Ghost Polaroids Interview: Your questions answered

Back in Halloween of 2007, I met John Matkowsky while attending his exhibit “Seeing Things”, in which he displayed a few dozen of his hundreds of polaroids that depict the writings of “Wright”. The supposed entity that manifested words and answers out of thin air. I manage to ask John a few personal questions that night.Questions off the top of my head that had accumulated over the years. It was not until summer of 2009 that I actually got a chance to sit down with John and ask more elaborate and personal questions. Some questions that I forgot to ask and some questions that the readers of had for John. What transpired that late afternoon only left me questioning my own reality.

I had arranged to meet with John in his gallery on a late Saturday afternoon. I was glad that the gallery was only about a 10 minute drive from my downtown loft, it was hot and I wasn’t feeling the traffic. I showed up with my messenger bag full of pens, a camera, a knife and a notebook with a list of questions. The gallery is always in a pristine condition and very well organized. Clean and simple. There was a photographer there doing his thing and some “scene kids” walking about the hallways. I paid no mind. I just walked right in and saw John in the upstairs. He offered me a drink, and I took him up for a cold beer. After all, it was really hot that day.  Corona of course.

We started to get down to business. I explained to John that I wanted to keep it loose and casual. Since I remember him stating that this has been a very personal phenomenon I was treading carefully. Feeling him out as the questions got more and more personal.

I started with the questions that readers from GhostTheory had for John.

Kevin says:

If John – not sure which John – in the first video he is opening up a brand new pack of polaroid film provided by the producer, and some scribbling is still written (the clip didn’t show any), then I doubt any trickery was involved, unless of course they switched the film. But I’m still a tad skeptical because the magician was able to replicate the ghost writing, though under more controlled circumstances.

Given “Wright’s” apparent erudition, I couldn’t help but notice John’s voluminous bookcase in the background. I’d be interested to know more about the background of both John’s, e.g., where they went to school, what did they study, do they know any Latin or Greek, have they ever dabbled in magic, and what are their occupations.

I asked the question, and John mentioned that he’s a writer, flim maker and photographer (black & white).  Looking around, all photos and displays were in black & white. John mentioned that he never studied latin. So when some of the photos came out in latin, they had to decipher them as they went along.

Danny says:

I would be curious to know whether John Matkowsky has tried to profit commercially in any way with his alleged dealings with Wright the ghost, is he being payed money for this upcoming interview?.

Does John still communicate with Wright through polaroid images ?, has Wright given John any more insight into what’s like being a ghost and the afterlife.

I can assure you that I did not pay John for this interview. He took the time to answer questions from the community with no financial gain. All I gained was the interview, a cold beer and a good conversation on a hot afternoon.

John has recently put together a large book with some of the most interesting polaroids taken. I asked John the question about him profiting from this. How this could look to many skeptics as a hoax geared towards making money. John’s reaction was sincere. He knows what people say about his experience, but doesn’t really pay any mind to them. John tells me: “Yea we are selling a book. A very nice looking and put together book. As far as making money from this whole thing? No. I’ve sold a handful of books and the profit was not enough to continue. I put together the book, graphics and writing. It’s very time consuming.”


Wright's response to "Are you a good or bad ghost?"

As of the interview, John’s last communication with Wright has been about a year ago. John made it quite clear that Wright does not communicate that often, and at times, going through a lot of pictures before some writing appears. As far as the question about what it’s like being  a ghost or the afterlife? John stated that when they asked the spirit of it was a good ghost or a bad one, he responded with “Friend”. When they asked Wright if he is here (in this earth) all the time, or if he goes somewhere else he responded with “Flux”.

What does Wright mean by “Flux”?

Fluctuate between what we perceive as the afterlife and this life? or if we take the latin meaning of flux (fluxus) which means flow or to flow; meaning that he flows through life.

Gary says:

I’ll post a couple of questions Jav, ask whichever ones you want.

John, understandably you feel slighted by the Sightings program and what they did. Why hold back on these polaroids and digital pictures now?

It appears Wright is a gaurdian of sorts. Has he communicated anything to you which warned you of a upcoming danger?

Has Wright stated where he is currently? (Heaven, Earth, another dimension)

Have you had any actual conversations with Wright besides question and answer?

Actually here’s one more: John, have you ever tried other means of communication, such as EVP?

