Lasers And Lenses Abound At Summer Hologram Museum

By Ilana Berger


This summer, one of the only museums in the world dedicated to holography (the study or production of holograms) found a home in a small house in Nolan Park, Governor’s Island.

Opened May 24, The Center of the Holographic Arts (Holocenter) is committed to educating people about holography, supporting artists who specialize in it, and researching new and innovative techniques.

It’s a good thing, because most people have misconceptions about what a hologram actually is. The famous Tupac hologram, for example, wasn’t even a hologram. Tupac’s return from the dead was a result of an old illusion called Pepper’s Ghost, during which the audience sees a 2D reflection of an image that is hidden from view.

A hologram on the other hand, is a three-dimensional image created by the interference of light beams from a coherent light source (typically lasers), as opposed to a camera and lenses to illuminate a subject.

“What’s unique about holograms is the way they’re able to record information with depth,” said Center Director and holographic artist Martina Mrongovius. “They have all of this added dimension.”

From 2013–2014, the museum was located in the historic Clock Tower in Long Island city, but re-located with the help of the Trust for Governor’s Island when their sub-lease expired.

With Holographic centers and museums being a bit of a rarity, the museum has attracted visitors from the US and abroad who come solely to view this one-of-a-kind work.

One installment called The Coexistence-banana by Ray Park looks a bit like someone replaced the Enchanted Rose from Beauty and the Beast with an object you might see if David Lynch directed a Sci-Fi film.

“People love the banana,” said Mrongovius. “It’s a gorgeous cylindrical hologram with a banana in it and the peel at the bottom. It’s an interesting reality, but non-reality.”

While the Center mostly contains holographic installations, it welcomes new and innovative ones that are not holograms, but manipulate and transform space in similar way.

“It’s more about the way we’re thinking,”said Mrongovius, “The basic theory of holography is using an extended perspective.”

For example, another one of the center’s popular installations by Artist Matt Brand uses lumographic lenses.

According to Brand’s website, the micro etchings on these lenses work to concentrate and diverge light rays to make bright and dark patches in an image, producing the same light pattern one might see under moving water on a sunny day. While the imagery is holographic, it is not traditional holography.

A trip to the Holocenter is the perfect adventure for anyone looking for an interesting day excursion. The museum itself is free, and the ferry to Governor’s Island is only $2. The center’s last day is September 27, so be sure to get out there sometime this weekend or next weekend.

“We would love to come back to the island next summer,” Mrongovius said. “With a long term lease, we could put in a lab and an art center to really get people making holograms.”

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