Psychometry is a series exploring psychological issues relating to loss, anxiety, and memory. These images suggest a world in which ordinary objects transcend their material nature to evoke the elusive presence of the past. I move beyond documentation to create a visual record of an intangible and invisible presence. My work is about ghosts and memories. It expresses how inanimate objects have their own secret and mysterious histories. In this imagery I am able to suggest my fascination with the leftover energy and explore how these former possessions are weighted with the ambiguous presence of the past. The images are meant to enable the viewer to experience an energy that is ordinarily felt and not seen.
The term “psychometry” refers to the pseudo-science of object reading, a physic ability claimed by certain individuals to divine the history of an object with which they come into close contact. The objects I photograph, discovered in flea markets, estate sales, and antique shops, already have their own unknowable histories. They range from ordinary items such as dollhouses, birdcages, and Christmas ornaments, to symbolically charged objects that relate to the human figure, such as dress forms, leg braces, and wigs. Once photographed, they form a visual language that hints at the lives and energy that once surrounded them. Like a psychometrist, I collect these tarnished decrepit items, evaluate them, and suggest a reading of their past. Ironically, these open-ended interpretations only reinforce the idea that the secrets of the past will remain forever lost.
Darkroom manipulation allows me to place the objects in a more psychological and less literal space. Extensive scratching, mark making, and blurring transform the original photographs into uncanny visions, seemingly connected the unconscious. Furthermore, they call into question the veracity of the photograph itself. These manipulations enable me to create a new reality that balances the objects between fact and fiction.
Pervading the work is a sense of melancholy for the past and a mounting dread that comes with the realization that our own stories will suffer the same fate. These images are designed to create a tension between beauty and decay that expresses anxiety over the passage of time, the inevitability of death, and a fascination with the unknown.
Carol Golemboski lives in Ithaca, NY and teaches at Ithaca College. She earned her MFA from the Virginia Commonwealth University and her MA from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She has had solo shows at the Houston Center for Photography and the Creadle School of Art in Florida, and group shows at Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, Silver Eye Gallery in Pittsburgh, University of Virginia, and New York University. Robert Klein Gallery in Boston, Massachusetts represents her work. She has received grants from Light Work, The Virginia Commission for the Arts, and a James B. Pendleton Research Grant from Ithaca College. Carol’s images have been published in Contact Sheet, Afterimage, Ithaca Times, and The Daily Press.