Weird Universe

Photography and Photographers


Auroratone was a "process for translating music into color" invented circa 1940 by Englishman Cecil Stokes. The music vibrated an emulsion of crystallizing chemicals, and this was then photographed by a color movie camera, producing a kind of psychedelic movie of shifting colors synchronized with music (but this was the 1940s, before the concept of psychedelics was known in popular culture).

The hope was that these auroratone films could be used to treat psychiatric patients, and they were experimentally shown to soldiers in an army hospital suffering from psychotic depressions. Conclusion: "Observation revealed that these patients were intensely absorbed in the films, that their span of attention to the films was appreciably lengthened after exposure to the films. Weeping and sobbing was observed in some patients. Many patients became more accessible to individual and group psychotherapy immediately folllowing exposure to these films."

Their effect was also tested on juvenile delinquents. One kid told the experimenter, "I think God must have painted those pictures."

A company was formed to commercialize Auroratones and guide their development. Investors in this company included the Crosby Brothers (Larry and his famous brother Bing). Bing sang the music for many of the auroratones.

Treating psychiatric patients wasn't very profitable, so there was hope to find more lucrative applications of the auroratone process. One idea was to transfer auroratone color patterns onto textiles and ceramics. Some silk scarfs printed with visualizations of Bing Crosby singing "Home on the Range" were apparently manufactured, but never sold.

Not many auroratones still survive, but an example of one can be viewed on YouTube:

The auroratone process reminds me of the Clavilux (or Color Organ) invented by Thomas Wilfred in 1919 (previously posted about here).

More info about auroratones: Wikipedia and Milwaukee Journal, Dec 6, 1948.

Also see: Rubin, HE & Katz, E. (Oct 1946). "Auroratone films for the treatment of psychotic depressions in an army general hospital," Journal of Clinical Psychology, 2(4): 333-340.
Posted By: Alex | Date: Thu Sep 03, 2015 | Comments (9)
Category: Movies, Photography and Photographers, Psychology, 1940's

Cruise Ship Photos has posted an interesting collection of photos (titled "Love Boat Rejects") taken by official photographers aboard American, Norwegian, and Italian cruiseships during the 1990s. Check out the full gallery here.

Posted By: Alex | Date: Wed Aug 12, 2015 | Comments (5)
Category: Photography and Photographers, 1990's

Satanic cloud above Statue of Liberty

Over at, in honor of the Fourth of July, I just posted The 10 Weirdest Moments in the History of the Statue of Liberty, one of those moments being the time in 1989 (or maybe it was 1990 - sources differ), when two Irish tourists on vacation in NYC took a photo of Lady Liberty. It was only when they got back home and developed the photo that they noticed a "Satanic face" in the clouds leering down at her. I'll let you decide for yourself what meaning, if any, this might have. But as far as cloud photos go, it's a pretty famous one.

Also, Happy Fourth of July!

Posted By: Alex | Date: Sat Jul 04, 2015 | Comments (12)
Category: Photography and Photographers, 1980's

Things Stuck On Face

Brazilian artist Edu Monteiro photographs himself with things stuck on his face. Things such as an octopus, lycra and polystyrene, or a container of dirt. Explore more of his "self transformations" at his website:

via Yahoo! News
Posted By: Alex | Date: Thu Jun 11, 2015 | Comments (4)
Category: Costumes and Masks, Photography and Photographers

Slop Bucket Art

Art is where you find it. Photographer Alyssa Blumstein has found it at the bottom of a New York restaurant's slop bucket. She uploads pictures of the slop bucket's contents to a Tumblr page, where it's now attracting a following.

via Junk Culture
Posted By: Alex | Date: Sun May 10, 2015 | Comments (4)
Category: Art, Photography and Photographers

The Selfie Arm

Created by artists Justin Crowe and Aric Snee who describe it as a "sarcastic solution to a quintessential problem — nobody wants to look alone while they mindlessly snap pictures of themselves." The stick is shaped like an arm, so in the pictures it looks like you're holding someone's hand.

Posted By: Alex | Date: Wed Apr 29, 2015 | Comments (7)
Category: Photography and Photographers

Kearton’s Imitation Ox

In his efforts to obtain photographs of some of the shyest birds, an English author resorted to the most ingenious devices, one of which was an imitation ox made of a bullock skin stretched over a wicker frame. Concealed in this with his camera, the lens of which peeped out of a hole in the chest, the naturalist photographer took observations and obtained some excellent pictures. An artificial sheep also proved of great service when studying birds of the moors and mountains, its realistic appearance never failing to deceive, and making it a useful hiding place.
Source: The Canadian Magazine - April 1904

Find more info about Kearton and his ox here.

Posted By: Alex | Date: Sun Apr 19, 2015 | Comments (5)
Category: Photography and Photographers, 1900's

Diamond Postcard Gun


Original ad here.


Original text here.

I am uncertain about how the technology of 1914 allowed for one-minute development of photos. But somehow they managed, as you can see from the buttons below.

And damn, that was one gorgeous hunk of equipment!


Posted By: Paul | Date: Tue Apr 07, 2015 | Comments (7)
Category: Business, Hobbies and DIY, Photography and Photographers, 1910's

Your face on a pancake

Technology marches onward! Product development company Kinneir Dufort has created a machine that can print faces onto pancakes. It explains:

Combining CNC (Computer Numerical Control) technology with embedded face recognition and tracking software, the system dispenses layers of batter directly onto a hot plate allowing the creation of detailed and complex images within the pancake surfaces. As the conventional pancake batter is applied it immediately starts to cook and change colour and as subsequent layers are added the different tonal qualities of the image build up.

Posted By: Alex | Date: Mon Feb 23, 2015 | Comments (7)
Category: Food, Inventions, Photography and Photographers, Technology

Shampooed Hair Art

Photographer Cheuk Lun Lo has drawn inspiration from shampoo, creating a photo series in which he focuses on heads of hair all lathered up and twisted into various shapes. More info at Designboom.

Posted By: Alex | Date: Tue Feb 03, 2015 | Comments (7)
Category: Art, Hygiene, Photography and Photographers, Hair and Hairstyling
Page 1 of 7 pages  1 2 3 >  Last »
Custom Search

weird universe thumbnail

This page has been viewed 34042875 times.
All original content in posts is Copyright © 2008 by the author of the post, either Alex Boese ("Alex"), Paul Di Filippo ("Paul"), or Chuck Shepherd ("Chuck"). All rights reserved. The banner illustration at the top of this page is Copyright © 2008 by Rick Altergott.