So I asked John why he held on to the photographs for so long, before going public? He told me that many psychics had visited the home prior to the “Sightings” show. Many friends had witnessed the phenomenon and taken their own pictures. John said that it wasn’t until psychic Peter James investigated

The late Peter James

The late Peter James

that Peter suggested they go public with this. John had said that he was always in fear of being judged and ridiculed. When he did the “Seeing Things” exhibit, he did it in the 3rd person. The exhibit was done as a remembrance to the late Peter James. John and Peter had formed a strong friendship throughout the years. Peter James visited John and Wright quite often. I moved on to the next set of questions. Has Wright ever predicted upcoming danger? or some sort of prophecies? He answered with a simple “No”.  Has Wright ever said where he was at any point in time? or if he has had any full length conversations besides just a question and answer communication?  again, a simple “No.”

I asked John if he has ever attempted communication through EVP or a Ouija board. John’s expression changed from a sad and somber look, since talking about Peter James, to a more excited one. “Yes, we tried that thing….what’s it called…E…”  EVP? I asked. “Yes, EVP and Ouija board.” John proceeds to tell me that a psychic had once brought a Ouija  board and supposedly fell in a trance and said that they were the spirit of a Tongva native. (Tongvas were native American people that inhabited the Los Angeles area and its surrounding lands). John was skeptical of this since him and his roommate had done research awhile back and discovered that Tongvas did not inhabit that particular area just outside of Downtown Los Angeles. “But the EVP….that was clear!” John says. “I forget what we had asked Wright, but the answer was captured on tape and was audible to everyone in the livin groom. “Once” was what Wright had said.”

YourRealityIsLaughable says:


I came across this story just recently about the Wright ghost and was truly amazed at the accuracy of the ghost writing particularly the timing between the questions and photo taking. Having said that, I remain somewhat skeptical of how the footage from the show Sightings was handled. Though the three individuals seem genuine enough, the lure of fortune and fame can blur the sight of logic.

My question: Can anybody snap a picture with just ANY type of camera, or does it have to be the owners of the residence?

“Yes”. Is what John answered. “We used to have a lot of Halloween parties in the house and many people walked away with their own personal souvenir that night. “You have to remember that you will not get an answer each and every time. Sometimes you got through a whole roll before you can get an answer.” I had previously asked John about the types of cameras and the reactions to the phenomenon. He stated that throughout the years, it has progressed to digital as well.

BC says:

What changes, if any, have they noticed over time regarding the phenomena?

The only changes that John could really point out was the fact that his dog acts weird in a certain spot of the home. It’s been told to John that there is a “vortex” of some sort near the hallway. This was told to him by different psychics in the past. The strange thing is that John has owned several dogs in the past, but none displayed the actions of his current dog. “It’s as if he is afraid of a certain spot in the hallway. He will sit there, whine for a bit and act as he is about to leap over a pit or something.”  “He also sits and stares into thin air or certain places in the house”.

South Dakota Guy says:

Ask during the interview of “Wright” said anything about the afterlife, any new we need to know that wasn’t known.

Another question is about any future events that will cause concern for this world.

JEANNE says:

Well, I was pretty superficial in my first question for Wright.
Maybe a better question is what mankind can do to help in this time of (financial,economic)turmoil.

And if there is a “wright” out there that we can call on in our own lives.

John stated that Wright has not given any prophecies or warnings of any kind about the future. He does not really communicate in that manner. When I asked John about there being a “Wright out there that we can call on in our own lives?” he just said “Sure”.  One mus understand that neither John nor Peter James know anything about this phenomenon besides strange answers appearing on the polaroids.

I wanted to know a bit more about the house and John’s life before he discovered Wright and his abilities.

John told me about how his house could have caught fire two times in the past. In both of those instances, he saw the fire extinguish itself. Sort of like if they had a guardian angel  in the house.

“This one time, there were some wires that ran through the side of the house and onto the roof. With all the Pine needles from the Pine tree on the roof, there came a spark and they caught on fire quickly.” John saw the fire diminish quickly to a point where it just died out. No explanation was ever found for that.

In another instance, there were some extension cords running through a plank (I believe) that caught on fire. Suddenly with no human interaction the moves and the cords drop into a bucket with water. Call it luck or divine intervention.

“There was this time where I was sleeping and upon waking up, I saw an apparition.”   “All I could see where shoes, pants from from the knees down.”As soon as John fully got up, it was gone. There is also the fact that his neighbor has seen apparitions in the backyard. One day, his neighbor had asked John if he had seen that woman in a dress walking fast through the backyard. Almost as if she was running. Many other people have seen fast moving apparitions in his place. John himself has never really seen a full blown apparition, but has had a very personal thing happen to him.

