Mind Hacks points to anÂ article inÂ Fortean Times that details efforts in the early history of photography to capture the “psychic project ion of images directly onto film.” Before you laugh and think thoughtography in the same quackish vein asÂ spirit photography do note that one of humanity’s greatest minds,Â Nikola Tesla, was convinced he could devise a means to capture cerebrated impulses like light on a sensitive medium.
TheÂ ForteanÂ story references many ‘thoughtoraphic’ efforts, but I found the story of the Astral Cat most compelling.
â€œFrom the members of the Camera Club, seven of those having greatest animal magnetism and greatest power of mental concentrat ion were chosen for the experiment. Connection was made from the eye of these observers to the corresponding parts of the lens; then all were to remain in utter darkness and perfect silence, each person fixing his mind on a cat. They were not to think of any particular cat, but of a cat as represented by the innate idea of the mind or ego itself. This was highly important, for the purpose of Mr. Marvin was not simply to fix by photography an ephemeral recollection [..] it was to bring out the impression of ultimate feline reality. The innate image in the mind was the object desired. One manâ€™s thought of a cat would be individual, ephemeral, a recollection of some cat which he had some time seen, and which by the mindâ€™s eye would be seen again. From seven ideals, sympathetically combined, the true cat would be developed. This combination is the essence of sym psycho graphy , a term suggested by Prof. Amos Gridley, of Alcaldeâ€¦ The personal equation would be measurably eliminated in sym psycho graphy, while the cat of the human innate idea, the astral cat, the cat which â€˜never was on sea or landâ€™, but in accordance with which all cats have been brought into incarnation, would be more or less perfectly disclosed.â€