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Habitat 44º - The Art of Reconstruction


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With my thesis project, Habitat 44º, I investigate the complexity of holographic space and how holography has the potential to augment the observers’ view of their surrounding environment. The purpose of this research is to isolate unique characteristics of architecture and holography to lay the foundation for my art practice. In the field of holography, both artists and scientists alike refer to the holographic image as a “reconstruction," a shorthand for wavefront reconstruction. At the intersection of holography and architecture, I explore the critical implications of my reconstructions through the lens of Jens Schröter and his analysis of the transplane image, and through Rosalind Krauss' concept of axiomatic structures. Taking a constructivist approach, I create a holographic artwork and fabricate a spatial canvas that acts as an intervention in architectural space in order to construct a theory and practice of environmental holography.
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Habitat 44º
The Art of Reconstruction
Marcus A. Gordon
a thesis exhibition presented to OCAD University
in partial fulfillment of the requirements
for the degree of
Master of Fine Arts
Digital Futures
April 2017
Black Box Lab, April 13th-18th, 2017
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, April, 2017
© Marcus A. Gordon 2017
I hereby declare that I am the sole author of this thesis. This is a true copy of the thesis, including any
required final revisions, as accepted by my examiners.
I authorize OCAD University to lend this thesis to other institutions or individuals for the purpose of
scholarly research.
I understand that my thesis may be made electronically available to the public.
I further authorize OCAD University to reproduce this thesis by photocopying or by other means, in
total or in part, at the request of other institutions or individuals for the purpose of scholarly research.
Signature: !
“Holography-based techniques will open up new possibilities in the
visualization domain, allowing new visual worlds. In the meantime,
holography can be a useful technical and theoretical tool for reflecting
on how our everyday mediascape works.
Pier Luigi Capucci in The case of holography among Media Studies, art and science.
(Capucci, 2011)
Habitat 44º - The Art of Reconstruction
Marcus A. Gordon
Master of Fine Arts in Digital Futures, 2017
OCAD University
With my thesis project, Habitat 44º, I investigate the complexity of holographic space and how
holography has the potential to augment the observers’ view of their surrounding environment. The
purpose of this research is to isolate unique characteristics of architecture and holography to lay the
foundation for my art practice. In the field of holography, both artists and scientists alike refer to the
holographic image as a “reconstruction," a shorthand for wavefront reconstruction. At the intersection
of holography and architecture, I explore the critical implications of my reconstructions through the
lens of Jens Schröter and his analysis of the transplane image, and through Rosalind Krauss' concept of
axiomatic structures. Taking a constructivist approach, I create a holographic artwork and fabricate a
spatial canvas that acts as an intervention in architectural space in order to construct a theory and
practice of environmental holography.
Keywords: Holography, architecture, physical, virtual, space, abstraction, quasi-architecture,
reconstruction, transparent material, models, transplane, pavilion, digital architecture, constructivist,
environmental art, transmission hologram, augmented reality, wave optics, material energy, virtual
This thesis research is indebted to the outstanding advisory of my committee led by Martha Ladly,
Philippe Blanchard, and my technical advisor and mentor Michael Page. I have been fortunate to have
worked with these powerhouses of the university and know that their invaluable advice will continue to
positively impact the creativity and professionalism of my practice.
I would like to record a voice of thanks to the many at OCAD U who have been a large influence and a
source of inspiration throughout my graduate study, including Anda Kubis who has given me the
opportunity to exhibit my first public artwork at the university. I owe a tremendous amount of gratitude
to Natalie Logan, STM Holographic and the OCAD U PHASE Lab for their support in making my
transition into the field of holography an exciting journey into the future.
To my family, mother, father, my three sisters and close friends for putting up with my late nights, long
talks and my sporadic disappearances. Thank you for your support these past two years.
A big thank you to Charles Pachter for your financial support and to the Visual Analytics Lab for your
employment opportunity throughout my studies.
I dedicate this to all artists who use science and developing technologies in their work.!
