Luminous Windows

Winter 2009

Throughout the winter, from dusk until 2 a.m. the MIT Museum presents an exhibition of contemporary, 3-D holographic artworks displayed in the windows viewable only from outside the Mark Epstein Innovation Gallery, on the street and sidewalks of Massachusetts Avenue. Featured will be works by six international artists whose varied imagery represents artistic and technical advancements in the field of display holography.

ANN by Paula Dawson

Paula Dawson (Sydney, Australia) is an artist and associate professor of fine arts at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. Dawson is one of the foremost holographic artists, and has specialized in creating many of the world’s largest laser transmission holograms. She has held residencies at the Laboratoire de Physique et Optique Besancon, France, RMIT applied Physics Dept. Melbourne Australia, the Holocenter New York ,and the Center for Advanced Visual Studies MIT, Cambridge MA. Her first major holographic work, There’s No Place Like Home (1980) is in collection of the National Gallery of Australia.

Dawson’s PhD thesis covers the technical and aesthetic issues of her art and her practice with laser transmission holograms of real objects over two decades. In recent years Dawson has drawn on pictorial agents of early figurative Italian art which she has transposed to synthetically computer generated, real holograms, paintings, drawings, and bronze castings.

Dawson’s contribution to the Luminous Windows exhibition at the MIT Museum is titled ANN, an original holographic portrait of Dr. Ann Lewis a collector, philanthropist, and the former director of Sydney's Gallery A.

The process of creating the portrait included visits with Dr. Lewis in her home to identify the imagery Dawson would access as she built a layered and personal portrait that paid homage to a woman who changed the artistic landscape of Australia with her vision, and her commitment to contemporary art. Dawson says of the portrait, “the work employs formal compositional devices, imagery and pictorial qualities intrinsic to holographic stereograms which will enable the viewer to understand Ann in a unique way, through the vivid changing colours she loves, her way of seeing, and the view the world has of her.”

Insights by Michael Bleyenberg

Michael Bleyenberg (b. Duisburg, Germany) studied art at the Academy of Fine Arts Düsseldorf/Munster, and the Academy of Fine Arts Braunschweig, Germany. Trained as a painter, Bleyenberg eventually replaced his brushes and canvas with lasers and computers and works almost exclusively with the medium of light. Bleyenberg describes his unique use of light as a way to combine and discuss two prevailing “field forces” of light and space in art, as well as in architecture. He focuses on building applications such as light facades or light sculptures that form a display that connects the interior and exterior environments in an architectural space.

Bleyenberg’s contribution to the Luminous Windows exhibition at the MIT Museum is the multihued hologram titled Insights. One of five light sculptures now being created for the German optical company Carl Zeiss, Inc., the series is being designed to mimic micro imagery. Each sculpture will use a new multi-exposure technique in which three images appear on one panel. In addition to a color shift caused by dispersion, there is also a unique effect in the horizontal parallax. While moving from left to right the viewer will be able to explore the interplay of three different images simultaneously

Light Rain by Betsy Connors

Betsy Connors, (b. Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA) artist and educator, has long been associated with the cutting-edge research and experimentation in light and holography at MIT, An alumna and former lecturer at the Media Labs’ Spatial Imaging Group, Connors also founded ACME Holography, one of the only private holography labs in the Boston area. A former fellow with MIT’s Center of Advanced Visual Studies, she was also the MIT Museum’s first curator and educator when the Museum acquired its now famous international collection of holograms and she continues to support the Museum. Connors has taught and exhibited her work throughout the world, and has won major awards and fellowships during her career. Locally her photography has been exhibited at the ICA, her video work has been broadcast on public television, and she is a founding director of the former Boston Film Video Foundation.

