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The Glowing Effects of Kirlian Photography Spark Curiosity and Inspire Energetic Artistry



Kirlian photography is a technique that captures the energy flow of both living and non-living objects—otherwise known as a coronal discharge. When we hear corona, we might think of the plasma that surrounds the sun. More frequently, we might associate it with the current pandemic. However, it’s an interesting perspective as to the relationship of all objects having their own corona, aura, or qi.

This photographic technique captures the energetic field objects emit also known as electromagnetic energy. Capturing energy through Kirlian photography has intrigued scientists worldwide while continuing to inspire artists alike. The imagery and effects leave a glowing imprint reminding us we are all made of stardust.


The Forgotten History Behind Kirlian Photography:

Kirlian photography produces imaginative images that we wouldn’t necessarily see with the naked eye. Electrical engineer, Semyon Davidovitch Kirlian actually stumbled upon it by accident in 1939. After witnessing a hospital patient receive medical treatment from a high-frequency electrical generator, he noticed the way electrodes would glow when brought near the patient’s skin. Inspiration immediately struck as Semyon and his wife, Valentina began to experiment on how to best tap into this energy and capture it through photography.

The Kirlian’s attached conductors to leaves and plants, placing them on photographic film and a metal conducting plate. Ultimately, the voltage traveled through water molecules in an organism, thus exposing its coronal discharge. Upon his discovery, Kirlian believed he was accessing the life force found within all beings. He thought this would be a great tool in uncovering energetic ailments to combat illnesses. The couple kept this private and didn’t publicly release their findings until the late 1950s. The popularity surrounding this phenomenon grew during the 70s.

Throughout his career, Kirlian developed a strong reputation in the electrical engineering field with Tesla being one of his predecessors. Kirlian was often called upon to fix mishaps in various laboratories throughout Russia.

There were (and still are) many clashes within the scientific community with claims stating this approach is a myth or pseudoscience. What Kirlian believed to be a mystical occurrence, others identified as nothing of particular interest.


A Lool at the Torn Leaf Experiment:

torn leaf

In one of his photography sessions, Kirlian captured the electromagnetic field of a leaf. He believed his photography related to the life force essence—what can also be known as the aura, qi, etc., While there are many scientific studies that argue against Kirlian’s beliefs, curiosity propelled him to cut a piece of the leaf off to see what would happen. To his surprise, the leaf continued to emit its light at a dwindling rate. Essentially, the coronal discharge (or qi) was escaping the leaf.

A study done at Vanderbilt University looked at the Kirlian photography approach to better understand those who have had out of body and near-death experiences. In an attempt to capture nerve endings from amputees who claimed they felt pain 20 years later it was found that “under certain conditions, a photographable phantom effect may exist in humans as well as in plants.” The study continues by looking at various theories relating to energies being independent and separating from the body during an OBE or NDE.

While claims lie on both sides of the equation,  the techniques of Kirlian photography have shed valuable insights in expanding our field of vision, piquing curiosity, providing insights for research and are practiced by many artists to this day. Aura, qi, electromagnetic energy or all of the above, we are beings of light and there is a lot to appreciate in the beauty of this art.


Additional Reading:


The Phantom Leaf Effect and Its Implications for Near-Death and Out-of-Body Experiences


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