A new type of medium emerged in the early-20th century of which the Frenchwoman Eva C. was the most spectacular example. The phenomena she caused to occur brought the materialisations that particularly gifted individuals could produce to the attention of European scientists. It was believed that a visible substance exuded from a medium’s body during her communication with the “other side”. The material that emerged from the medium’s body was a viscous substance that came out from her mouth, vagina and nipples in what was clearly an allusion to female fluids. The ectoplasm that Eva’s body exuded (it was no coincidence that she adopted the name of the first woman) was like a spectacular birth scene, accompanied by sexual groans, sighs, screams and shouts.

During these sessions, Eva as such disappeared, to emerge as a potential container, a vase with many holes. A medium’s material production entailed her own disappearance. Eva would shout “Je suis prise” during manifestations, confirming her absence just when she was most visible. 

Photography played a vital role in these phenomena. At a session with Eva C., Schrenck-Notzing obtained three small examples of ectoplasm. When analysed, it was discovered that the ectoplasm was made from human skin. Was ectoplasm the outer layer of a body from another world, or living matter from a creature from beyond? Ectoplasm leads us directly to the material used in the cinema and photography, film. The word “film” derives from pellis, skin, membrane. Through Eva C., who embodies the ambivalence of The Vanishing Woman, the camera does not capture the truth, either about ectoplasm or about femininity; rather, it captures an image of itself. 

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