Haunted Houses is a long-term project in which I photographed and collected oral ghosts stories in over eighty haunted sites throughout the United States. Haunted Houses was published in book form by The Monacelli Press/Random House in 2010. The series was inspired by turn of the century spirit photographs and Victorian ghost stories written by women as a means of articulating domestic discontents. In being the medium through which the spirit of these houses was recorded, I continued the tradition of female sensitivity to the supernatural. When I photographed in haunted houses, I tried to open myself to the invisible nuances of a space. I photographed using a large format camera, with exposures often ranging from a few seconds to a few hours. Though the medium of the visible, photography makes the invisible apparent. By collecting extensive evidence of the surface, one becomes aware of what is missing, and a space is provided for the viewer to imagine the invisible.
Haunted Houses provides a unique way of understanding our relationship to the spaces we inhabit, and reflects romantic and dystopian notions of the domestic realm. The notion of hauntedness activates and highlights the home, revealing the hidden narratives and possibilities of everyday life.
Haunted Houses includes an archive of first-hand ghost stories. The stories were collected on location and over the phone. They range in length from a few minutes to an hour. The voice is captured much like the space. Both image and text are haunted by absence, history, memory, and the possibility of never being seen or heard. Unlike the majority of horror films where the ghosts arrive as a result of an inopportune death, or to right a wrong, the inhabitants of these houses are often at a loss for why the ghosts are there, and in some cases the ghost is considered a source of comfort. Records were made from selected oral ghost stories and are presented for listening alongside the images.