I participated to the International Research Conference, in the Planetary Collegium’s Consciousness Reframed Series, “Technoetic Telos: Art, Myth and Media“, April 30 – May 2, 2012, hosted at the Ionion Center for the Arts and Culture in the beautiful landscape of the Island of Kefalonia, Greece. I presented a paper on holography, both for historical reasons (this technology celebrated some relevant anniversaries in 2012 and in the last two years) and for the interest that holography – as a model, as a simulation and as a language of representation – raises in the artistic realm, in the communication realm (especially for its uniqueness) and in the science realm (in particular in the theories about the universe).

Photo by Diane C Derr

As Roy Ascott pointed out, “the conference takes its theme from the conjunction of telos and tele, (τ?λος and τ?λε), in the purposes and processes of art in the post-digital culture. At the centre of these considerations is Mind, and the rich variability of consciousness and reality, to which technoetic systems and syncretic creativity aspire.”

Roy Ascott and me

My paper, entitled “The case of holography among media studies, art and science”, will be published in the journal Technoetic Arts: A Journal of Speculative Research, Intellect Books LTD. Here the abstract:


The case of holography among media studies, art and science


In a few years holography celebrated some important anniversaries: in 2010 the 50th anniversary of the L.A.S.E.R. invention; in 2011 the 40th anniversary of the Nobel Prize awarded to the Hungarian scientist Dennis Gabor for inventing holography; and in 2012 the 50th anniversary of the first holograms.

Holography can create an accurate visual simulation, with total parallax: a replica of the real object made of light, which has the real object’s visual properties but is immaterial, intangible. The holographic images are volumetric and exist in a real and measurable space, and are not based on the Renaissance perspective, which can represent the three-dimensional physical space onto a bi-dimensional one.

In a near future holography-based techniques will open up new possibilities in the visualization domain, allowing new visual worlds. In the meantime holography can be a useful technical and theoretical tool for reflecting on how our everyday mediascape works.

The media can produce, reproduce and transmit bi-dimensional images on flat supports. The media system has a high coherence degree and the images share similar morphostructural rules, so they can be transferred from one medium to another without any fundamental information loss: bi-dimensionality and image-support coincidence appear to be at the basis of this high level of translatability. Conversely holograms can’t be displayed through the usual media without loosing their peculiarity: they require new displays, new visual media, new genres of communication, even if they hybridize with the existing media.

Holography stands apart from the media realm, that in part explains the difficulties of this technique to emerge and integrate into the mediascape. Holography suggests a new visual universe within a culture where the visual simulation is the most effective communication system; and it let us reflect about the need for a more comprehensive definition of “image”. We can believe that future images will also be holographic and that we shall communicate more and more through them, in a delicate balance between presence and absence, immediacy and remoteness, materiality and immateriality, matter and energy.

Holography can work as a model in science. For example in the study of the brain activity in the Holonomic Brain Theory, originated by Austrian psychologist Karl Pribram and initially developed in collaboration with physicist David Bohm for explaining the human cognition.

Holography can also be a model in physics, in the idea of the physicist David Bohm of an “implicate order” in the universe, where the global structure can be found in each small part. The universe would be a gigantic and wonderfully detailed hologram.

More recently, theoretical results about the black holes suggest that the idea of a holographic universe is a viable hypothesis. And in the field of the quantum gravity and string theories the “holographic principle” suggests that the entire universe can be considered as a two-dimensional information structure, and the three-dimensional world we observe is but a description at macroscopic scales and at low energies.