“It was during a really bad time in my life.” “I was going through some personal shit… really bad.”  I sensed that whatever this personal turmoil John had gone through was quite devastating and he did not feel comfortable telling me about it. I did not press on for details.

“All I can say is that when I was taking a shower during this time in my life, there was the word “Don’t” written in the foggy mirror in the bathroom.”  “The strange thing is that it was written backwards. As if someone had written it from the other side of the mirror.”

I can sort of guess what John was going through when he told me that the ghost wrote “Don’t” in the mirror. Something dark indeed.

I quickly changed the subject and asked John, “Why do you feel that Sightings wronged you?”.

John tells me the story of what really went down.

He had seen an episode of the show and noticed that during the program, they ask: “If you have any photographs or videos of a ghost submit them to us”.

"What is your name?"

"What is your name?"

John thought that if he did, the show’s researchers and producers would help him figure out what was going on with his home. A few days after he submitted a couple of photographs, two producers show up at his home. They brought with them their own polaroid cameras and snapped a few shots while asking questions. John was pretty sure that they would not get anything their first time, but lo and behold out come a few answers from Wright. “This is the first time we got something real.” they said. They offered John some money for the story.

The Sightings crew brought in Peter James and did their taping. After it was all down and aired, no one from the show actually tried to help John figure out what was going on with his home. Except for Peter James. He stayed in contact with John and his roommate and visited them often.

In a way, John feels that by him reaching out to a television show for help has left him with a bad impression. He feels used.

One of the last questions I had for John was possibly the most controversial one and one that John was waiting for.

Joe Nickell, a writer for Skeptical Inquirer science magazine has often stated that the “Wright case” was a hoax. That someone with access to a photolab and some knowledge of photo development could create this so-called ghost polaroids.

More of this can be read here:

by Anson Kennedy

I told John that I came to the interview very open-minded. My purpose was to get his side of the story and report on that.

John appeared somewhat upset when I brought up Joe Nickell and that someone out there has replicated the ghostly polaroid writing in a lab. I have seen those pictures, and all I can say is that they do not resemble the “Wright polaroids”. The ones that were done in a lab are more rigid and straight as opposed tot he smokey ones that have depth and fluid motion to them. If they were faked, I don’t know how they were done.

Anyways, back to the story.

John says: “Yes anyone can fake these with a photolab and equipment, but the ones that we took were instant. There was no tampering of the film, no switching out of the film. The results were instant and in front of many witnesses.”  “What pisses me off about the skeptics is that no one, not ever, has contacted me to say that they would like to witness this phenomenon in real life.”

“Whoa!” I said. “So Joe Nickell and the person who recreated these pictures in the lab, have not contacted you or seen this for themselves?”

“Well, Joe Nickell did want to come and investigate this. But that was after the fact that he publicly stated that we were hoaxers.” “So I was not going to allow him in my home.”

Understandable. Why would someone from the Skeptical Inquirer not fully investigate a paranormal claim before calling it a hoax? It seems that what Joe Nickell did was shady and very “non scientific”. I know that there are those who seek answers and those who seek hoaxes. The difference between them is that the person seeking to bring out the hoaxers approaches the paranormal in a somewhat already made up mindset.

John was never contacted before hand to study the phenomenon, but clearly made out to be a hoaxer. “I would have loved if any one of those skeptics would have came in and did their investigation.” But the bottom line is that no one did.

John is now at peace with what resides in his home. He does not communicate with Wright as often as he did before. His feelings of this whole ordeal are past the point of initial excitement. He knows Wright is still in the home and living with him. He knows that by looking at his dog react.

I’ve contemplated this “ghost writing” phenomenon for years. Since watching that Sightings episode I’ve always wondered “What If?”

What if this was all real? What can we take from this? What if this was all fake? Can this be perceived as an experiment in sociology?

No matter how much I read into it, or how many times I talk with John. I still remain skeptical but very open-minded to the possibilities. After all, I’ve had my own paranormal experiences that I know most people would not believe. John told me that if he ever has a Halloween party, I’d be on the guest list.

I’m disappointed in the skeptics who straight up attacked John and the case, without even analyzing the phenomenon first hand. This is something that happens quite often and deters others from coming forward with their own stories.

“Seeing Things” exhibit is being displayed for the last time this Halloween. According to John, it will be a more technical exhibit, showing the audience the exact process they used to take the pictures and will also show a lot of the questions that went unanswered. The book can be viewed and purchased here

This is the last year the photos will be displayed. After the past few years of displaying them, John has gathered to much negative attention. Something he has dealt with before.