The Form of the Invisible


Session Title:

  • Forms of the Invisible

Presentation Title:

  • The Form of the Invisible



  • This seems an appropriate moment to consider the role of the book as a vulnerable artefact of late 20th-Century culture, as new electronic media are being demonstrated and promoted. In the last year we have made more than 125 holograms of books, using a documentary form of hologram developed to record rare and valuable objects in museums of the former Soviet Union. Each of our holograms contains a three-dimensional image of an individual book with its spine (and title) visible and the body of the book receding into blackness; the holograms were cut to be the same shape as a book, tall and narrow. This type of hologram, called a Denisyuk hologram after its inventor, is a very ‘straight’ form of hologram without any ‘artistic’ effect. At the time we were visiting professors in the art department of Tsukuba University, Japan. We chose all of the books from a single library in the art department? Japanese and English texts ranging from books on optics to books on art. Some were very recent, others much older, including European technical and scientific books imported during the last century when Japan opened itself to the rest of the world.

    The book presented itself as a common cultural carrier, an object with equal traditions in East and West and a suitable point to contemplate our own situation in relation to the culture we found ourselves in. After making holograms of books we started to draw books on a computer and to manipulate scanned images of books using digital photography software. We see this as providing an opportunity for a more imaginative, more London, UK plastic investigation of the book than that allowed by the rigour of the holographic project we set ourselves. The drawings explore the concrete forms of Western and Japanese texts in graphic abstractions without words. Scanned images of book spines become the starting point for us to invent a series of new titles derived from the title of a text and often at odds to the sentiments of the original.