Drawing Sketch, 1990 (6" x 9" hologram on film)

Taking a break from sinks for a moment to let you know about my other artistic endeavors. Before getting into glass fusing and slumping (the technical term for what we do at Alchemy), I was a holographer. Yep, I made holograms, had my own laser and everything. I recently dusted off some boxes and rediscovered a lot of old work.

I started photographing the pieces and decided to put up a website and facebook page so people could see them. The holograms I?ve made are pretty different from what you may think holography is or can be. I worked out a technique for getting vibrant colors and mixes of colors, and approached the medium as a way to ?paint with light.? Normally, holograms of objects are the most accurate visual representations of those objects, but I kind of went in the opposite direction, which is why I named the site abstract-holography.com.

Don?t know what a hologram is? Well even if you think you do, you may not.

These are called holograms but aren?t really holograms.

These are called holograms but aren?t really holograms.

The word has lately become a marketing term for anything that seems 3D. Film projected onto glass (Tupac) or video images appearing to float in space (Princess Leia) are not actually holograms. Microsoft?s new HoloLens technology isn?t holography either. A true hologram is a recording of the light that reflects off an object and into our eyes. Each point on the surface of an object reflects (or transmits) the light that hits it in a specific way. The collection of all these rays of light is called a light field.

In this hologram the magnifying glass magnifies different parts of the circuit board as you look at it from different points of view.

?Holomouse2? by Georg-Johann Lay. The same hologram seen from 2 different viewpoints.

A hologram is like a window inserted into a scene to capture the portion of the light field that passes through it. Looking through this window after the hologram is removed from the original scene gives the same visual experience (let?s disregard color for the moment) as if the scene still existed in that space. When light is shined on the hologram at a specific angle, the microscopic pattern recorded in the hologram acts like millions of mirrors and prisms to bend that light into the same light rays that made up the original light field. When looking through a hologram, you can move your head to see around the recorded object as if it were really there.

Other ?3D? techniques don?t give you that sensation. With 3D glasses, your eyes just see different static images that the brain merges into a view with depth. Depth by itself is not true 3D, because if you move around, the image is always the same, you?re only seeing flat images at different depths. Holography is limited however by the size of the hologram. To see the holographic image, an actual hologram (usually a piece of film or glass plate) has to be in your field of view. In other words, you can?t project a hologram into another space. At least not with any technologies known today.

Seeing a picture of a hologram doesn?t come close to what you see when you look at the actual hologram. It?s like showing a still from a movie. You get some idea of the visual look, but you don?t get any of what sets the medium apart. To capture the color shifting effect and movement of objects projected into space, I?ve made short movies of the holograms that approximate the experience of standing before the hologram and moving up and down or side-to-side. Please check out the videos. Most of the images up on the facebook page and website are what I call sketches. I?ll be adding more as I document more of the pieces.

Making holograms is what led me into glass in the first place. If you think of holograms as being images of pure light, something you can see but can?t touch, then glass is kind of it?s complement. Since glass is transparent, you could think of it as something you can touch but can?t see. Obviously this isn?t exactly the situation, but when I combined my holograms with cast pieces of glass, I really liked the way the light from the hologram danced in and around the volumes made by the glass. This led to my interest in glass and eventually to Alchemy Glass & Light.

Steve Weinstock

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