Research Questions 2
Scope and Limitations 4
Significance of the Project 4
Duality of Spaces 14
Architecture vs Not-Architecture 17
The Pavilion Experiment 25
The Spatial Canvas Experiment 33
The Art of Reconstruction 42
Future Directions: Augmented Reality 44
Future Directions: Material Energy of Light 45
Fig. 1. To Absent Friends hologram by Paula Dawson. Reprinted with permission. 10
Fig. 2. [Lateral View] Photo of Holomentis by Marcus A. Gordon. 14
Fig. 3. [Frontal View] Photo of Holomentis by Marcus A. Gordon. 15
Fig. 4. Diagram of Holographic Space (Pepper, 1989) 16
Fig. 5. Sculpture in the Expanded Field Diagram (Krauss, 1979) 17
Fig. 6. A remix of Krauss’ axiomatic structures region from her diagram on sculpture. 18
Fig. 7. [Frontal View] Habitat 44º pavilion digital sketch 24
Fig. 8. Photo of acrylic sculpture by Marcus A. Gordon. 26
Fig. 9. Photo of bokeh effect showing in the illumination of the first maquette by Marcus A. Gordon. 31
Fig. 10. Photo of optical table setup for the first maquette by Marcus A. Gordon. 31
Fig. 11. Photo of the illumination of the second maquette by Marcus A. Gordon. 32
Fig. 12. Photo of the illumination of glass holographic optical elements blocks by Marcus A. Gordon. 36
Plate. A. Photo of suspended architectural maquette by Marcus A. Gordon. 39
Plate. B. Photo of suspended hologram of architectural maquette by Marcus A. Gordon. 39
Plate. C. Photo of both exhibited holograms perceived as one virtual image by Marcus A. Gordon. 40
Diagram. B1. Diagram of optical table setup for the Advanced Prototype by Marcus A. Gordon. 51
Diagram. B2. Diagram of optical table setup for the recording of the Spatial Canvas by Marcus A. Gordon 52
Sketch. C1. Building blocks of the Experimental Prototype by Marcus A. Gordon. 53
Sketch. C2. Original model of Habitat 44º pavilion concept by Marcus A. Gordon. 53
Sketch. C3. Digital sketch of architectural maquette by Marcus A. Gordon. 54
Sketch. C4. Measurements sketch for maquette windows by Marcus A. Gordon. 54
Sketch. C5. Habitat 44º pavilion concept with geodesic dome by Marcus A. Gordon. 55
Abstraction implies under-determination, ie, openess to be explored.
Patrik Schumacher in The Autopoiesis of Architecture
(Schumacher, 2011)
“We are surrounded by flat representations of the three-dimensional
world. (Pepper, 1989)
There is more to the experience of the third dimension that surpasses the limitations and boundaries of
a linear perspective; something that cannot be explained by a photograph or a flat illustration in a
book. It is this curiosity that has propelled holographers, virtual reality artists, and architects to seek out
new approaches. What can we learn from architects as creators of the concrete, mass material and the
structures that surround our everyday? One would typically say that raw and processed materials are
the tangible building blocks of their profession, but that thinking continues to change.
“Architecture has always involved, as an integral part of its creative process, the production of abstract
spaces from which concretizable forms are drawn” (Massumi, 1998). We see this with the advent of
digital architecture , this now being a standard form of design process in architectural practice.
Massumi’s quote, however, speaks to abstraction, and the digital realm is not the only influential
medium of abstract space. Holographers, seeking this same abstraction in other terms, leave a trail of
possibility for the field of architecture. In fact, both fields share a major commonality: light.
“[Architecture’s] basic medium is light. It uses concrete and stone, metal and glass, to sculpt light in
ways that either direct the fixations of attention steadfastly away from their confounded conditions of
emergence or on the contrary enable it sporadically to fold-back into them” (Massumi, 1998).
Holography is also about the recording and sculpting of light. It is this intersection, of holography and
architecture, that drives my research interests and the intention to create environmental holograms in
architectural spaces.
Take your home, for instance, a collection of rooms with four walls, which translates to a spatial canvas
of sorts awaiting your creative customization of the space. You paint, decorate and furnish, turning
your space into one that resonates with you. Colour, design, and function guide the decisions you
make in that rooms’ customization. There is a sense that you become aligned with the rhythms of the
room. For perspective, another example of this connection would be the feeling you get from wanting
to stop and reflect on an artwork that you come across in passing en route to work, school or an event.
