Back in 1977, photographer Douglas Curran began taking photos of objects built by people in anticipation of the arrival of extraterrestrials. Eight years later, he collected these photos together in his book In Advance of the Landing: Folk Concepts of Outer Space.
"The words in the title," [Curran] said, "came to me in a dream in 1975. I wrote them down and carried them in a book for two years before I had any ideas as to what I was going to do with them."
Curran was asked how the people he photographed received him. Were they suspicious or secretive? He replied that they were open to him.
"I arrive on their doorstep," he said, "tell them my name, and explain that I heard about their work and want to talk to them. They're usually surprised that somebody from so far away heard about them. Also, they feel I'm ordained to do this. I've become great friends with many of them."
I haven't had a chance to read the book, but it seems like it belongs in any library of weird reading material. You can get a copy either via Curran's website or from Amazon.
Curran also made a documentary film of the same name that he released in 1993.
In 1959, the Ohio State Highway Patrol produced a 27-minute film showing graphic scenes of fatal traffic accidents. The footage was accompanied by a soundtrack of the cries and moans of the victims. They called the film "Signal 30" — referring to the patrol's radio code for fatal accidents.
The film was shown at many high schools, in an attempt to scare kids into being good drivers. Some judges also made people with traffic violations watch it "to atone for their violations." It got some dramatic reactions from viewers. For instance:
One woman rushed from the room, nauseated. Firemen gave her a whiff of ammonia to prevent fainting and she said: "I don't think I'll ever drive again."
Another woman had to be carried from the courtroom and given oxygen after she watched a truck driver burning to death in the color-and-sound film.
The film is now on YouTube, so you can find out how you would react to it. (I actually haven't had the courage to watch it yet.)
Researchers at UC San Diego (my grad school alma mater) have published research documenting that the "ominous background music that often accompanies shark footage" can cause people to view sharks in a negative light, whereas the same footage set to "uplifting background music" doesn't have this effect.
They note that their study is the first "to demonstrate empirically that the connotative attributes of background music accompanying shark footage affect viewers’ attitudes toward sharks."
Very recently I traveled to London for the first time and stumbled upon this man named Stephen Wright who’s systematically turning his home into a giant piece of artwork he calls “The House Of Dreams”.
I made a super short film about him and his home, and thought it may be of interest to you and/or your readers Would love to hear your thoughts.
Definitely WU-worthy. In fact, Wright's House of Dreams is a bit like WU itself — a collection of oddities gathered in one place over many years.
I never knew of the existence of this film until reading the obituary of one of its creators, L. M. Kit Carson. As an ancestor of Spinal Tap and others of that ilk, it should appeal to WU-vies, I think.
Unfortunately, the entire video does not seem available online. There's a snippet above, and a mini-documentary about the documentary in two parts below. (Caution: brief flash of modest nudity in part two.) You can buy the disc or stream it at Amazon.
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Who We Are
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
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