I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the split that is happening within holographic technology.
We have come to a fork in the road. Analogue Holograms (the kind that are made from physical objects using lasers) are what we began with in the early 1960’s and they continue to evolve (examples of this evolution can be seen in the convincing full color holograms of rare and precious objects in museums and the work of fine artists who continue to experiment with the medium) but digital holograms open up a different realm. In this digital realm we are seemingly only limited by our imaginations and our skills with very sophisticated software. The artists with those skills are now working all over the world - a large percentage of whom are employed in the global film industry.
I said that we are seemingly only limited by our imaginations because I believe that to create amazing digital holograms you have to first understand what analogue holograms are and their unique properties. Only then can you create content that will go beyond being hard copy of a 3D animation and be a great digital hologram.
To address that fork in the road...... on the one side of the fork there are analogue holographers who largely started working in an era that was pre digital and many have not made the leap into that 3D digital world. Many do not have skills in 3D animation, special effects, and the broad spectrum of computer graphics but they do have vast skills in visualizing complex and sophisticated dimensional images from multiple exposure techniques, unique properties of optical holograms and chemical processing techniques (to name a few). These are very sophisticated artists with highly developed skills. On the other side of the fork there is a lack of CG artists working in the digital realm because most know nothing about holography, in either analogue or digital form.
So right now we have analogue holographic artists with no access to creating digital holograms because of lack of digital skills and 3D animators who do have the capability to create content but have no knowledge of either analogue or digital holography and are thus not doing it either. There are a handful of holographic artists who have crossed the digital divide and a few CG Artists who have stepped into the holographic world but we need to build bridges across that gap and link those two paths.
I just read Marty Shindler’s piece on his blog “The Shindler Perspective” titled Bracing for Correction at http://bit.ly/15sMmqc. In it he predicts a coming contraction in the movie business that he feels will impact all levels of employment within the industry. He advises anyone in the movie industry to be planning now for new directions and be prepared when the contraction happens. I think that it’s time for some of you CG artists to look further afield and to embrace some new technology. Digital Holography is crying out for experimental creativity, a whole new technology is beginning to open up and is waiting for good content. Take his advice and don’t wait for the correction to happen, be proactive and look for new ways of working. Try making some Digital Holograms, learn about the many ways of imaging them and explore the evolving new markets for dimensional images.
I would like to invite you to learn about Analogue and Digital Holography through my online course and make two of your own holograms each at a different facility. Read about it in my previous blog or contact me directly for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In parallel with this blog I am developing an online course for artists with skills in 3D animation, Video, After Effects and Photoshop. From time to time I will post information about ongoing and new offerings that I am developing for artists and the general public who might want to learn more about this medium. Teaching online makes this information available anywhere in the world - I hope that some of you will join me for these events.
Creating Holograms from Digital Content
A unique, practical, online course that teaches the range of current Holographic image making possibilities. This eight session course reviews the wide range of existing holographic art, demonstrates methods of creating holographic images, and facilitates the creation of content in this unique format.
Linda Law is a digital / holographic artist who has been working with holography since 1975. In her long career in this extraordinary medium she has worked in holographic research (Assistant Director of the Center for Optics, Lasers and Holography at NYIT from 1981-86 working closely with NYIT’s Computer Graphics Lab), as the curator for the New York Museum of Holography, and as an independent curator of many exhibitions of holographic art. Linda has more than 15 years experience as a teaching artist and educator in holography, she has worked as a 3D animator producing content for digital holograms for Simian Technologies Inc., and is the Founding Director of the Center for 4D Arts (a not-for-profit designed to provide access for artists to facilities for creating multi-dimensional art).
Who should take this course?
Artists, Designers, 3D Animators, Video Artists and professionals with skills in 3D animation software, CAD, After Effects, Video shooting and editing and Photoshop.
Experience in any 3D modelling or CAD program, although experience with Maya will be an asset. Video shooting and editing expertise as well as knowledge of After Effects are an alternate skill set for creating content. Photoshop skills are also an asset. Competency in English is required.
Where will this be taught?
Online through teleconferencing. Classes will be small, maximum 6.
This is a Summer Course beginning at the end of July/beginning of August. Dates and times to be decided depending on the time zones of the students taking the class. Based in NY, Linda will accommodate students from Europe and the West Coast. Students from other parts of the world are welcome to join but may have to participate at odd hours. Further courses will be offered in the future.
8 session course will be offered for $2,000 with a $500 processing fee for the two, 8” x 10” holograms to be created via two different facilities as a part of the course. Shipping charges for the holograms will be additional.
What will be achieved by taking this course?
