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The case of holography among Media Studies, art and science

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In the last few years holography has celebrated some important anniversaries: in 2010 the 50th anniversary of the light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation (LASER) 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 in a bi-dimensional one. In the 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 degree of coherence and the images share similar morphostructural rules, and thus can be transferred from one medium to another without any fundamental information loss: bi-dimensionality and image-support coincidently appear to be the basis of this high level of translatability. Conversely, holograms cannot be displayed through the usual media without losing their peculiarity: they require new displays, new visual media and new genres of communication, even if they hybridize with the existing media. Holography stands apart from the media realm, which in part explains the difficulties of this technique in emerging and integrating into the mediascape. Holography suggests a new visual universe within a culture where visual simulation is the most effective communication system, and it lets us reflect on the need for a more comprehensive definition of ‘image’. It is easy to imagine that future images will also be holographic and that we will 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 brain activity in the Holonomic Brain Theory, originated by Austrian psychologist Karl Pribram and initially developed in collaboration with physicist David Bohm to explain human cognition. Holography can also be a model in physics, for example in the idea of the physicist David Bohm of an ‘implicate order’ in the universe, where global structure can be found in each small part – the universe would be a gigantic and wonderfully detailed hologram. More recently, theoretical results on black holes suggest that the idea of a holographic universe is a viable hypothesis. And in the field of quantum gravity and string theories the ‘holographic principle’ suggests that the entire universe can be considered as a two-dimensional information structure, and that the three-dimensional world we observe is but a description at a macroscopic scale and at low energies.
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Keywords: brain structure; holography; media; simulation; universe

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: NABA

Publication date: May 17, 2012

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  • Technoetic Arts focuses upon the juncture between art, technology and the mind. Divisions between academic areas of study, once rigidly fixed, are gradually dissolving due to developments in science and cultural practice. This fusion has had a dramatic effect upon the scope of various disciplines. In particular, the profile of art has radically evolved in our present technological culture
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