Friday, April 20, 2012

Ectography

Ectography is an arcane technique used in capturing images of non-physical or trans-physical objects, items or entities. It originated with the ancient, crude  camera obscuras and skrying boxes used by phantasmagorists, mediums and evocationaries, but developed into its own thing fairly quickly as alchemists and others sought to replicate the results gained by some of the more successful mediums. Trial and error led to myriad breakthroughs and dead ends alike, but the conventional configuration of lenses, fluid condensers, mirrors, and heavily lacquered black boxes was arrived at more than seven hundred years ago, perhaps more than a thousand years ago if the claims of Archimbaldo and Lange are to be taken seriously. But since they also are the main proponents of some of the wilder paleo-astronomy theories currently in vogue among the more lurid publications, their claim as to the pedigree of ectography is somewhat in doubt.

Ectography makes use of a bitumen-based solution on glass plates, as with heliotropes, but it also relies upon a formulation of silver nitrate, as per daguerreotypes, and in addition it only works in conditions of darkness and in the presence of ectoplasm. The first models could only be worked by a physical medium, or with the assistance of one or more practising mediums, making it difficult to use and unwieldy in general. The use of certain salts in the formulation of the primary solution made the ectographic cameras usable by non-mediums. There is rigorous debate to this day over what formulation or solution is the best or most effective. Some ectographers prefer a preliminary bath of colloidal silver to prime their glass plates, others insist on necrocineris, black saltes, or even a derivative of White Powder, while still others will only work with a paste made from ground-up old mummies and certain 'secret ingredients' they insist must be compounded during certain phases of the moon. Certain schools teach their students to always use specific grades of incense for best results, others avoid smoke of all sorts and instead make use of pans of fresh-drawn blood, or even less wholesome methods. There are hundreds of different, competing formulations and techniques in use and each one has its merits; those methods that did not produce effective results were cast aside long ago. A direct predecessor of Haemotypes (see here for an example), the images produced by ectography are derived from ectoplasm, not blood. At least not directly.

Modern ectography combines a sort of psychometry with ectoplasmic senstivity, but now the camera-mechanism is at least as much the active medium as any sitter or ectopath that the ectographer might be employ. The cameras often become extremely sensitive due to long exposure to the various volatile compounds used in the process. Some cameras are reputed to have become haunted. Other have been confiscated for use as spirit-traps or worse. It is a volatile and complicated field, rife with competing adepts, (literally) cut-throat experts and not a few incautious dabblers or unscrupulous charlatans who often stir up a great deal of trouble, especially wherever there might be Horlas or Fantomists involved.

Ectography was originally established as a viable artistic method and technique well before the Midwives' Rebellion and has continued to grow, evolve and fragment into dozens of specializations, unique sub-disciplines and spin-off techniques that in some cases threaten to eclipse the old approaches with their newfangled ways of producing evocative images, whether they are capturing the impressions of dreams, showing the true face of those who are not what they seem, revealing otherwise invisible things, a dying man's last memories, the last thing seen by a murder victim, or some bizarre montage of disjointed impressions taken across planar membranes, through time, or even more outlandish and outrageous things. Ectographers are a strange lot, always pushing back the boundaries of what can be seen, often with a total disregard for whether or not these things should be seen, or the consequences of making such things visible.

Recent experiments in time-lapse ectography near some of the more stable Weak Points have revealed what may be a dangerous new approach to transplanar exploration...if the glass plates that survived the carnage that has left three ectographers dead and seven missing are any indication...

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