The goal of this course is to give you a solid foundation in the various techniques of creating holograms and enable you to create content for holograms through 3D animation, video, CG effects and photography.
You will gain an extensive grounding in the many types of holograms (including analogue and digital), their properties, how they are made and an overview of the history of this unique medium. All sessions will include examples of holographic art created by artists from around the world.
With this grounding in place you will learn the various systems currently available globally that have capacity to output digital data as holograms. Each system will be examined in depth and examples will be shown of what is possible. I have negotiated a special rate with two facilities allowing each student to produce two 8”x10” holograms, one from each of these facilities. You will learn how to prepare data for a number of facilities that offer different processes.
Completion of the course will permit you to join an ongoing online discussion group that will meet on a monthly basis to discuss projects, problem solve and share newly created holograms.
Dr. Gabor receiving his Nobel Prize
I constantly hear people new to holography using the term holographs. It’s a logical conclusion to make considering the medium is known as holography, but holograph has a very different meaning and a part of the initiation into this medium is to understand that difference.
The word hologram was coined by the inventor of Holography, Dr. Dennis Gabor, a Hungarian born scientist living and working in the UK. The word is derived from the Greek words “holo” meaning whole and “gram” meaning message - the Whole Message. That’s the important piece to grasp about holograms, they contain another level of information that goes beyond photography, they contain information about the phase of the light that is used to record them.
To further clarify things there is something known as a holograph, the dictionary gave me the following definition
"holograph |ˈhäləˌgraf, ˈhōlə-|
a manuscript handwritten by the person named as its author: [ as modifier ] : a holograph letter by Abraham Lincoln.
ORIGIN early 17th cent.: from French holographe, or via late Latin from Greek holographos, from holos ‘whole’ + -graphos ‘written, writing."
The definition of a hologram is that it is a recording of a three dimensional image by exposing an interference pattern of light onto a photosensitive medium - a very different kettle of fish.
Dr. Gabor developed the basic theory that underlies holography around 1947 but it wasn’t until the development of the first lasers in the early 60’s that holograms (as we know them) became possible because the laser is necessary to generate that interference pattern of light. He received a Nobel Prize for his work in 1971.
Now that you understand the term “hologram” - I’ve often speculated as to why the medium became known as “holography”. If you start with the term hologram, it’s a lot easier to talk about holography than about hologrametry or hologramy or even hologrametrics...... ;-)
Hologram by Dieter Jung
Holographic Art, although being made by artists in locations around the world, is difficult to find in most art museums and galleries. During the late 70’s and most of the 80’s there were many exhibitions of holography happening all around the world, but in recent years they have been a little thin on the ground.
Recently I have begun to see a shift. It began last summer with the New Museum in New York which presented a show of holograms created by established artists. Although it mostly reflected works by artists who were known for working in other media and it didn’t include works of contemporary holographic artists it was an important step. This summer, James Turrell (who was the one artist in the New Museum show who has sort of embraced holography) has 3 major retrospectives, (the Guggenheim, LACMA and Houston Museum of Art) which include his holograms. ZKM - Center for Art and Media, in Karlsruhe, Germany, has just opened a show of holograms from their permanent collection which contains some important works from holographic artists such as Margaret Benyon, Harriet Casdin-Silver, Anait Stephens, Rudie Berkhout, Sam Moree, Dan Schweitzer, Brigitte Burghmer, and Dieter Jung. Their curator, Bernhard Serehxe, describes holography as “a successful, comprehensive spatial representation of objects and structures, which in their potential application, extend far beyond classical photography.” While I agree with him that as a medium holography extends far beyond photography I think he hugely under values this medium by viewing it as a spatial representation of objects and structures.
While “Analogue Holography” may appear to be a technique for recording physical objects with laser light, you will find that many holographic artists have transcended this seeming limitation and have gone far into the realms of abstraction, the realm of pure light and into totally new realms that only holography can make possible. With multiple exposures, techniques for changing colors with chemicals, and optical techniques that produce unique effects there are a host of ways to go far beyond being a technique for spatial representation. Likewise with the possibility of creating content digitally the door is wide open for an infinite range of possibilities.
