WAVEFRONT Issue Summer 1985


	John Brooke 21 January 1985

	The "Artist-In-Residence-Project 1984" show at the Interference
Hologram Gallery in Toronto offers a selection of the pieces from the
"Canadian Holography Now" exhibition which toured Britain and Europe in
the summer and autumn of last year. Twelve pieces by eight artists are
presented, a diverse enough range of examples of the new medium to give
the viewer an opportunity of comparing, contrasting, and affording some
personal consideration to the question of the artistic validity of
holography. This question is an intriguing one, if not for the critics
who have passed their various judgments and now ignore the medium, then
at least for the general public and the artists involved.

	The experience of "viewing" a hologram offers the individual a
set of parameters that is unique from those inherent in the experiencing
of the other visual arts. To this member of the general public
holography seems to be mainly about the shaping of spaces: "metaphysical
spaces" to be more specific...environments that are directly related to
the ordering and description of feelings. This shaping is achieved, to a
more or a less successful degree. , by the placing of a figure, called
the CONTENT,within a FORM, the primary quality of which is the illusion
of three-dimensional space.

	The content of the hologram has to be the catalyst to any
imaginative conjecture, and this is perhaps where the "problem" with
holography begins. The holographic process requires that the figure to
be represented be placed in motionless, vacuum-like isolation.
Regardless of lighting, colour effects, or the nature of the figure
itself, the image that comes back in the finished hologram is informed
by a basic sense of motionless, vacuum-like isolation, and all
connotations vis-a vis the figure, be it a solitary object, collage,
tableau, or colour- plane, stem from that so apparently life-less point.

	The imagination thrives on two basic essentials: motion, and/or
inter-action with environment. Ostensibly, the content of the hologram
offers neither.

	The other element of the hologram is the form - the effect of
three dimensional space that is achieved, and this is where the
imagination of the viewer seems to focus after failing to make contact
with the figure, so literal and dead within. But this, in turn, begs the
consideration that while the three-dimensional effect may in itself be a
neat trick, with no perceptual bias attending it, "space" is empty.

	Yet the illusion presented by this form is so real; you can do
more than see this space, you can feel it. And if you can feel it, this
seems to suggest that you are in it. And if you are in it, then the
figure, although perhaps still motionless, is no longer isolated; and
neither is that part of the imagination which is sparked by inter-action
with environment lacking for stimulation.

	When you step in front of the holograms and "realize" that you
are a participant in it because of the effect of the form, then the
content is re-vivified and can work as a catalyst to an idea that can
contribute to understanding. Since form and content are connected in any
display of meaning, as you consider the content of the hologram, which
is the figure, you also, perforce, begin to deal with the form by
ascribing connotations to the "space" you feel yourself a part of. As
you order these connotations into a description you begin to address the
question, "what is the effect of the effect?", and it is within this
context that the "art" of the hologram can be sensed and evaluated.

	Claudette Abrams' "Untitled" piece, which depicts a revolver seeming
to hover in front of you suspended in a red-orange sphere, evokes the
sense of what could be called "theatrical space". A theatrical space is
built around theatrics - artifice that is acoutrement for the senses. In the theatre there is usually an
element of action and speech to go with the strictly visual element
which the hologram offers, and the sense of being in that particular
place of exaggerated encounter. With the hologram you are not
experiencing a complete play, but rather, only one prop or character in
a moment of exaggerated encounter. And where the prop or character at
the theatre has specific reference to the content of the play which you
feel and participate in as a member of the audience, within the isolated
spatial moment of the hologram, you become the "player" and the figure
in the hologram becomes a metaphor for whatever connotations your
experience and/or imagination might bring to it.

	The same basic effect of theatrical space surrounds and defines
two other pie ces in the show. Michael Sowdon's "Zombie Study #3 and #5"
depicts a comic book-like visage. The holographic effect makes him
"empty-headed" save for the tow red sparks which glow malevolently out
from the space behind his non-eyes. The effect evokes another
exaggerated encounter as you are drawn into the very human reaction of
meeting those empty eyes and looking past them, attempting to fathom the
space behind.

	Chris MacGee's "Fragment 17" is framed by a colourful, splintered
sculpture of a shattered window frame and section of a ruined wall: an
interior. Stepping up to it you enter a specific setting. Then you peer
through the window and "out" via the holographic effect to the image, a
model which is the depiction of more shattered living space...the house
across the street, perhaps. The design of the piece compels the viewer to 
inside this environment of cataclysmic destruction and so consider it in
and intensely subjective manner.

	With these three holograms as examples it is apparent that the shaping of a "theatrical 
space" is contingent upon a catalyst that holds the potential for intense and specific 
connotation: the revolver, the zombie's
face, the apocalyptic scene. In terms of theme, each of these risk falling
into complete cliche. Success depends on the artful handling of form, the
creation of a clearly defined environment, the entering of which sparks
fresh inter-action and conjecture.

	Other holograms in the show deal with more subtle themes and the
spaces they create vary accordingly. "Stress Topography," the three
colour fields by AL Razutis, offers an effect that is akin to the one
you feel when you look at a landscape on a wall, or, better, stand on
the boundary of a real one. It has to do with looking to the farthest
visible point and then sensing beyond. These three holograms are, in a
way, truer in their evocation of that feeling than landscape art because
the darkness surrounding the planes of colour give a natural sense of
the interior where psyche hides, and the holographic effect puts you
just inside the edge of a dark, unlimited distance. Being in a place
where you sense the ineffable: the effect is one of a "religious space".

	Sydney Dinsmore's trio of holograms collectively entitled "Dance"
create the effect of a space with joyful, communal connotations. Each of
the pieces depicts tow figures - dancers - rendered in the abstract,
caught in a blur of motion. (This in itself gives the figure imaginative
life, and is an interesting and encouraging departure from the literal
objects and models generally used in holographic representation.) Two
glass rods placed vertically in the scene, and at different places
relative to the dancers with each piece, become, within the holographic
effect a part of the architectural apparatus inside a large room or
hall. The spatial involvement, as you move by the three pieces, is
similar to that of a POV shot, always observing the dancers, moving
"through" this party environment.

	The most demanding of the works is the show are the three pieces
by Therese Bolliger,jointly entitled "Access". Bolliger's theme is
architecture. Each piece depicts a wooden toy-like figure of a
"building" placed on a burlap based "landscape" that resembles the
landscapes which surround architectural models. Like architectural
models, these pieces are clearly miniatures in all their aspects, and the
viewer comes to them sensing that he is caught between possession and
anticipation between entering into the miniature space or remaining
outside. The final implication of the piece seems to be concerned with
the manipulation inherent in the creative activity, or, more to the
point, the creative perspective; the poetics of Bolliger's piece seem to
say that although there is always "access" to space,! its parameters
cannot really be known until it is entered - and to - enter it, you cannot be bigger 
than it.

	Three pieces in the show are not effective. Eldon Garnet's piece
entitled "Luit" is apparently an "allegorical photo work". It depicts
a tableau with three figures in silhouette and the word "Lust" hanging
in the air above them. The theme is obvious, as it usually is in an
allegory, and a thematic statement can be inferred from the visuals. But
the spatial connotations are vague. The holographic effect, as it works
in the piece, does not display much space, and what little is there to
be "felt" is caught between the theme of lust and the concept of
allegory. The form is not clearly defined with regard to the content.