The Media of Mediumship
Encountering the Material Culture of Modern Occultism in Britain's Science, Technology, and Magic Collections
Encountering the Material Culture of Modern Occultism in Britain's Science, Technology, and Magic Collections

[EVENT] ‘The Occult History of the X-Ray’, Emma Merkling

24 November 2021, 6:15–9pm | Live Talk | Lates, Science Museum, London

‘Is the invisible visible?’ was the first question posed to Wilhelm Röntgen in an interview conducted shortly after his sensational discovery of X-rays in 1895. This new technology enabled the eye to penetrate solid flesh, revealing the living skeleton hidden within. In the ghostly radiograph created by Röntgen of his wife’s hand, dark bones emerge eerily out of a mass of translucent, grey flesh. The image is spooky — but does the spectral connection go deeper? This Science Museum Lates event by ‘Media of Mediumship’ team member Emma Merkling explores the occult histories of X-ray technology in Britain. How was radiography’s piercing ‘eye’ used by occultists — and their challengers — to see through external appearances and reveal the hidden realities within?

Book on the Science Museum website.

Copy of photograph of a radiograph of a hand, covered with glass, taken by Wilhelm Röntgen (Wurzburg, Germany), 1895 © Science Museum Group collection

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