible Things

It is an egregious,  unavoidable fact that much of the material evidence for unexplained experience is the result of easily explained technical glitches, intentionally or unintentionally invoked. Apparitional double exposures, pollen produced orbs, apophenial faces, and other replicable effects mar the minds of seekers and skeptics confronted with photographs, and other forms of ostensibly objective proof, said to contain traces of some transcendent order of nature.

The latest episode of The Midnight Archive, an award winning documentary series from film maker Ronni Thomas, features an interview with photographer Shannon Taggart  who takes this fact as given, and, moving beyond questions of real or unreal, uses it to capture a more narrative experience of the event. In the interview she discusses her art, and the broader history of Spiritualist spirit photography, in the process providing an alternative approach to understanding these areas of experience that steps past questions of proof:

As an artist and photojournalist Taggart is able to eschew issues of authenticity, in order to embrace the psychological and storytelling aspects of the event.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Vodou in NYC

Mambo Carmen becomes possessed by the Loa Klemezin. Shannon Taggart, 2010.

Often relegated to tabloid news coverage, the Afro-Caribbean religions, such as Santeria, Palo Mayombe, Palo Monte, and Vodoun, are some of the most beautiful and complex spiritual paths that can be found in the world. They have been forged in the sorrow, pain and violence of our colonial history, tempered with the hopes and joys that can only come from true perseverance.  It’s unfortunate that when we hear about them their beauty is usually obscured by patronizing, inept journalism, or, more frequently, by fear mongering, thinly veiled racism.

Maya Deren’s seminal work, The Divine Horsemen, was my first encounter with the depth of the Haitian tradition of Vodoun, and I’ll never forget how it changed my view of  life.  More recently I’ve enjoyed the work of Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold, an anthropologist,  Palero, and Vodoun initiate, whose works on Quimbanda and Palo Mayombe are published by Scarlet Imprint.… Read the rest

Continue Reading