The Peking Opera in Holograms

By Lynn McLanahan

The Museum of Holography, forum des Halles

We've all heard of holography, some have even seen a hologram, thanks to Notional Geographic and Walt Disney, but I had no idea how they were made, and I looked for­ward to learning a bit about this relatively new process. The mu­seum had a video running contin­uously that did its best to explain, but even though it was an Amer­ican production in English, I came away with only fragments of under­standing of the making of a hologram.
There were several different exhibits at the museum. One pre­sented holograms of the Peking Opera by Jean Mortes, which were interesting only because they were holograms: you could sec figures in Chinese costumes in the three dimensions, period. Another pre­sented rather banal subjects, such as wrenches, which incorporated more interesting colors and cap­italized on holographic qualities a bit more toward artistic expression. The objects appeared to be on the surface of the wall and the space around them appeared to recede into space, back into the wall, enhancing the illusion of objects floating in space. This created a tension, as I knew the objects were really in a picture hanging on the wall, not floating in space.
Wandering into the next dark room the viewer was invited to stand behind a row of 3D glasses and view slides projected on the front wall. Indeed, they looked three dimensional. Finally, there was a small room with examples of how some artists in France are incor­porating holograms into their work — predominantly in a small way and with collage.
My feeling as I left the Museum was that holography seems un­touched thus far by artistic hands. The process seems to carry with it many limitations both technical and financial, but once we get past those barriers and holography falls out of the hands of techies and into those of some adventuresome artists, great things could result.