The HoloCenter is a non-profit arts organization dedicated to the creation of holograms. Currently in residence on Governor’s Island in New York, the HoloCenter hosts workshops and runs exhibitions that display some of the leading holographic artwork in existence. Their latest show is titled “Iridescence” and it features six artists from all over the world. Patrick Boyd, Michael Bleyenberg, Pascal Gauchet, Lana Briscella, Fred Unterseher, and Setsuko Ishii. The artists were selected through an international competition.

The holograms they created are stunningly colorful and seemingly three-dimensional holographic artwork.

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Since the start of the 2017 season in May, the HoloCenter has welcomed thousands of visitors and helped to convey the message that holograms are excellent artistic mediums.

Recently Martina Mrongovius, Ph.D., the Creative Director and CEO of the Center for the Holographic Arts, discussed the “Iridescence” show and more via an exclusive interview.

Holograms and Governors Island

Meagan Meehan/Question (Q): What initially inspired you to create holograms and how did the HoloCenter come to be?

Martina Mrongovius (MM): For me, making holograms was a way to capture the way light is shaped by reflections as my early work was mostly abstract light patterns. I then began making stop motion animations that led to my ‘urban landscape’ and ‘visual protagonist’ series created from photographs and video of urban spaces.

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The HoloCenter was founded by Ana Maria Nicholson and Dan Schweitzer who were both working at the Museum of Holography when in closed in 1994. They wanted to create a place for artists to make holograms, and our residency program was the focus of the organization. I was an artist resident in 2004 and then developed an exhibition program in our Long Island City studio. When we had to leave that studio in 2009 I kept the exhibition programming going – at Flux Factory and then at The Clock Tower of Long Island City from 2013. We were getting a lot of attention for our shows at the Clock Tower, but it was sold in 2014. We reached out to the city and #Governors Island offered us a space for the season. This will be our fourth year on the Island.

Q: How did you secure a spot on Governors Island and how have you attracted artists to the location?

MM: We applied for our building and were granted summer tenancy. We hope the Island will be able to accommodate the HoloCenter long term. We love our current building and have put in a lot of work to make it suitable for our exhibitions and workshops.

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Building a holography studio is our next priority. Artists either love it or hate it on the Island. It is a special place, but working in a historic building with no water and spotty internet requires a certain toughness. We get a lot of visitor from diverse backgrounds so it is a great platform for sharing #Art.

Q: What prompted you to organize the "Iridescence" exhibition and how did you select that title?

MM: “Iridescence” is the exhibition of artworks created with production funding from the Hologram Foundation. Hugues Souparis created the Hologram Foundation to help artists with the aim of developing the market for art holograms and getting art hologram into our every experience. Hugues has been very successful with Surys (formerly known as “Hologram Industries”) but before he was putting holograms on currency and passports he made large display holograms. He knows how tough it can be to make high-quality holograms but also how stunning they are. The title came from a discussion in Paris between gallerists Emmanuel Bouvet and artist Pascal Gauchet. We wanted something that captured the essence of holographic images and the word iridescence fits with these artworks of light.

Q: How does this show differ from the others that were displayed earlier in the year?

MM: “Iridescence” is the exhibition of artworks created through the Holographic Art Grant program, so the projects were selected rather than most exhibitions where you are choosing finished pieces.

Artwork, projects, and exhibitions

Q: How did you select the artists that you chose to feature and are any pieces especially captivating?

MM: The artworks were selected through an international open call and there were over fifty projects proposed and the panel selected six! It was tough and many great projects didn’t get funding in this round. The works created are for sale with funds going back into the pool for the next round of production. We will announce the next open call soon. I do have some favorites and will happily show them to anyone who comes to the gallery and asks me!

Q: What was the process of setting the show up like and how many visitors do you expect?

MM: Installing exhibitions is always more work than they look. Installing in a historic building on an island adds some extra challenges. Having exhibited these works in Paris and knowing the building, I have a good idea of how this exhibition will come together. I like to plan in the space as each hologram creates a viewing field. How these fields fill the space and intersect is important. I expect we will have about 8000 visitors over the two-month show. This is our first time doing after hours events (which will be held on September 1 and September 8 - check our website for details) and the first time that Governors Island is open to the public through October. I am curious to see what October is like on the Island!

Q: What are the challenges of working in the non-profit arts field and what do you wish more people knew about the HoloCenter?

MM: The HoloCenter was built and is run by artists to help other artists and share holographic art. There is a constant pull between putting energy into what is happening now at the HoloCenter and finding funding for the next projects. Running a free summer museum for the public run is tough. I’m really thankful to our weekend crew who deal with a lot of people, have to protect the art and explain how the pieces are made countless times!

I see the HoloCenter as a platform for the medium and the artists. We want people to know holography, find the artists they like and make holograms. Personally, I would like to see more holograms in architecture. Teaming up with the Hologram Foundation for the Holographic Art Grant and exhibiting “Iridescence” has been wonderful.

Q: What projects are you presently working on and what is forthcoming?

MM: I’m building a new studio and working on some collaborative projects. One of these is a collaborative mapping project in Queens with participants welcome!

Visiting the exhibition

The “Iridescence” exhibition will be on view from September 1 to October 29, 2017. The opening will take place on Friday, September 1, from 6pm to 9pm, and the artists will partake in a talk on Saturday, September 2, from 2pm to 4pm.

The HoloCenter is open on weekends from 11am to 5pm and Fridays from 2pm to 4pm. To learn more, google “HoloCenter Governors Island.” #New York City