I will digress a moment to briefly address the evolution of holographic art from it’s roots in analogue holography to what is evolving today in the holographic digital realm. In the 60’s artists began to make holograms with lasers, optics and complex vibration isolation systems that were needed to just make basic recordings. These systems became increasingly sophisticated and challenging to work with. A core of dedicated artists persisted and evolved some extraordinary work but in the 90’s the lack of supply of special holographic film (caused by the major manufacturers - Kodak, Agfa, Ilford, Fuji and Polaroid - dropping out because of the lack of a mass market) forced many of these artists to stop working. During the 90’s we also saw the development of a number of systems for creating holograms from digital content. These systems are highly sophisticated and still use special holographic film as in analogue holography but they are essentially printers that can create holograms from digital content. The financial instability of these new companies, and the high cost of production in these early years coupled with a digital divide for many of the artists already working in analogue holography (but with few skills in the realm of 3D animation and computer graphics) made this a difficult medium to access.
Right now I feel that we are on the brink of a shift. There are many artists with skills in 3D animation and others with experience working in video and stereoscopic 3D. There are also a number of more stable companies out there who are now offering digital output to holograms with carefully prepared data for a range of sizes, styles and types of holograms. The missing link is gaining the knowledge about analogue holography (which I believe is essential for artists with CG skills entering this new medium) and the specifics of preparing data for each of these different digital holographic systems.
In the analogue realm we are also seeing a resurgence of new small businesses who are supplying high quality holographic film - new, fine grain panchromatic emulsions that permit full color holographic recordings. There has also been a revolution in laser technology with the development of tiny diode lasers at vastly reduced prices. During all this time (since the early 90’s) a core of artists have continued to work despite the difficulties and we have a small community of artists with highly sophisticated skills in analogue holography that are producing extraordinary work.
Some of this work is beginning to surface. Right now there is a small show of holographic art as a part of a mixed media show, “Light As Art” at the Ann Street Gallery in Newburgh, NY. Last summer there was a show in Scotland, of work by the Royal College of Art’s students of holography, 'Holography Unit (Royal College of Art 1985 - '94)'- shown at Glue Factory, Glasgow, 14th September - 6th October 2012. This was a retrospective of the holograms that were produced at the RCA from 85-94 in the now defunct Holography Unit. Opening July 24th there is a retrospective of the holographic work of Georges Dyens, at the Centre d’exposition de Repentigny, Quebec, and we have another show of the work of 17 artists 'Interference:Coexistence' that will run September 4-28 at the Queens Clocktower in Long Island City curated by Dr Martina Mrongovius (Holocenter, New York / Academy of Media Arts, Cologne).
It is my hope that these new shows will open the eyes of artists and the art world to this whole realm of creative expression that offers so much potential for images of our time. Holography is a new visual medium for artists to express the ideas that are surfacing in this rapidly changing world. Holography permits the expression of ideas that challenge our concepts of Time and Space, of how everything is interconnected, how dimensions can intersect, and where we fit in the infinite complexities of life in our universe. As artists we are just beginning to learn how to work in this totally incredible medium and as viewers of art we are also just beginning to learn how to look deeply into this revolutionary dimensional art form.
Having witnessed for many years the struggle of Holography to gain acceptance as a new medium for creative expression I have come to a point in my life where it seems imperative to me to open a discussion amongst artists and the art world regarding the swirling mystery of why this medium is still not accepted as being the truly amazing medium that I (and many others quietly working away) see it as.
OK - I am one of a small group that are already converted and having explored this medium from many of it’s infinite perspectives for over 35 years I am ready and willing to step up to the plate and stir things up a bit. Let’s talk about this - why is there so much mis-information, why have the critics been so harsh, what is it about this medium that causes so much excitement in it’s viewers but so much scorn from the critics? I know that this is a very technologically challenging medium but so was photography to begin with. It took a long while for photography to gain acceptance as an art medium but do we have to do that again? Can’t we learn more quickly this time and move beyond the limitations of vision that stopped many people from seeing the subtlety of expression that photography was capable of delivering?
Holographic art has it’s own history, a story that deserves to be told. This blog will be a place to learn about that. It will also be a place to learn about artists who are working with it today, a place to learn about where the facilities are to make holographic art and a place to discuss the unique properties that make it so compelling to those who have chosen to work with it. What is it that they feel this medium so uniquely offers them? Why do they struggle on when it would be so much easier to work in video or digital photography? What makes them so passionate about this medium?
I open this up for discussion about all aspects of creativity in holography and to a certain extent I may also diverge a little from time to time to discuss lenticular images and stereoscopic filmmaking for artists. As this is my own blog it will follow my whim. This will not be a forum for discussing the technical aspects of holography, there are other forums for that. This is a place to discuss art and creativity. However, from time to time I may offer some technical information for the benefit of artists that I hope will clarify some of the many misconceptions about this medium and perhaps provide a foundation of knowledge that might be a useful reference for anyone seeking to work creatively in this medium.
Most of all I hope that these words stir up some individuals to go out and see for themselves what this medium can do.