“Ossian Brown was a member of the dark, magical electronic music group Coil and is currently in Cyclobe, a duo with his partner Stephen Thrower. Ossian is a strange attractor. Weird things find him. Like his exquisite collection of antique vernacular photographs of Halloweens past. Brown compiled his favorites of the freaky found photos, all dating between 1875 and 1955, into a lovely new book titled Haunted Air. David Lynch wrote the introduction and Geoff Cox the afterword. Here is a glimpse of how the old, weird America celebrated All-Hallows Eve.”
“I like to experience each photograph as a magical event, frozen in front of me. I’m drawn to pictures with a mood that ‘oozes’ into the normality of the moment, and changes it. It’s important to me that there’s nothing to disturb this, no detail in the composition or in the models posture that could interfere with that magic. I’m excited by pictures where I can see a natural mutation has occurred, not just in the condition of the photograph, with mould spots and tears creating new and unimagined landscapes, but also from the passing down and inheritance of a costume, perhaps over many years. The perishing of fabrics and the rotting of early rubber, due to chemical instabilities and damp conditions, create new and sinister, puzzling abnormalities. Time and repeated wear have caused a beautiful metamorphosis, never intended or imagined by the maker.”
— Ossian Brown
“All the clocks had stopped. A void out of time. And here they are – looking out and holding themselves still – holding still at that point where two worlds join – the familiar – and the other. Human creatures with the feeling of being turned strange and open to falling. And glee — they seemed to have a glee for somehow stitching a laugh to darkness. I was somewhere else. I thought I was someplace but now I didn’t know what place. I seemed to be inside foreign worlds where there was some kind of troubling camaraderie — as if a haunting joke was known to everyone but me and yet faintly I knew it too.”
— David Lynch
“These are pictures of the dead: family portraits, mementoes of the treasured, the held-dear-in-heart, now unrecognisable, other. Torn from album pages, sold piecemeal for pennies and scattered, abandoned to melancholy chance and the hands of strangers. Death masks reanimate, the once-living frozen whilst aping the ravages of their own demise. Life and death is clowned and puppeted, conjoined in the conjured bodies and faces of carnival mannequins…Wolf-Man, child-wraith, witch-wife, ghoul. Playful monsters. Familiar familiars, all strangely innocent, they caper, amuse, reassure. But as the eye is drawn closer, as the eye is set to wander – thorns in the cloth; ticks in the fur; weevils in the flour. A child’s frantic distress. Seance pictures wound round in a mad cat’s cradle of knotted light, each sitter wearing the simulacrum of his own end.
— Geoff Cox
This looks like quite an amazing book for all of us fascinated by all things Halloween, particularly Halloween past. Those of us who yearn for a time when Halloween was more of a spookfest than an excuse for people to dress ridiculously (or slutty) and behave like out of control college freshmen. It’ll definitely be one to grace the shelves here at Backwoods Horror!