Holography Unit @ Glue Factory, 14 Sep-6 Oct

Preview by Andrew Cattanach | 10 Sep 2012

Do you remember the future? It took place some time between the late Victorian period and the invention of the internet and was a kind of cult led by prophets Wells, Ballard, Burroughs and Dick. Once the internet went mainstream things changed. The future was subsumed by the present to become just another aspect of our supermodern here and now.

In the future every technological development was an attempt at prescience – to second-guess what the next big thing might be (the ill-fated Betamax videotape its best-known casualty) – and the art of Holography was one such conjecture. To help celebrate this aspect of our future, artist, curator and Glasgow School of Art graduate Alistair Frazer has brought together works produced at the Royal College of Art’s Fine Art Holography department.

Founded in 1985 the department was the first of its kind, giving Masters students access to industrial technology that would help lead the way in a new art form. And despite the home computer being in its infancy in 1985 (the ZX Spectrum was first available in 1982) there was still a notable shift in our understanding of the ‘virtual’ during this period, with the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard the dominant prophet of the decade (although much of his work was translated into English a little later).

Opening on 14 September, Holography Unit at the Glue Factory will look back at the life and work of the department, including 40 holographic works by 20 artists. It’s a rare opportunity to explore a fascinating microhistory and consider the contemporary implications and developments of a medium at once futuristic and retro.