A short history of superimposition: From spirit photography to early cinema

  title={A short history of superimposition: From spirit photography to early cinema},
  author={Simone Natale},
  journal={Early Popular Visual Culture},
  pages={125 - 145}
  • Simone Natale
  • Published 21 March 2012
  • Art
  • Early Popular Visual Culture
As several scholars have noted, the use of superimposition effects in cinema to conjure such apparitions as ghosts, fairies, devils, and other fantastic creatures finds a significant precedent in spirit photography, a spiritualist practice by which the image of one or more spirits was ‘magically’ captured on a photographic plate. However, arguing for a relationship of direct filiation between spirit photography and the tricks employed in film remains problematic, especially given that spirit… 
Photographing a miraculous apparition in fin-de-siècle France
This paper is dedicated to the photographic coverage of the alleged miraculous apparitions, which occurred in the small French village of Tilly-sur-Seulles between 1896 and 1897. These photos,
Seeing through Spirits: Superimposition, Cognition, and The Phantom Carriage
ABSTRACT:Superimposition was long a popular technique for showing ghosts in films. Through the example of Victor Sjöström’s film Körkarlen (The Phantom Carriage, 1921), this article examines the
Seeing through Spirits: Superimposition, Cognition, and The Phantom Carriage
Superimposition was long a popular technique for showing ghosts in films. Through the example of Victor Sjöström’s film Körkarlen (The Phantom Carriage, 1921), the article will examine the technique
Creative Control: digital labour, superimposition, datafication, and the image of uncertainty
This paper will peruse a specific cinematic example of an uncertain-image, i.e. that of the film Creative Control, by situating the film against the backdrop of three different, yet interrelated, problematics related to the ubiquitous presence of digital imaging technologies.
The Cinema of Exposure: Spiritualist Exposés, Technology, and the Dispositif of Early Cinema
This article addresses the relationship between early cinema and the tradition of spiritualist exposes. The latter were spectacular shows performed by stage magicians in the nineteenth and early
The cinematic mode in twentieth-century fiction a comparative approach
This study deals with the influence of film form in fiction in terms of narrative discourse, focusing on issues of genre, narration, temporality, and the imitation of cinematic techniques. It
Contemporary Malaysian Horror: Relational Politics of Animism and James Lee’s Histeria
According to Malaysia’s former Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, local horror cinema is counterproductive to building a progressive society. While the genre is now at the peak of its
Ghosts of the City: A Spectrology of Cinematic Spaces
This paper investigates how, in early cinema, in-between spaces were created that were receptive to scenes of haunting. Adopting Derrida’s notions of a hauntology and a spectrology it argues for a
Clocks and Crime: Conceptions of Time in the Writings of Cesare Lombroso
  • P. Knepper
  • Psychology
    Crime, Histoire & Sociétés
  • 2018
This article outlines and interrogates six different conceptions of time embedded in Lombroso’s writings, arguing that research to date has underappreciated both the range and significance of the
Essaying from binary to complex system: the dialogue between film critics and filmmakers
This practice-led research project takes the form of a short essay film (11:45 minutes) and an accompanying exegesis (13 000 words), exploring the dialogue between filmmakers and film critics in


The Perfect Medium: Photography and the Occult
In the early days of photography, many believed and hoped that the camera would prove more efficient than the human eye in capturing the unseen. Spiritualists and animists of the nineteenth century
Photography and Spirit
Can film capture what our eyes can't see? There are many examples both historical and contemporary of photographs of spirits or ghosts. These images have been both derided as hoaxes or, at the other
Vanishing Women: Magic, Film, and Feminism
With the help of mirrors, trap doors, elevators, photographs, and film, women vanish and return in increasingly spectacular ways throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Karen Beckman
Performing illusions: cinema, special effects and the virtual actor
the distortion created by the absence of spatial markers. The third group of devices, the praxinoscope, phenakistoscope, and photography, explore the dialectic of motion and fixity. Much like the
The Haunted Gallery: Painting, Photography and Film c. 1900
Book synopsis: In the late nineteenth century, the development of a relatively new invention, the moving picture, dramatically changed visual culture. Films not only captured the public imagination,
to their religious faith. And yet elsewhere, in a video that simply and quickly explains the workings of natural selection, viewers see the “theory” in operation. But my guess is that the most potent
The Image of Truth: Photographic Evidence and the Power of Analogy
This article examines the origins and consequences of the rise of photographic evidence in the American courtroom in the second half of the nineteenth century. In addition to providing a history of
The medium on the stage: Trance and performance in nineteenth-century spiritualism
While historians of spiritualism have been eager to focus on its political and social implications, less attention has been given to the fact that spirit communication was also a matter of visual
To Scan a Ghost: The Ontology of Mediated Vision
his students into the night-side of Nature. Murnau intercuts Bulwer’s lecture with shots a film historian (and likely a contemporary viewer) would recognize as taken from (or closely patterned on)
Spiritualism exposed: scepticism, credulity and spectatorship in end-of-the-century America
In recent years, the study of spiritualism and occultism has been proposed as a key to understand the political, social and cultural issues of nineteenth-century America. While the position of