Matthew Kurtyka is a senior entertainment and arts management student with a minor in business administration. Kurtyka is the president of the Drexel Paranormal Investigation Group, which he founded in 2012.
The Triangle: Tell us about yourself! What do you do when you’re not chasing spooks? What got you into crawling through cobwebbed houses and slipping on ectoplasm?
Mat Kurtyka: When I’m not investigating the paranormal, which is most of the time, I am wrapped up in schoolwork, playing music, drawing, hiking or researching alternative sciences, the human consciousness or politics. I’ve always had an interest in the unknown and one thing led to another.
TT: If I was a student walking through activities unlimited, pitch your club to me like you’d pitch to them.
MK: If you were a student walking through activities unlimited, I’d greet you with a welcoming smile, ask if you had an open mind and ask if you like to adventure. I’d ask someone if they believe in ghosts, but I don’t think that matters. We have members that believe, those who don’t and others who haven’t made up their minds. I always emphasize the aspects of adventure, technology and historical learning before I question someone on their beliefs on the paranormal.
TT: How does your club work? How did you pitch this to Drexel to become recognized?
MK: Our organization works similar to most other organizations at Drexel. Students are able to sign up via DragonLink and receive all information regarding events and investigations. When pitching this to Drexel, I emphasized student involvement from all backgrounds. We learn about the history of visited locations, the technology used to investigate, network and plan events, and explore.
TT: What do you guys do?
MK: Our organization plans events and conducts investigations around Philadelphia. For those interested in investigating, we contact the owner of any suspected haunted location, set a date, arrive around sunset, set up our equipment, conduct interviews, and record visual and audio data throughout the night. Afterwards, we review our data in search of any interesting evidence.
TT: What’s the spookiest place you’ve been to? What was the lore about it? What was the scariest part about it?
MK: The spookiest place we’ve been to was the Pennhurst State School and Hospital. Pennhurst is an abandoned complex of buildings, each of which served a specific purpose. We were in the Mayflower building, which housed children. There are a lot of upsetting stories to be shared about the Mayflower building, as many children were neglected and treated poorly.
TT: Is Halloween the paranormal peak season so to speak?
MK: Personally, I believe any time of year is peak paranormal season. It seems that the folklore of Halloween itself is what draws in the spooky stories and events, but the paranormal is there all year round.
TT: If you’d want to haunt a place, where would you haunt and why would you haunt them?
MK: If I wanted to haunt a place, I think it would be fun to reside in the White House or Capitol building, mostly because I would enjoy spooking politicians and visitors.
TT: Do you believe in ghosts? What do you think ghosts are? How do you think we could communicate or detect them?
MK: I do believe in ghosts and many people lack the understanding of what “ghosts” actually are, so let me attempt to explain this to the best of my ability. We are not limited to our physical bodies. We are made up of infinite layers of energy, existing beyond the physical body. The human aura is comprised of these layers, storing information, containing the “soul.” Yes, the energy around us is real, it has been proven by scientists and it has been measured using a superconducting quantum interference device. When one lives through a traumatizing event or a harm-giving lifestyle, occasionally the “spirit” or “soul” refuses to move onward upon death. In this case, the soul, which once inhabited a physical body on this earth, remains present even though the body has perished.
The reason we cannot see these entities is because our human senses are not attuned to frequencies beyond the visible and audible spectrum. This is why electromagnetic frequency meters and thermal detectors are used in attempt to detect these entities. There are folks who have researched channeling, heightened-sense perception, or reached deep meditative states, who have attuned themselves to alternate frequencies, resulting in contact with entities. With remote viewing and extension neurosensing scientists and researchers have yielded fascinating results. Remote viewing was used by individuals in the government and now is being used by scientists.
The ridicule of the paranormal will always exist amongst those who haven’t taken the time to understand such phenomena. For some reason we are likely to believe one article that discredits the paranormal, even after we’ve read 100 or so articles providing evidence in the paranormal. We always tend to believe what we want to believe.
(For more information on the afterlife, Michael Newton has some extremely interesting findings. He’s conducted over 7,000 regression therapies and determined the series of events that takes place after death based off decades of extensive research.)
TT: If you were part of any supernatural or paranormal investigation team, which one would you be a part of and why (i.e. the “Scooby-Doo” Gang, “The X-Files” team, “Ghostbusters,” etc.)?
