WAVEFRONT Issue Spring 1986



	Debate on the Arts


	From Nov. 8 through Nov. 30, 1985 the School of the Art Institute of
Chicago hosted an invitational exhibition called Holography, with about
30 works by artists from around the world. On the weekend of Nov. 8-9
the School also hosted a symposium featuring presentations by six

	Each artist was given the opportunity to exhibit work recently
shown at the i International Exhibition of Holography at Lake Forest
College or to send a piece of their own choosing. For logistical
reasons, many let us retain the works shown at Lake Forest. However,
many sent different works and these, combined with works from some
artists who did not participate in the Lake Forest show, gave this
exhibition a unique character.

	My objective was to create an exhibition which would survey some
major themes and forms that artists working in holography had employed
in their work, that would show where we as artists have come from and
where the future of holography as an art medium might be headed. A grant
from the Illinois Arts Council allowed us a valuable addition to the
exhibition - a symposium devoted to exploring some of the ideas as
presented by the artists themselves.

	One objective was the design of an exhibit which preserved each
work's integrity while allowing for the integration of all into a
cohesive body. This meant limiting the works to 25-30 in order to allow
sufficient space for each. The show was extremely well received by the
SAIC community and did much to raise awareness of holography as a unique
medium for artistic expression, as well as highlight the fact that
exploration of these possibilities is still in its infancy.

	One significant direction in art holography has been the concern
with sculptural integration and presentation and the extension of the
medium through interaction with other media. Sally Weber utilized a
corner of the gallery to create an installation of her transmission HOEs
which forced the viewer to explore different viewing positions and
heights in order to fully experience the potential of the work. The work
also explored the pure physical properties of the interaction of various
spectral hues at different viewing points.

	Other works representative of these ideas were Window II by Al
Razutis, Roto by Becky Deem and works by Michael Croydon and Wenyon &
Gamble. John Boesche combined reflection holograms of a casting of a
Louis Sullivan ornament with a slide projection of a quotation from
Sullivan's "A System of Architectural Ornament".

	The subject of collage, montage and assemblage, both of holography
with other media and on its own, was amply represented by works by
Setsuko Ishii, Fernando Catta-Preta, Anait Stephens, Sydney Dinsmore and
Doug Tyler, among others. Doris Vila's Those Were Your Words was an
example of the possibilities of layered film montage which expanded the
scale and broke the boundaries of conventional film formats. Nancy
Gorglione's large-scale reflection assemblage of 4x5 inch
color-controlled plates drew associations from several viewers of the
photographic work of Gilbert and George.

	Melissa Crenshaw's Levels With Light Blocks draws from the ideas
of collage and constructivism, but extends these with a masterful and
subtle use of color interrelationships. Dieter lung's Present Space and
Different Space utilize the unique color and spatial possibilities of
holography in such a way as to position them as signposts for the aesthetic future 
of the medium.

	The two day symposium on art and holography began with a
presentation by Sydney Dinsmore, director of Interference Hologram
Gallery in Toronto. Her talk focused on the history and philosophy of
Interference as a gallery devoted to the development of holography as an
art medium. Dinsmore discussed the gallery's interaction with its
audience and the art community in Toronto and presented documentation of
several of its exhibitions. She expressed her concern - echoed by many
in the holographic community - about events surrounding the Frankfurt
and Hamburg shows and the value of large international shows in general.

	Sally Weber's talk, entitled "Intention in Space: Architecture
and Holography", was a thorough discussion of her sources and
aspirations for the possibilities of holography on an architectural
scale. She developed concepts of space, light and form using many
ancient as well as contemporary examples of various architectural modes
worldwide. Examples of her own works dramatized her understanding of
these ideas and explained some of the challenges and problems inherent in trying to 
integrate holograms into an architectural context.

	Michael Sowdon, director of Fringe Research Holographics in Toronto,
started his presentation with a slide show which juxtaposed sources for
his work in holography and art with an audio tape on the art of moose
calling. After that comic relief, he chronicled the development of
Fringe Research, discussed his feelings on aesthetics and artists
working in holography, and spoke of his collaboration with Canadian
artist Michael Snow on Snow's holography exhibit for Expo '86 in
Vancouver this summer.

	Becky Deem described her background and inspiration for
her sculptural extensions of holography. Al Razutis closed Saturday's
session with an extension and conclusion to his "Art and Holography",
which appeared in Wavefront, Volume 1. Razutis refined his concepts from
the original article and offered a possible scenario for the development
and use of holography as an art form in a political context. On Sunday

	Fred Unterseher discussed his personal artistic development via
Ant Farm in the 1960s, culminating in demonstrations of perceptual
phenomena which supported his ideas regarding what many have termed

	The symposium closed with a panel discussion where the presenting
artists were joined by Dieter Jung, Doris Vila and myself. The panel was
a controversial and sometimes tense mixture of emotions and ideas, some
of which I think had been waiting for an opportunity to vent for some
time. Michael Sowdon attacked holocosmology, claiming the theory offered
little towards a true understanding of holography as art and that it
distanced holography from the other fine arts by placing it in a
privileged position. Other arguments regarding the issues of
international shows, the relationship between scientists and artists
working in holography and personal philosophical positions were
discussed in a session that lasted approximately 1 1/2 hours.

	Some significant insights came out of this weekend. First, the
time has come to stop focusing debate on the technical validity of holographic
artworks, or the artists that produce them. Most of us working in the
medium have acquired skills and a level of competency equal to the
challenge of the work we produce, or know of the resources we need for
either educational or production purposes. If an artist chooses to have
a technician produce the works that he or she conceives, there is no
reason to consider them any less valid, or to feel that the artist's
role as conceiver is any less powerful for not having made the work. The
most important challenge facing us at this point is the need to develop
the vehicles for understanding and evaluating the value of the works we
produce from an aesthetic foundation.

	It seems apparent to most of us who have worked in the medium
for some time that neither the large international group shows nor the
technical symposia held frequently are aiding the development of
holography as an art medium. It's obvious that the international shows
only heighten the image of holography as a technological novelty and are
being staged to generate profits for the organizers. Unfortunately, the
artists are not sharing in these profits in the degree to which their contributions 
to the success of these shows should entitle them. Michael Sowdon, in his paper, 
suggested that artists strive to show only in established art museums and galleries, 
a suggestion I strongly support.

	The recent technical symposia which have included and encouraged
artists to attend have also been disappointing in the amount of time
devoted to artistic issues and needs. There is a lot of talk about the
links between science and art, but precious few scientists seem ready to
engage themselves when it comes time for the artistic presentations at
such conferences.

	This is not to imply that all scientists
are not interested in the artistic development of holography; we
know that is not the case. But if a conference is offered with the
intention of devoting a significant amount of time to artistic issues,
than that time must be respected as being as fundamentally important to
the growth of holography as any technical or economic report might be.
If there is going to be an interchange between us, we both have to make
it happen.

	The artistic growth of holography is at a point where it deserves
and needs conferences at reasonable intervals devoted primarily to
artistic issues and needs. The weekend symposium only began to point
towards what we might be able to accomplish, given a week- long
conference devoted to lectures, critiques and exhibitions of

	The most personally rewarding moment of the entire weekend came
on Sunday afternoon when a number of us gathered in the gallery and
critiqued each other's work. I think we all had a sense of how much we
needed to be there with those works and how beneficial some extended
periods of time spent with them might be for all of us. I hope the
symposium was a start towards those goals.