Future Cinema

Course Site for Future Cinema 1 (and sometimes Future Cinema 2: Applied Theory) at York University, Canada

Oral Presentation Summary – Week 3: Virtual reality (Sarah Stang)

Here is the written summary for my presentation on Kac’s article. I’ve provided links to some of the holographic art (they were difficult to find, but I managed to hunt down a few). Questions are at the end.

Eduardo Kac – Beyond the Spatial Paradigm: Time and Cinematic Form in Holographic Art (1995)

-At the time of writing, holography and holographic art was not well understood and one of the most common misconceptions about it was the notion that the point was to produce a kind of illusory 3-D photograph. The author claims that this misconception is grounded on unfulfilled expectations and comparisons to other media.

-The goal of the paper is to dispel these misconceptions by demonstrating that the holographic aesthetic experience is much more complex and is actually a time-based medium. He also shows the ways holography has been explored as a time-based medium by artists.

–> Kac is focusing on time in a medium traditionally known for its spatial properties in the hopes of leading to greater appreciation for the artistic potential of holographic art

-The author cites Gene Youngblood as listing holography among the media through which cinema can be practiced because it seems that he understood holography as a time-based medium as well. Kac points out that time is manifested in holographic art not only as streams of images, but also as suspended clusters and discontinuous structures

-So what is this holographic art? As practiced by a small but increasing number of artists around the world, art holography emphasizes changes and transformations – time, in other words – as an aesthetic feature as important as the three dimensions of space. Created with computers or not, motion-based holograms become interactive events that can be perceived in any direction, forward or backward, fast or slow, depending on the relative position and speed of the viewer. Unlike the unidirectional “event-stream” of film and music, four-dimensional holograms are “buoyant events” with no beginning or end. The viewer can start looking at any point.

-Many holograms and holographic installations created today involve electronic image manipulation and digital synthesis, and draw from other artistic fields, such as photography, film, and video. These works explore time in unique ways and reveal a very important aspect of the medium

-He makes an important distinction between holographic art and holograms created by scientists or for commercial purposes. These holograms are mostly motionless, or have very limited motion, because their images usually aim at reproducing a virtual environment or object. These holographers use computers to generate these stationary virtual objects and therefore emphasize space over time and volume over movement

-Kac briefly discusses the ways in which painting’s desire to capture truth led to photography and cinema and eventually video. He points out that the development of photography forced painters to redefine the direction of their medium away from simply the recreation of reality and that computers are having a similar impact on photography today.

–> How does holography fit in this context? Holograms are already routinely synthesized from secondary sources, including silver photography, video, film, sensing devices, and computer graphics.

-American artist and holographer Dean Randazzo has used computers, video, film and photographic techniques to create complex holographic artworks of distinct beauty. Randazzo unites highly personal imagery to a sharp technical sensibility, layering images that define their space by an intricate kinetic articulation of light. Each piece is a paradigm of photographic and cinematographic records of family events clearly defined in time. Many of the old original negatives, prints and film footage that Randazzo manipulates are in a state of decay, suggesting the symbolic dissolution of memory.

-Randazzo’s typical working method starts with selecting images fixed in the past by means of light. He then manipulates these faint images with other photographic processes, sometimes with film editing or computer techniques. The resulting images are finally manipulated holographically and become propagating light again:


-Another interesting style of holographic work controls light in motion without referential subject matter (Rudie Berkhout, Paul Newman, and Vito Orazem)

-Berkhout is interested in the delicate manipulations of fluid images:


-Newman focuses on the unique properties of pure light itself by experimenting with passing laser light through arrangements of lenses, glass, and other materials:


-Vito Orazem also searches for an aesthetics of light in motion, working with Thomas Luck to create Holographic Optical
Elements (holograms used to act as a lens or mirror instead of displaying a picture):



-Holographic cinematography can trace its roots back to the 1960s and the experiments involving pulsed lasers used to record moving images. There were very few of these created for non-scientific purposes, however. The author describes the work of researchers at the Experimental Cinema Laboratory in Paris, holographic sculptor Alexander, and Lloyd Cross’ work with integral holograms:


-There was also some research done in Moscow and Japan in holocinema and at MIT to develop holographic video, though state of the field at the time of writing was not very encouraging.

-Kac is certain that holography will eventually be accepted as another artist’s tool along with painting, sculpture, photography, and video though he is unsure what will become of holographic cinema

1) Grau discusses the history of the desire to create illusory visual experiences and how this drove the development of the panorama, film, 3-D film, 360 degree film, IMAX, and VR. How do holograms fit into this history? Are they just one of the many things Gene Youngblood listed off as elements of an “Expanded Cinema” or does it have a unique place?

2) This article was written in 1995 and Kac expresses his dismay at holography’s limited status and his hopes for its importance in the future. Twenty years later what can we say about the place of holography in contemporary art?

3)I will admit that most of what I knew about holography before reading this article was regarding optical security processes, such as holographic features in banknotes. What are your thoughts on holography as art versus holography as security? Is there a relation there or is it simply a coincidence? Is this why holograms aren’t that popular as art forms? Does this have to do with stationary vs. time-based holograms?

4) We saw many interesting examples of ways in which virtual reality, 360 degree cinema, and video games can challenge society’s assumptions, explore difficult or painful concepts, and influence the way people think. Does holography fit among these noble aims? Could it be possible for this generally experimental art form to reach people in the way that Clouds Over Sidra has?

Mon, September 28 2015 » Future Cinema 2, assignments, seminar summaries, virtual reality