“Hotdog, Art!”

About 10 years ago, I got involved in a ghost hunt that was supposed to take place at the closed psychiatric hospital in Aarhus called Det Jydske Asyl, where we spent about four hours during one night in the old house, where we tried to channel messages from the spirits of the former residents. The primary method we used was to set up audio and video recorders in different rooms and see if some spirits would talk to us through the recordings. During the night in Det Jydske Asyl we did not manage to connect with any spirits, but some years later this experience led me to another discovery. I was hiking in southern Norway. For fun, I tried the ghost hunter method again and made some sound recordings of the hollows of the oak trees. To start with, there was nothing remarkable on the recordings, but then a few minutes into the recording, a scratchy voice appeared. In the emptiness of this hollow tree something seemed to speak. It was clearly not a human voice, but rather the sound of someone scrawling messages on the inside of the tree or perhaps something eating its way through the woods. This phenomenon was undoubtedly what in modern ghost hunting terms is called the Electronic Voice Phenomenon or simply EVP. In a secular context, people would likely read EVP as random noises whose cause can be explained by radio interference or faulty recording equipment. The ghost hunters don’t seem to be looking for explanations though. Rather, they are interested in leaving the cause unexplained as a source of fantasy. Among the first EVP recordings were messages such as “This is G!”, “Hotdog, Art!” and “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all” Although most people in modern secular Denmark would probably refer to all this as superstitious phenomena, the modern ghost hunters are seriously engaged in their techniques of connecting with spirits. I think that their engagement represents a mystery in our society, of which there is far too little. Perhaps the purpose is not to convince people of the existence of ghosts, but rather to explore and expand understandings of the technology people surround themselves with. At ghosthunting.dk you can listen to EVP recordings made between 2008-2023 by a group of ghost hunters based in Denmark. I can recommend the group’s newest recordings, which were made in Branderup Forsmalings Hus. a gravelly voice through the radio noise that might says “It’s Torben”, “Behind you” and “Mom…. She just slipped.

— AH