Connors work in holography is concerned with imagery from nature and environmental issues. She combines holograms in large scale installations with computerized tools to manipulate the imagery in her work. The unusual interactive lighting and animation of the holograms in her 1996 exhibition LightForest with floor, ceiling, and walls of holograms of rain forest imagery were controlled by then, state-of-the-art computer technology, including motion and proximity sensors. She continues to push the boundaries of holographic techniques in Light Rain, the artwork exhibited in Luminous Windows. Some of the over seventy thin holograms depicting leaves, tree trunks, and branches, are moving—dropping down and slowly moving up. The holograms are suspended by filament attached to small motors overhead, programmed using a robotic controller creating subtle motion of some of the holograms spinning and reflecting eye-catching light out into the night. The transmission holograms move vertically while the light, reflecting off and behind the holograms, moves softly creating a water-like effect.

Thera by Ikuo Nakamura

Ikuo Nakamura, an award winning artist, originally studied physics at the Science University of Tokyo. In the early 1980s he moved to New York City to learn holographic techniques at the New York Holographic Laboratory. By combining his scientific background with his passion for art and holography, Nakamura developed experimental multimedia installations such as Rainbow Dance, a holographic pattern animation series, Neuro Hologram, a brain wave interactive hologram and The Mirror, an interactive space projected video image synthesizer. Nakamura was the director of technical creativity for the Center for Holographic Art in New York City.

Nakamura’s contribution to the Luminous Windows exhibition at the MIT Museum is titled Thera, his 2004 hologram based on the painting “Madame X,” by John Singer Sargent. Nakamura’s holographic portrait of Thera, a performing artist in New York, mimics Sargent’s original Madame X painting, which in 1884 scandalized the world with its suggested sexuality of a young socialite. The hologram is created using ruby pulse lasers and backlit digital projection that portray the interference between timeless holographic pure light volume, and a projected time-shifted flat image. Nakamura delves into the past and illuminates painterly and social conventions as they “vibrate” into present day perceptions.

Laccolith by Sally Weber

Sally Weber is an installation artist who works with holography and light. Known for her solar, environmental, and architectural installations using large-scale holography, Weber has exhibited extensively nationally and internationally and received numerous public art commissions both in the US and overseas. In October 2008, Weber returned for the second time as artist-in-residence at the Center for the Holographic Arts, New York.

A graduate and former Fellow of MIT's Center for Advanced Visual Studies, Weber was introduced to holography through artists Harriet Casdin-Silver and Donald Thornton. In conjunction with colleagues from MIT and Brown University where she was a Visiting Lecturer during the 1980s, Weber co-founded Advanced Environmental Research Group to investigate the passive solar applications for holography in multi-storied buildings. Weber’s contribution to the Luminous Windows exhibition at the MIT Museum is the hologram titled, Laccolith. This figurative image, part of the installation Descent, from the larger Strata Series, is a pulsed-light image created using holographic interferometry to capture micro-movements of breath, blood and muscle tension from within the body. In the artist’s words, “The patterns in the artwork suggest the hidden strata of inner turbulence.” The geologic term “laccolith” refers to a bulge of stratum forced through the earth’s surface by magna from below.

Production Credit for Laccolith: The master image for Laccolith was produced during an artist-in-residence at the Center for the Holographic Arts, Long Island City, NY, in 2001. The final image was completed in the artist's holographic studio in Austin, TX.

The Good Medicine Cabinet by Pearl John

Pearl John (b. London, England) graduated from the Royal College of Art with an MA in Holography in 1992. John uses large format holography as a medium to examine issues of self-identity. She combines holographic images with text, video and photography to reach toward the meaning that exists at the boundaries between words and images, and between artist and viewer. Her holograms and installations have been exhibited in Japan, Europe and throughout the United States. John currently teaches holography to students at the University of Southampton, UK, and continues to work as a fine art holographer.

John's contribution to the Luminous Windows exhibition at the MIT Museum is the hologram titled The Good Medicine Cabinet. The hologram is a white light transmission hologram with mixed media that explores a person's reflective nature, and how it can inspire personal, spiritual, and social change. On one level, the artwork consists of a hologram of medicine bottles sitting inside a medicine cabinet. The next level of reflection reveals that the hologram is itself mounted on glass in the door of a real-world medicine cabinet. The third level of reflection is achieved when the viewer's image is visible in the reflection of the window, superimposed on the bottles of "good medicine."