Let’s start right at the surface, the first appearance. Euclid imagined that the eye “casts a look”.  The rays of this look strike a screen.  The screen is the surface upon which the image will appear.  It may be static or it may move.  It may appear flat; it may appear to have depth. If it appears to have depth it will be the kind of depth Euclid understood to come from linear perspective.  Suppose the content of the image projected on the screen was of a shallow, superficial nature.  Would that, combined with the flatness of the screen, overcome the appearance of depth created by the linear perspective?

Looking at the screen one sees a flat surface with delineations and areas of color on it.  Looking through the screen one sees the likeness of a human face illuminated by a glow of red.One may select which perspective to adopt to see flatness or to see depth.

The first hologram I ever saw was for sale in a 7-Eleven store for seventy five cents.  The year was 1965, I was eleven years old and completely captivated by the seemingly magical object.  It was the image of a model human skull imbedded in a glass disk about the size of a half dollar and hung on the end of a cheap metal chain.  I was amazed by the three dimensionality and apparent depth of it not to mention a bit taken with the choice of subject matter.

Flash forward 30+ years.  My associates and I have taken on the project of making a hologram.  Starting from zero, with absolutely no knowledge (or interest for that matter) in how to make a hologram, we begin from scratch to make one.  We are making a hologram as part of a project to make a multi-media artwork that will in some sense itself be holographic. The term holography comes from the Greek, holos – whole and graphe – writing- writing the whole. In addition to making a decent transmission hologram an integral component of the project will be the creation of a record of every step in the process that could one day be presented on many screens simultaneously.  From purchasing the first materials through to the examination of the finished hologram and everything in between.  The goal will be to produce enough recorded information to be able to  ‘write the whole’- to describe the process at once and in all its facets and to do so in a three dimensional world that exists as millions of swimming dots on an assortment of flat- two dimensional, surfaces.  This aspect of the finished project would then in a sense mirror the isomorphism and flatness of the hologram and vice-versa.


Through reading I became aware of a ‘holographic’ theory of the universe that suggests: “…that our universe, which we perceive to have three spatial dimensions, might instead be “written” on a two-dimensional surface, like a hologram.”[1]  I do not understand the science behind this claim but what is interesting to me about the idea is that the surface might contains all there is and that the depth we perceive behind it is, like a hologram, made from the information contained on the surface.  “…the … holographic principle states that … the physical processes of the universe can be wholly described by the “screens” or surfaces through which the information is observed.”[2]  The surface we disparage with pejorative uses of terms such as ‘shallow’ or, ‘superficial’ is in fact the screen from which the world of ‘depth’ is actually made.  How many artists have done more than merely hope that the work they were about to undertake on a flat, two dimensional surface would actually ‘create’ a world.



There are many seemingly magical properties of holograms.  On the one hand the science behind them was considered important enough to earn its creator a Nobel Prize while on the other hand the manifestations of that science today are chiefly security markers and cheap novelties.  Holography exists at the high and low extremes of science and culture.

In the hologram we find an intersection of the abstract and the representational. What is actually recorded on the surface of the holographic film or plate is an abstract interference pattern.  By aiming diffused laser light through this abstract pattern a virtual image is produces that appears exactly like and in the same place in space as, the original subject used to make the hologram.

The information captured on the holographic film or plate is distributed over the entire surface in such a way that the image produced may be literally cut in half and each half of the hologram will still contain the whole image- each half cut in half- a quarter of the original, will still contain the whole image and on, we imagine, to infinity.

The philosophical (and mystical!) dichotomies of the One and the Many, parts and whole and high and low that we find in the technology and processes of holography show us a link between abstraction and realism.

Realism and abstraction seem to exist at opposing poles and yet in a hologram we find the simultaneous existence of both.  The realistic image found in a hologram is the result of an abstract interference pattern recorded on the surface of the plate or film.


In a very real sense holography accomplishes and consolidates the subject-less abstraction- the “all over” ness of a mature drip painting by Jackson Pollack, such as Lavender Mist: Number 1, 1950 in which the whole is echoed in the details and vise-versa, AND the photo-realistic self portraits of Chuck Close (actually reflection holograms) in which the coherent whole exists infinitely as itself in every tiny piece of the surface.[4]



In linear sequence, we started from scratch with no knowledge at all of the theory or practice of holography and worked our way through to the production of a reasonably clear hologram, but in presentation we break the sequence down into chunks that can be shown on multiple surfaces and in a more simultaneous fashion all at once.  This work is both spatially and temporally fractured in order to make it read as much as a pattern of images as it does as discreet documentary clips of the action.  It is simultaneously representational and abstract in parallel with its subject.  By echoing the structure of the holographic experience in the structure of the movie we attempt to start into motion a film that is what it shows what it is what it shows in an infinite loop.



[1] Jacob Bekerstein, Information in the holographic universe,Scientific American, August, 2002

[2] “Holography.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 1 Jan 2007, 10:55 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 2 Jan 2007

[3] I am not a scientist and make no claims, beyond those of an interested layman, to scientific knowledge.

[4] Closes work over the past 20 years has dealt with the relationship of the abstract and realist and pushed the limits of accuracy his grid could contain and still produce a recognizable image.