The work might be in view from the path you take, but is not in the way of you getting to your location.
But yet, the artwork forces your body to stop and admire and/or question its existence to the point that
it interrupts your regular flow. My intent is to create rhythmic connections as described, through
environmental holography experiments. With the medium of holography, I argue that it can project a
sense of extended physical space. I believe this occurs by witnessing virtual space within the structure
of a physical space and seeing it as a type of enhanced architecture.
Research Questions
The primary research question that will propel the investigation of these experiments is based on the
argument that holographic space can extend physical space:
How can the virtual image of holography contribute to the dialogue of abstraction
in architecture?
Holograms come in many forms. For my particular research, I will refer to one major type of hologram:
the transmission hologram, that refers to the way it reconstructs an image by transmitting light through
a photosensitive surface. Dependent on content and context, various forms of holograms speak to my
argument of an extended physical space, which I define as an experiential complex space that is
perceived autostereoscopically as both physical and virtual. The transmission hologram, however,
bodes well with the concept of rear lighting like the type found in photography light boxes.
The dialogue of abstraction is key to architectural practice as referred to in Patrik Schumacher’s writings
on architecture and parametricism such as The Autopoiesis of Architecture where he highlights a
central message that “architects do not build.They work with representational models, drawings and
digital information structures to design their creations (Schumacher, 2011). I believe holograms such
as transmission holograms and holographic optical elements are tools that can be added to the
architects’ list of representational modeling tools. Like architectural drawings, for instance, such assets
have the distinct capacity to transcend the practice into what Schumacher also indicates as the art
system (Schumacher, 2011, 5.1.7). Holography, also as a visual art practice, transcends that same space
from representation tool to form of expression. In my view, holography’s strength in the art-architecture
system is the duality of the virtual and the physical.
To clarify the distinction I make between what is physical and what is virtual, the physical here
represents anything tangible or concrete. The virtual in holography refers to the image seen behind the
holographic plate, and in computing refers to things not physically existing but created by software.
When referring to the complex of holographic space, my other interest is in how the virtual image in
holography can also contribute to the dialogue of the duality of spaces. This leads to my secondary
research question:
Can the intervention of a spatial canvas be grounds to a re-contextualization of the
duality of spaces?
This secondary question serves to consider the social implications of holographic artworks within the
built environment. To further study this idea of extended physical space, I create a spatial canvas
representing the window of a pavilion augmented with a holographic image. This work defines the
very start of my practice of environmental holography as a mode of intervention into public spaces. In
addition to this, I engage in a self-reflexive critical observation of the fabricated work. With the pavilion
at the center of the research as an architectural structure in which holograms are combined, an
exploration of architectural representations is pursued.!
Scope and Limitations
My research looks at the dualities of physical and virtual space and as such limits the scope to
perceptival characteristics of architecture and environmental art in these spaces. The placing of work
outdoors in cityscapes and landscapes is similar to the confines of an environmental art practice. The
pursuits extend to both indoors and outdoors, public spheres and private spheres. However, the
scope of Habitat 44º is limited to the development of holography research and specifically its impact
on physical spaces. The Habitat 44º research places the spotlight on the atmospheric intervention of
architectural spaces. As a potential contingency, I consider the conceptualization of these and future
interventions as paper architecture, similar to the drawings and models of Constant Nieuwenhuys’ New
Babylon or Zaha Hadid’s Malevich’s Tektoniks .
Significance of the Project
Habitat 44º as a project name, came from a few sources of inspiration. In reflection of Habitat 67 in my
home city of Montreal, Moshe Sadfies’ master’s thesis became a visual reminder for me of the Expo 67
that I only had the ability to read about, but has had a tremendous impact on my future vision as the
Expo celebrated the “future of cities”. As a form of wordplay, the 44º in the name is used as an
approximate latitude for where the city of Toronto is positioned on the planet and signifies a pseudo
location of where the research begins. This is also known as the 44th parallel north, indicating 44
degrees from the earth’s equatorial plane.
