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Haunted Air Hardcover – June 6, 2011
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"The emotional triggers of these moments in time have only become more subtle and complex with age." — GeekTyrant.com
"bewitching collection of found American Halloween photographs from 1875-1955." —VMAN Magazine
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This is a macabre art book... "found art" created by anonymous people of past times, the art being both in the documentary nature of the unprofessional imperfect snapshots made on black and white film using not the greatest cameras (but not "bad" either, just off enough to enhance the sense of mystery), and more especially in the "Otherness" created by the subjects of the snapshots.
Originally the snapshots were taken by friends or family of people in costume, at a time when most Halloween costumes were homemade, and Halloween was still a time to look weird and scary, and wasn't so associated with store-bought cross-marketed super-hero or princess dress-up." The photos are here presented simply, unaltered, without explanatory text beyond the the preface and introductory notes. It is this presentation that helps them to take on a mysterious, even scary, power. The pictures are helped along if the viewer possesses a "what's happening in the shadows" sort of imagination, and the possible contexts provided by the viewer can add real value to this collection. I don't even like to think "Halloween" when I see these old photos. I rather look at them as a window through which one can see, and imagine, a context or story or just a feeling, of something very strange, something I don't want to know about but can't look away from.. It gives me the same sort of vibe that the first season of True Detective sometimes delivered with its odd byways briefly pointed to, but left undeveloped and unexplained, something potentially horrifying because of the lack of investigation and resolution, and also of the short fiction of Thomas Ligotti... precisely because the "reveal" isn't given and enough space and ambiguity is provided to allow mysterious possibilities to hang and fester in a darker closet within the viewer's imagination, which, depending on the viewer, is an always potentially darker place than any media can reveal and explain.
Anyway, it isn't a book about Halloween, the history of Halloween, a mere scrapbook, or not only these things... The homemade costumes are, outside of the Halloween context, or even within it, outright spooky, and they are presented in an uncluttered and simple way so that each image can open up a mystery for the imagination to create possible narratives for, and the imagination doesn't even need words to open up possible worlds suggested by the photos. Simply spend some time with one photo, and forget Halloween, and let your mind be guided to possible other frightening or strange places and possibilities. Also, check out Cyclobe, one of the central musical projects of Ossian Brown. That music goes very well with these photos, and hearing what Brown does with music (or part of what he does, as his involvement in music and other creative pursuits is diverse) gives one a better understanding of why this collection exists and is presented in this manner... not necessary, but does add some insight into Mr. Brown's proclivities. David Lynch's contribution is minimal, but I can certain understand why he would love these pictures.
Highly recommended for any who know of and enjoy the work of any of the names I've dropped here.
The foreword by David Lynch is a perfect preface to flipping through this book is very emotive and slightly mysterious, i can hear him speaking it in his nasal voice. The photos are from the collection of Ossian Brown, best known as one of the full time musicians in Coil. His hobby in collecting and presenting these photos seems to have been meticulous.
Some of the photos are masterworks of amateur photography, and some poorly shot and out of focus, but all with a sort of out-of-time sense of the macabre that will appeal to vintage photo collectors and fans of Halloween alike. The photos are mostly of children, which adds an air of innocence and playfulness to the eeriness.
takes you back. It will be my reference for many days to come. I love it.