Star Tribune from Minneapolis, Minnesota on March 17, 1929 · Page 71
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Star Tribune from Minneapolis, Minnesota · Page 71

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Issue Date:
Sunday, March 17, 1929
Page 71
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I'll 111 OTT M)udns Muskrious Gr DekcfVi welations About Trumpet Tricksters, Spirit )hy, Cabinet Hoaxes, Ordinations and Wraiths, Told by the Wily Young Was the Master Magician's leuth: In This Chapter I Cameras Dupe the Including Conan w rasctnanng Facts About Ectoplasm 9 3 kf$'mf Iff 1 ',"1 - - ' iff s ij f"J (Fi V' J- . -TT, 5, ISM? 1 W 4 i 'A i litt i -; iXl'r k F' ,dt nifti . .. it1 & ml JPp h 19k I v , x w n,v x "DOPPELGANGER" Houdini's Photo of Himself Kneeling at the Feet of Hi Own "Wraith. ICIad in Ghostly Robes. This Picture nil Deen teciarea dv camera ex perts to be "the finest example of 'spirit photography ever made." This is today an exploded theory, et as recently as 1908, the city oroner of Alton, Illinois, photo raphed the eyes of a slain woman nd produced a negative that showed he features of an evil-looking, aearded man. How it happened 1 ion't know. It was probably a reak of the lens or some peculiarly in the retina or cornea of the lead woman. A year later, along came Professor Hippolyte Baraduc, a French, scientific- investigator, who, in addi-ion to snapshooting such intangible things as "prayer, sorrow and inger," took a remarkable death-)ed picture of a girl named Nadine, showing filmy emanations from her jtill figure and crisp electric flashes riovering over the bed. I The simplest method of getting "spirit photo graphs is, of course, the ancient device ot covering one-half of the lens with cardboard or bloth , "shooting" the exposed half ; then revers- ng the process with the cardboard and "shoot-ng" the other half. Nor is the expedient Of dou ble printing one to baffle the amateur photog rapher, 1. personally, have had some amusing expert- bnces in exDosinu such frauds. A friend sent me k photo from Kobe, Japan, of a man, in the flesh, Y CM ' I; 1 I wvwmm 1,',, 7" 1 vlU DISGUISED Miss Mackenberg, with Shoulders Adrpitly Bent and a Convincing Expression of Naivete, Simulating the Appearance of a Credulous Small Town Widow. She Often Donned This Garb to Consult Spiritualists in the Quest of Her "Dead Husband" She Is Unmarried. "Since most women visit spiritualists because of anguished bereavements, it is generally safe to assume that the applicant has lost a husband or lover. F rom the hidden trap, the assistant manipulates a switchboard, and the figure of a man, with featureless face, appears behind the medium's head on the sensitised screen, while she writhes and groans in trance-like, galvanic tmtchings. seated beside what looked like a woman in translucent white draperies. The effect was good, but my friend was astonished when I pointed out that the "spirit" was lighted from the right; the living man from the left. There is still another way of getting misty illusions on a foil of film, which is to puncture the camera with a sharp needle ; then arrange your "subject" and "shoot" him. If there is anyone standing within range of the needle-puncture, you will find that person's misty image it may be only an opaque blur vaguely resembling a human being lurking on the negative when it is developed. People like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are too apt to forget that chemistry can play a vital part in effecting "spirit photos." If, for instance, you put a flask of uranium nitrate'" near a packet of plates, the strength of the radiations will permeate the package and mark the plates. The same is true if you put a coin and a pulverized gas mantle near a carefully wrapped plate. The shape of the coin will invariably be reproduced on the plate. The variations on this facile, but effective, trick are innumerable. I have referred only briefly in this chapter to ectoplastic photography, for one thing because the practitioners of this sort of trickery are subtle and wily as contrasted with their cruder brethren, and also because while a great deal is known to biologists and pathologists about ectoplasm, a perfectly good scientific definition of the outer layer of a cell, the dictionaries are commendably coy about defining ectoplasy, a term meaning "to mould from without." The word can be used in reference to any sort of materialization, but is generally employed by spiritualists to mean a cloudy, gauzy substance ejected from the mouth and then slowly withdrawn, a kind of. ghost tissue that either represents the medium's visible contact with another world like a psychic telegraph wire or the actual presence of the person who has been summoned. The most skillful mediums have been, with luck, on occasion able to make this veil-like thing assume the vague proportions of a human figure, such as the celebrated Mme. Bisson. Actually the ectoplastic substance that you see descending from the medium's mouth in most cases is one of two things either the finely shredded or crumpled membrane of some animal's lung (probably a sheep), or chiffon, so treated and doctored as to appear "spiritual." The membrane or chiffon is wadded tightly into .r -V-,l'.MS'Y.v -.yo ' INVESTIGATOR Rose Mackenberg, Houdini's Ace Detective, as She Looks Minus Disguises. Observe the Sharp, Unwavering Gaze and the Firm Chin Characteristic of All Skilled Sleuths. the cheek of the medium, who, while she writhes in an apparently mystical seizure, is easily able to eject the stuff fold by fold. The "ectoplasm" spreads out as it emerges, and if it has been cleverly painted and shaped, may assume the aspect of a woman's or man's face. Eva, the beautiful French medium, was able to make an ectoplastic substance take the shape of a large hand wrapped around her brow, but she was so long before my time that I can only guess at her method. Ectoplastic photographs have also been faked with thin strands of cotton batting, or thick cigarette smoke, but the most "advanced" of the ectoplasticists have recourse to an ingenious combination of concealed mirrors, indirect, dim lighting, and sensitized screens, which catch the reflection of a dummy concealed beneath the flooring and render it luminous. Meanwhile the drawing on this page will give you a capital idea'of the impression that is raised in the' consultant's mind. Since most women visit spiritualists because of anguished "bereavements, it is generally safe to assume' that the applicant has lost a husband or lover. From the hidden trap the assistant manipulates a switchboard, and the figure of a man, with featureless face, appears behind the medium's head on the sensitized screen, while she writhes and groans in trancelike, galvanic twitchings, to the terror, astonishment and rapture of the young widow, so eager for a sight from "beyond." (To Be Continued.) , I

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