Jonathan Ross Holography Collection

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Forward - V&A Museum

IN AN IMPORTANT way, holography has changed the way that I see the world. It has made me appreciate stereo vision - given me a child-like delight in the beauty of things seen in three dimensions. When out walking I very often close one eye, move in close to a piece of foliage, and simply look for a while. 

After becoming familiar with its complex two dimensional pattern of leaves and branches, I then open the other eye and wonder at the sumptuous, voluptuous volume of virtual space that my brain is able to create. It is with this hologram-transformed way of seeing that I nowadays approach the activity of looking at holograms.

I first started to see holography in the mid I980s, just at the time when art holograms were becoming more sophisticated. At that time I was writing a paper on an early photographer about whom very little was known. It occurred to me, as I cursed the lack of letters or other such points of access to this photographer's mind, that holography was at a similar stage in its history, and that the failure of those in the nineteenth century to preserve such documents was about to be repeated in the twentieth. In holography, our age is still the pioneering age, and the 1980s and '90s are the first age of holographic excellence. The artists who have chosen to work in the new medium are explorers that in later times will be accorded the same interest as Fox Talbot, Roger Fenton and Camille Silvy.

At that point I decided to befriend holographic artists, to tape conversations, and to write about them. At the same time the Victoria and Albert Museum was beginning to become interested in the subject and we started our small collection, appropriately enough with people likeMargaret Benyon and Susan Cowles. The collection is growing slowly, often as the result of donations, and now includes, from the present group,David Pizzanelli and Jeffrey Robb.

In the future it will become clear that Jonathan Ross bears the same relation to early holography as do the rare early collectors of photography, people such as the Reverend Chauncy Rare Townshend, friend of Dickens and discerning collector of fine photographs in the 1850s. I hope that the Ross collection will remain together and be preserved, not only as a repository of fine holographic art from the early phase of the medium, but also as a case study in the taste of an important early collector and a document of how, in its infancy, the medium appealed to its public.

Chris Titterington

Assistant Curator of Photographs
Victoria & Albert Museum

Text published in 3 x 8 + 1, Exhibition catalogue, 1994.

Reproduced with permission

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