MK: If I were a part of a paranormal investigation team, I would choose the “Scooby-Doo” gang. Those guys always seem to go on the craziest adventures; they drive the coolest van, eat pizza all the time and have Scooby on their team!
TT: Do you believe in any other supernatural forces other than ghosts?
MK: I believe in a handful of these “supernatural” forces, including extra-terrestrials, inter-dimensional entities and negative entities. It’s important to understand that we are not the only beings in the universe and that there is countless evidence that supports the existence of other forms of intelligent life.
TT: What’s your favorite paranormal lore? In Philadelphia? In the world?
MK: My favorite paranormal lore in Philadelphia would be the Philadelphia Experiment, if that counts as paranormal. This was a military experiment involving naval ship USS Eldridge. The crew had been experimenting with advanced technologies, and supposedly teleported this ship from Philadelphia to Norfolk, [Virginia]. The ship returned to Philadelphia with crew members frozen and disfigured. This experiment has been denied by the military but some have spoken out about this event on and off the record.
I really find all paranormal lore interesting, due to the fact that each instance has its own unique story and circumstance. I wouldn’t say that I have on particular favorite piece of paranormal lore, but I am fascinated by all of the stories associated with Gettysburg, [Pennsylvania].
TT: If someone asks you if you are a god, what’s your answer?
MK: If someone asked me if I was a god, I would say we are all “gods” depending on what you define as a god. As common as religion is, I think many of us are beginning to question our own beliefs versus what we have been taught as children. If god is defined as a creator, then I say yes, we are all creators. Down to the sub-quantum level, we are all comprised of energy, everything with a consciousness. Does this mean we label something as “god” after watching it perform something that we cannot do? We rely too much on “something else” rather than ourselves. I believe everything is connected on a sub-quantum and cosmic level of consciousness, and science and spirituality is beginning to prove this for the first time in centuries.
TT: Is “Luigi’s Mansion” your favorite video game?
MK: I’ve played bits and pieces of “Luigi’s Mansion.” Nothing against Luigi, but I would say “Super Smash Bros.” take the lead when it comes to favorite video game. Luigi’s in “Super Smash Bros.” if that counts!
TT: Do you ever get tired of “Ghostbuster” references?
MK: I’ve heard my fair share of “Ghostbuster” references and wouldn’t say that I get tired of them. I’m a big fan of Bill Murray, and the movie is a great common ground that always generates some good laughs.
TT: How do people generally react when you tell them that you investigate the paranormal? What are some of the most memorable reactions you’ve ever gotten?
MK: Although I can’t remember any specific reactions from telling people I investigate the paranormal, I’d say the vast majority of folks find it interesting and adventurous. For those who chuckle at the idea, I encourage them to broaden their horizon of possibility, as this is what often holds people back from realizing what they are.
TT: How do you feel about shows like “Ghost Hunters”? How accurate of a representation are they?
MK: I don’t watch too many of these shows simply because these programs have to make good TV. I was a bigger “Paranormal State” fan than I was of [The Atlantic Paranormal Society] and “Ghost Hunters.” I think a lot depends on the content, and I normally don’t regard any group as professional when they chitchat and provoke the entire episode. These guys do use top of the line equipment though but I don’t always agree with their methods and investigation tactics.
TT: The group’s initials are PIG. What is the story behind that?
MK: Ever since high school I told myself I would start a paranormal investigation group. I’ve always thought the acronym PIG was too good not to use!
TT: If you could meet the ghost of a person, who would it be? Why?
MK: If I could contact someone who has passed, it would be difficult to choose one specific person. I’d have a hard time choosing between [John F. Kennedy], Gandhi, Nikola Tesla or Leonardo da Vinci. I figure these guys would have fascinating things to say about mankind, technology, politics and more.
TT: How do you feel about the portrayal of paranormal phenomena in movies such as “Ghostbusters,” “Paranormal Activity,” etc.?
MK: The portrayal of paranormal phenomena is interesting in my eyes. You have many movies that poke fun or parody the idea of the paranormal. I love the Halloween and paranormal theme but I find that scary movies are becoming less and less frightening. “Goosebumps” will forever be my favorite “paranormal show” and it may even be the root of my interests in the paranormal world.