The Spectrascope


gallery installation
south hill park
haunted media
publications &press

spectrascope archive image


Above. South Hill Park, Berkshire, England. Interior view.

This image was collected at the rate of a pixel every second via the internet in vertical bands.
It depicts the 21 hours and 20 mins (approx.) leading up to Monday 12th September at 14.21pm


Catalogue essay for
The Blur of The Otherworldly: Contemporary Art, Technology and the Paranormal
by Jane Marsching

The Spectrascope, 2005

British artist, Susan Collins has worked in electronic media for almost two decades, creating interdisciplinary projects in a wide range of media including sound, internet, robotic, video and interactive installation, often in site specific public locations. Curious about the perceptual glitches between the real and the artificial, Collins latest piece, The Spectrascope, is an installation in which we watch an apparent haunting of a haunted manor house, South Hill Park in Berkshire, England, infamous for ghost sightings.

An image of an ornate chandelier hanging over a grand balcony is captured by a digital video camera installed in the manor for the duration of the exhibition and transmitted to the US via the internet. What we are actually seeing is an image constructed pixel by pixel; every second one pixel at a time from top left to bottom right is replaced. The screen, which is 320 x 240 pixels or 76,800 seconds, shows us just under one day of pixels in one extended timelapse image of the site.

The piece echoes parapsychologists’ technological investigations of haunted sites, but the emphasis on data collection is taken to an absurd level. Details like people passing in front of the webcam are registered infinitesimally. The technology itself finds the spirits haunting the manor in the form of variations in image from the passing of time as people pass through the space or day turns to night.

What we are left with is an evanescent compiled image of time, redolent with an uncanny sense of the presence of something, be it ghosts or real people, in the manor. The image is on the borderline between signal and noise, an uncomfortable space where our perceptions are heightened as we seek to determine what is interference and what is real, what is random and what is intentional, what is a spectre and what is lived.


back to publications & press


All images © susan collins 2005-8