In Transcendental Capacity (Billboard Hot 100s), Jeremy Shaw employs the obscure form of Kirlian photography to record a series of experiments using himself as the basis for testing the unseen visual effects of popular American music. Kirlian photography is a contact-based process used to capture the phenomenon of electrical coronal discharges that naturally occur around objects – considered by some to be their aura. (1) In complete darkness, Shaw listens through headphones to specific Billboard Hot 100 charts – the definitive list of a single year in American pop music (in this exhibition: 1969, 1984, 2001, 2008). At a certain point during each song, he places his index finger directly on an unexposed piece of Polaroid land-film situated on the copper plate surface of a Kirlian camera device and ignites a high voltage charge from within it - sending an electric shock through the film and into his finger. The process captures a photographic image of both his fingerprint and the unseen electrical coronal discharge that exists around it at that given moment in time, serving as a visual translation of each song’s mediation through his body and its effect, if any, on his aura. 

Also on view is the most current version of This Transition Will Never End (2008 – present) – Shaw’s ongoing archive of appropriated footage taken from a wide variety of movies and television in which a vortex, or any such tunnel-like or spiraling image is used to represent the slippage of time or a transition from one reality to another. This constantly updated work serves as a catalogue of the varying styles and techniques used to create this commonplace depiction of the ubiquitous phenomenon that remains as-of-yet, impossible to document. 

(1) Discovered in 1939 by Russian inventor Semyon Kirlian, the technique was introduced into Western scientific research during the 1970’s, but quickly abandoned due to its inability to remain stable within regulated scientific parameters. Although discarded by traditional science, the process is still used within fields of parapsychology, fringe science and various mystical practices.

© Images Roman März