Ana Maria Nicholson, Margaret Benyon, Martin Richardson, Patrick Boyd and Rob Munday used a pulse laser, which emits a brief intense flash of light rather like a stroboscopic flash, to create their striking portraits, (13, 14, 15, 17, 22, 26), capturing the light waves reflected by their subjects in a fine grain photographic emulsion and subsequently playing back those waves with a narrow beam spotlight. Benyon's self-portrait, 'Tigirl' (15), employed a double pulse, revealing the movement of her blood vessels beneath the skin in the billionth of a second between exposures. That pattern reminded her of a tiger's markings so she placed the hologram in register with a photographic reproduction of a tiger's face. Her portrait of Richard Hamilton (14) was a collaboration with the well-known artist and related to his 1974 lenticular print 'Palindrome' (16).
Lenticulars are often spoken of as "holograms" but the process is different in that no lasers are involved. In the case of lenticulars, a number of photographic images are taken, often with a camera that moves along a rail to provide different viewpoints, and slivers of those photographs are interlaced and covered with a plastic lens screen which directs stereoscopic (3D) images to the viewer's eyes. Recent examples of this technique, as used by Jeffrey Robb and Chris Levine, can be seen here (10, 12). Levine's 2D giclee portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II (11) is included in the exhibition as it resulted from a commission he received to make a hologram of Her Majesty. The hologram was recorded using a moving camera (designed and operated by Rob Munday) and, at the end of one of the takes The Queen rested her eyes and this remarkable and unusual portrait was captured.
Holographic stereograms, as holograms created from photographic sequences are called, are similar to lenticulars, but translate the information into holographic form using a sophisticated optical printer. Patrick Boyd's 'Virtual Dialogues' (23, a recent father's view of virtual reality) and Harriet Casdin-Silver's updated Venus of Willendorf '91 (24) are examples of this, both recorded on nickel plates reminiscent of the daguerreotype process.
Isabel Azevedo's 'Cowgirl' (20) takes the stereogram into the 21st century as the sequence she shot on video was digitally encoded and printed using the latest hologram technology. Paula Dawson's two works (19, 21) are also digital holograms but derive from computer generated 3D files.
David Pizzanelli's knowledge of photographic history brought him to the realisation that the 19th century photographer Eadweard Muybridge, famed for his studies of Human and Animal locomotion, used a process very similar to the holographic stereogram to take his images, so he gained permission to photograph some Muybridge originals from the V&A and converted them into a series of charming animated holograms like the Mother & Child on display here (25).
James Copp's Test Flight II (18) also uses a sequence of photographs to make this simple yet delightful animated hologram.
Hologram portraits are not yet a part of everyday life for most people, but the lenticular process, familiar to most people from the 'winky postcards' that have been commonplace since the 1960s, is more accessible. Frequently used in advertising campaigns and in publishing, lenticulars are far less expensive to create than holograms and a number of photographers now offer a portrait service, the cost of which is in line with studio photography. 3D cameras and camera systems with lenticular software packages are also available for the enthusiastic amateur.
There will probably be a 3D portraitist on your local High Street any day now!
Works in the Exhibition
10. Chris Levine, Superstar 2010, lenticular print
11. Chris Levine, Lightness of Being 2006, iclee print
12. Jeffrey Robb, Lucent #20, 2009, lenticuar print
13. Ana Maria Nicholson, Flame, 1996, reflection hologram
14. Margaret Benyon, The Artist Richard Hamilton, 1991, reflection hologram
15. Margaret Benyon, Tigirl, 1985, reflection hologram
16. Richard Hamilton, Palindrome, 1974, lenticular print
17. Martin Richardson, Analytical Female, 1989, reflection hologram
18. James Copp, Test Flight II ,1982, reflection hologram
19. Paula Dawson, The Legend of the True Hologram, 2007, digital hologram
20. Isabel Azevedo, Cowgirl, 2009, holographic stereogram
21. Paula Dawson, Luminous Presence , 2007, digital hologram
22. Patrick Boyd, Lucy in a Tin Hat,1989, reflection hologram
23. Patrick Boyd, Virtual Dialogues,1993, holographic stereogram
24. Harriet Casdin-Silver, Venus of Willendorf, 1991, holographic stereogram
25. David Pizzanelli, Mother & Child, 1989, holographic sterogram
26. Rob Munday, Seal, 1994, reflection hologram
The bronze sculpture in the centre of the gallery is a bronze portrait of Diana, Princess of Wales, commissioned from the artist Jane Hamilton, by the Earl's Court Society, to commemorate the period that Lady Di,, as she then was, lived in the area. It was on temporary display at Gallery 286, while awaiting a permanent home.