In the era of instant fact checking, there isn't much room for debate. New age practices are often lumped into the category of ghost stories and urban legends. One artist however is changing that by offering up actual proof that we are more than just flesh and blood. Through the use of a special camera, Christina Lonsdale, under the title of Radiant Human, can capture on Polaroid the energy field known as an aura that we all emit, offering you a unique look at the colorful projection that most people cannot see with the naked eye. We sat down with her to explore her process.
What is Radiant Human?
Radiant Human is a traveling portrait project that I started about 4 years ago. I utilize aura photography as a tool to explore the human atmosphere. I'm obsessed with the idea of perception; how we perceive ourselves, how we perceive color and energy, how we perceive each other; all subjective things of course, but very important when you think of what someone's essence truly is and where our identity fits into all of this. Radiant Human is a project that explores how we identify with more than our physical body, that often times what we feel or what we value defines us more than the size of our nose or how good we can pose in front of the camera. I think this is really interesting when you look at the influence social media has on our present culture and the potential of what a selfie could really be.
How did you find your calling in reading aura?
It's crazy when I think of it. It all makes sense in retrospect, but believe me, it didn't feel like it until I got to where I'm at now.
My parents met because of a goat named Foxy Lady. I was born on a commune that my dad started in the 1960s, in fact my dad started a lot of things, the town's first health food store, the town's first counter culture newspaper, even a non profit in India teaching the lowest caste English .. he’s a starter, a business guy and very community oriented. My mom is an artist, she does these amazing paintings about her meditations and visions she has about spirits and archetypes. She paints auras a lot and this was the first time I conceptualized what energy was. Her paintings are really strong. Really beautiful. I’ve posted a few on my IG. To top it off, my big sister is a professional photographer and one of the first female pro snowboarders. She was my hero growing up, she showed me how to be brave with getting weird. That to be myself (being different) was actually really cool and worth exploring. I also have an amazing group of friends that I’ve had since high school age, there's about 20 of us and we are all creative and all working for ourselves. I’m really proud of them, we keep each other going.
Two things that stand out to me is your ability to remember details about people you have met only once and your soothing and calming personality. Having both qualities is such a rarity these days. How do you do it?
I have absolutely no idea! I honestly wish I could remember more but I just hit 17,000 photos so it's getting harder and harder. I think it's just because it still means a lot to me, I’m still really into this you know?
How do you capture aura within a polaroid? Is this practice self-taught?
The camera works on the principle that we all have electricity in our body and that electricity radiates past our skin’s surface. This camera uses hand sensors that pick up this electricity and through a proprietary algorithm, matches you to a color, then that color comes out as a second exposure. It takes just about 60 seconds for the photo to develop on film and I think that is really one of the treasures about this process. This is on film! It’s one of a kind! There are no doubles, no jpegs that can be duplicated and therefore become disposable. This photograph is as unique and singular as you are.
It's a very rare hand built camera, so there are no aura photography schools. All of my work has been collected from interacting with thousands and thousands of people.
What can we learn about ourselves through these readings?
Like most things in life, I think you get what you put into it. Some people come to me just for the novelty and that's exactly what they leave with. Some people come to me with more; they relate to the project on a deeper level and that's where I meet them. Its really cool as an artist to work with your subjects in this way. Just as the camera is reflecting what it sees, so am I. For this reason, what you can learn is varied. You can learn about a rare trippy camera and leave with a cool photo. Some can see how color and energy can communicate much more than you think. Some even see the validation that happens when a stranger takes the time to truly see you, not for your cool pose or big smile, but for what you are putting into this world, what you care about and see in yourself.
How often do our auras change? Can we guide these changes or is it out of our control?
That's an interesting question. Yes they change, because this is energy and energy always changes, but I have found that some people fluctuate more than others. Very few control this.
How do our auras affect those around us?
I believe this is something we have already digested in pop culture through terms like: “good vibes” or “bad vibes”. Our vibrational frequency is real, it's out there! I always use the analogy of a radio wave, we are broadcasting information all the time, some people just pick up on that. Some people are so sensitive it's overwhelming, there's noise everywhere like a scrambled radio and some people have like- no signal, no reception.
Your ability to make aura visible and tangible, you've helped bridge the gap between science and mysticism. What does this mean for the future of both practices? What do you hope for?
I hope that as we evolve towards A.I. that we prioritize compassion and humanity equally with efficiency and progress.
Where can we find you next?
Instagram! I am always announcing where I will be on IG (@radianthuman_) it's become a very effective portfolio/email blast. After I am done touring North America I really want to take this Internationally. I want Europe! Tokyo! Hong Kong! Iceland! Australia! You name it! Location demographics are really interesting to me so I am not stopping anytime soon.
Intro by Douglas Cornwall III. Interview by Morgan T. Stuart. Photos courtesy of Radiant Human.