What we tend to think of when we think “hologram” is this scene from the original Star Wars film, and what they really look like in a gallery is like the James Turrell on the right (via artnewyorkcity)

If you’re a Star Wars fan, have noticed the reflective stickers on your credit card, or have ever worn those weird spooky glasses with eyes on the outside, you know what a hologram is.  But what about holograms as fine art?

This summer the New Museum is presenting Pictures from the Moon, a small exhibition of rarely seen holographic works by several major artists including Bruce Nauman, Louise Bourgeois, Eric Orr, Ed Ruscha and James Turrell (who had a large Large Holograms show at Pace Wildenstein in 2009, video below).

Bruce Nauman, “Hologram H from Second Hologram Serie: Full Figure Poses (from A-J)” (1969), Holographic image on glass, 10 x 8 in (20.3 x 25.4 cm). © 2012 Bruce Nauman/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York (via New Museum)


Exactly. Completely bizarro. Artists have been into holograms since 1962, when the laser technology necessary to create them was invented. At the time holographic technology was even hailed as a medium of the future for its ability to turn space inside out with its unusual spatial, volumetric and sequential qualities. Though laser beams didn’t end up replacing oil paint as a dominant medium, artists have shown consistent interest in holography across the decades. Pictures from the Moon will offer a fresh perspective on some big name artists we thought we knew.

Jenny Moore, assistant curator at the New Museum and curator of Pictures from the Moon, has been obsessed with holograms for several years, gleaning all she could of its obscure presence in art from disparate sources. Here’s what Moore has to say:

“In this current age of techno-dependency, Pictures from the Moon offers a view of the persistent attempts by artists to wrest something more from technology than what it was originally invented for. Holographic technology is an undeniably compelling medium, and holograms are such bizarrely beautiful things to look at. It’s always interesting to exhibit something a little outside of our perspective of what an artist does. Artists are always surprising us.”

Pictures from the Moon: Artists’ Holograms 1969 – 2008 will be on view from July 5 – September 30 at the New Museum. This show is happening in conjunction with a larger thematic exhibition, Ghosts in the Machine, curated by the museum’s associate director and director of exhibitions Massimiliano Gioni  and curator Gary Carrion-Murayari.

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Rhoni Blankenhorn

Rhoni Blankenhorn is a California-born contemporary art writer and consultant, now living in Brooklyn. Find her on twitter @rhonierika.