From the artist:
In my previous body of work, Sehnsucht, I photographed in small, rural towns that triggered childhood memories. During that process I met and became fascinated with a woman named Kathy. She owns the diner in her town and lives on her husband’s family farm, which is haunted by his ancestors. Her belief in the spectral sparked my own interest in the unexplained and ties back to my ongoing curiosity about religion, spirituality and the human desire to believe that something else happens after we die and that a part of us–the spirit or soul–continues on.
The camera is a crucial tool for most paranormal investigators, so it was a natural step for me to become an amateur ghost hunter myself. Photography has been linked to the spirit world since the 1860s with the popularity of spirit photography and post-mortem portraits. Since its invention photography has lent a sense of immortality to its subjects. In recent years the paranormal has received amplified media attention through numerous 'reality' television programs that sensationalize any phenomena for the camera. On the contrary my approach is self-reflective and curious. To make the resulting images I have adopted both traditional and contemporary methods of capturing the invisible, as well as employed my own interpretation of the magical and mystical.
Book review by Dana Stirling |
Phantom Power is a new photo book by Barbara Diener, published by Daylight Books. Just by the cover, I was immediately drawn to this book. The book title is cut out and beneath there is a holographic pattern that makes the title jump out of the black dark cover, but also relates to the book’s subject matter.
Throughout the entire book the color black is a big part of the publication’s esthetics, from the cover to the title page, to the layout itself, the black element follows you along the journey. This makes the colorful and vibrant images feel as if they are jumping out of the book and they definitely set the mood for the overall experience.
As the text by Allison Grant in the beginning of the book states, Barbara used different visual and camera “tricks” to achieve many of her images. Photography is a key tool for the growth of super natural phenomena, like UFO’s or ghosts. The book tackles the notion that these “tricks” are easily explained by trained photographers, but for the common person, they are truth as photography has always taken the role of the absolute truth teller. This concept is interesting to consider when knowing that Barbara is indeed a trained photographer, a skilled artist who is “down grading” her methods to explore these types of visual affects. I think the end result is a blurred line between the amateur aspect of the work and the professional.
I found that each spread was a small story by itself within the larger narrative. Each composition and each visual feels that it is trying to tackle one part of this story from that perspective. If it is capturing a person, light, event or ghost hunt, each image stands alone as if it is a still from a moving image.
I think it is important to see that the work is both whimsical and serious at the same time. There is that aspect of play and “hunting” that comes out in many of the images where you feel the hands of the photographer and her manipulation of the scene, but this book is a real search and understanding of these beliefs and the people who are surrounded by them. This hybrid created a charming book that also makes you think about the real power of the photographic tool.
Please consider getting a copy of this book yourself by visiting the Daylight Books website here