Contributions to the 7th AICCM Book, Paper and Photographic Materials Symposium 29g31 August 2012 Brisbane, Australia
The National Gallery of Australia (NGA) holds a varied collection of new media, which includes intriguing virtual art such as holograms.Whether the term ‘new’ can still be applied to holography is debatable; the theory was announced in 1948, with the realisation in images occurring after the invention of lasers in the 1960s. Famously, Salvador Dali claimed to be the first artist to have worked with holography with his 1972 New York exhibition. This, however, was not strictly true as there had been two previous dedicated hologram exhibitions in the US in 1968 and 1970, highlighting the enthusiasm with which the medium was taken up by artists. Over the years hologram materials and techniques have evolved, becoming more sophisticated and, reflecting similar trends to those in photography, incorporating digital technology with applications in art, science, industry and medicine.Holograms are part of everyday life, and extraordinary developments in colour holography have led to artists working exclusively in the medium, producing entire exhibitions created in holographic images.This paper considers some of the implications of these works for the conservator and provides a brief summary of the history and manufacture of holograms, together with an overview of the materials and techniques of a small selection of holographic images in the NGA collection by Paula Dawson and Margaret Benyon. Both artists have been creative with the technical process, collaborating with a wide range of scientists and technicians over the course of their careers, incorporating different holographic methods as these evolved. They have remained as engaged with the technical aspects of their work as with the artistic concerns, believing this an integral part of the creative process; both artists are concerned with the longevity and conservation of their works.