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British Library “Summer Scholars” – “Rorschach Audio” lunch-time talk, 28th June 2013

June 4, 2013

Rorschach Audio Sonic Archives

Writing in “Playback: The Bulletin of the British Library Sound Archive”, Toby Oakes observed that the archive “deals with the voices of the dead every day, but our subjects tend to have been alive at the time of recording”. “Mortality was no impediment” however, in the case of tapes recorded by parapsychologist Konstantin Raudive, who claimed that Galileo, Goethe and Hitler communicated with him through the medium of radio. Raudive was the most famous exponent of Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP), as it is known, and the British Library holds a collection of 60 of his unedited tapes. Rather than dismissing the claims of EVP researchers out-of-hand, author Joe Banks demonstrates a number of highly entertaining audio-visual illusions, which show how the mind can misinterpret recordings of sound and of stray communications chatter, in a similar way to how viewers project imaginary images onto the random visual forms of the psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach’s famous ink-blot tests. The talk stresses the important role that intelligent guesswork plays in normal perception, and discusses descriptions of sound phenomena by Leonardo da Vinci, and the work of the BBC Monitoring Service, emphasizing the influence that wartime intelligence work with sound had on one of the most important works of visual arts theory every published.

The talk starts at 12:30 (however the library is a bit of a labyrinth so arrive 10 minutes early to make sure you find the scriptorium on time). Admission is free and refreshments are provided. To attend please e-mail your name to

“Rorschach Audio – Ghost Voices, Art, Illusions and Sonic Archives”
12:30 lunch-time, 28 June 2013
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London NW1 2DB

This talk is part of the British Library’s Summer Scholars programme –

Special thanks for Stephen Cleary for the invitation, and thanks also to everyone who came along to “Circuit Blasting” in Brighton!

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One Comment
  1. I cant believe i missed this talk. How was it?

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