Have you ever seen those surreal, hazy portraits known as “aura photography” that claim to capture the essence of a person’s soul based on the colors that appear around them on an overlaid print? To take these pictures, you’d have to get your a hands on the rare camera that Guy Coggins invented back in 1970. The camera collects data from its subjects by having them place their hands on two boxes, both of which have been fitted with biofeedback receptors to measure the electromagnetic fields around them. This data is then converted into frequencies and finally into a corresponding set of colors. Mystics and spiritualists explain that “aura” is a term used to embody the invisible emanations psychics can see when they look at different people.
Whether they can actually reveal the characteristics of people’s personalities or not, these photographs are undeniably beautiful. Their blotted hues blend into each other and resemble watercolors diffusing across a piece of paper. Just about anyone — regardless of their metaphysical beliefs — can enjoy their soothing colors.
One day, Rachel Cope, the co-founder of Calico Wallpaper, stumbled upon an aura photograph that her partner had taken when he was just a child. Cope found that the image stuck in her mind as if begging her to be put to creative use. More than happy to oblige it, she created a collection of striking modern wallpaper designs, which she has named “Aura” in reference its subtle, luminous vitality.
“Calico Wallpaper’s Aura Collection reveals these unseen fields,” the company muses. “Drawing on the practice of Kirlian photography, we worked with the experimental design studio The Principals to create an interactive installation that could capture a subject’s Aura. Using conductive sensing, we were able to render the inherent electricity in our bodies and invisible attributes of space visible, and explore the spectrum of Aura’s ever-changing colors. We transformed the resulting images into large-scale wallpapers to create a series of seven colorways that reflect the intangible qualities of energy and light.”
The installation in question features panels lined with Aura wallpapers and an interactive chandelier that emits various sounds based on the movements of the people walking directly beneath it. The exhibition debuted at this year’s Sight Unseen Offsite, a show that displays the work of several high-end design studios.
Some of the Aura collection’s available colorways include a deep indigo that fades into cerulean blue, a muted pink and gold that recalls a sunset disappearing over the horizon, a shimmering lavender, and the dark hues of an approaching storm. Each roll of wallpaper is printed on Type II vinyl, given a Class A fire rating and 10-week lead time, and features custom, non-repeating artwork. If you’d like to take a closer look at a particular pattern before committing to a full-scale print, you can always order an 8 x 10 inch sample.
What do these mystic colors evoke for you? When you look at them, do you see human characteristics and emotions or just an abstract beauty that would look great on your walls? According to Calico, “The Aura Collection is inspired by the process of revelation – it translates unseen energies into visual imagery. Each colorway offers a glimpse into a key element of our inner essence, the core qualities that drive and influence us, and connect us to the cycle and flow of the universe.”