Friday, June 10, 2011

Notes on Electronic Voice Phenomenon

I thought it might be interesting to come up with some notes on a few of the things that inspired this this little painting I did. I've always liked the idea of leaving my paintings completely open to interpretation, but I thought explaining some of the concepts behind this one would be fun. For me at least.

Electronic Voice Phenomenon. 2011. Oil on Canvas. 18" x 24"

1. Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) are audio recordings of noises that resemble human speech but are not the result of intentional voice recordings. At the time of recording, they are inaudible to the human ear, and they can only be heard upon playback. They are typically brief, usually only one word or a short phrase.

Some claim that EVPs are of paranormal origin and could be evidence of ghosts, demons, or other paranormal entities. Skeptics argue that EVPs have more natural explanations such as static, radio transmissions, background noise, pareidolia, or hoaxes.

2. Pareidolia is the psychological phenomenon of finding significance, meaning, or patterns in vague or random stimuli. Examples include automatically seeing a smiley face when combing two dots and a line :), seeing the man on the moon, seeing shapes in the clouds, or seeing a religious icon in a grilled cheese sandwich.

In relation to EVPs, misinterpreting random, meaningless background noise as understandable words or phrases would be an example of pareidolia.

(The Face on Mars)

(A box that appears adorably shocked)

(The Virgin Mary miraculously appeared on a grilled cheese sandwich)

3. The Fiji Mermaid – The mermaid is one of the most iconic products of the human imagination. They can also represent the hidden, mysterious, and undiscovered – the secret, distant, unexplored realms of the earth where anything could exist.

Popularized by P.T. Barnum, the Fiji Mermaid was a common feature of sideshows, presented as the mummified body of a creature that was half mammal and half fish. It was made by sewing the torso and head of a baby monkey to the back half of a fish and covering it with paper-maché. It is a classic example of a hoax.

Fiji Mermaid

(An actual factual fiji mermaid!)

4. Retro-futurism – an artistic aesthetic influenced by depictions of the future prior to the 1960s, blending old-fashioned styles and futuristic technology. Such futuristic visions, offer a nostalgic, imaginative, and counterfactual image of what the future might have been, but is not.

(Forbidden Planet, featuring Robby the Robot)

[Sources: What I didn't just come up with myself is paraphrased from Wikipedia. Scholarly!]

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