Holography is a field in existence since the mid to late 1960’s and regarded as a high-technology art
form, where high costs in lasers and precision optical components made it a niche market requiring
specific levels of expertise. However, times have changed with the industry growth and so have the
options and capabilities of the holographic printing process. With advancements in digital
holography, for instance, artists capable of producing works have increased since those with 3D and
computational photography expertise can apply their knowledge to the production of holographic art.
I began my research in the field of digital holography and noticed a few things that I consider strong
reasons for its potential in media history: (1) as explained in Schröter’s thesis on the transplane image,
there’s been a historical preference for the perspectival image which derived an academic and industry
focus, over time, on the planocentric image and its visualization capabilities (Schröter, 2014). That (2)
digital technology has prolonged the linear perspective view of imaging and situated preference
towards three-dimensional imaging via virtual optics (Schröter, 2014) such as virtual reality and
augmented reality (Hockett, 2016). The significance of this track in history, could lead to a better
understanding of our needs for spatial imaging and make a case for increasing research focus on wave
optics to eventually bring today’s digital visualization practices into the fore of our natural environment.
Lastly, (3) the confusion surrounding nomenclature and semantics outside the field (specifically around
the word “hologram” and what constitutes a real “hologram”) has an impeding affect that fuels
holographic research to go in reverse or slow down. This also creates confusion in other related fields
of research where the third-dimension is concerned .
As a final note on significance, the rationale behind the pavilion as the concrete object of the research,
supports my interest in studying architectural works. It also supports the notions of social spaces and
architectures of enjoyment, as pavilions historically are extensions of palaces, gardens, courts and
extensions of human habitats. The history of the pavilion demonstrate patterns of transformation in its
identity, its self-expression and its utility, over time. What makes it an ideal vehicle for this research I
feel is due to its experimental character. Sometimes the experimentation is about its construction, the
materials, site-specificity or its social impact. Habitat 44º is a study of these same characteristics of a
new pavilion concept combined with the intrinsic characteristics of holography.
Contemporary pavilion architecture includes a plethora of variations and styles revealing many
architectural techniques and themes such as biomimicry, parametric structure, media architecture,
natural lighting materials such as bioluminescence, and techniques such as blobitecture. Including this
improved catalog of building materials and features further exemplify the capacity for the pavilion to
quickly and efficiently promote ephemeral art that challenges the norms of architectural space. One
does not have to look any further than the structures found on the grounds of the Serpentine Galleries
in London, the Common Pavilions of the Venice Biennale and the pavilions from Expo 1967 in Montreal
to the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona to see the generational change and outlook on
spaces created by these neo-monuments.!
“Digital architecture is a series of representations of an ideated physical space...and is a metaphor for the
creation of spaces in cyberspace…” and/or “…a meaning for the creation of spaces for human interaction. !Digital
architecture is not solid or physically three-dimensional…“ (Bertol, 1997)
Constant’s drawings and models represented in the book hyper-architecture of desire (Wigley, 1998) and Zaha
Hadid’s AA thesis paintings titled Malevich’s Tektonik
Such as Oculus Rift, Microsoft Hololens, Google Glass, Google Cardboard, and others. (Hockett, 2016)
Confusions include Pepper’s Ghost, augmented reality, and volumetric displays, being thought of as “holograms”
which in fact, they are not actual recordings of interference patterns which is what holograms are. For these
sometimes confused technologies and techniques, I coined the term “fauxlography” to refer to these when
mistaken for holograms. First public revelation of the term was presented by Michael Page at the International
Symposium for Display Holography of 2015 in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Literature Review
…new is made comfortable by being made familiar.
Rosalind Krauss in Sculpture in the Expanded Field (Krauss, 1979)
Literature Review
The Transplane
To take holography’s history one step further (back in time, that is) the foundation of this field can be
said to originate from research into the four groups of optical knowledge (geometric optics,
physiological optics, wave optics, virtual optics); more specifically wave optics (Schröter, 2014). In 3D:
History, Theory and Aesthetics of the Transplane Image by Jens Schröter, the transplane refers to
stereoscopy, photo-sculpture, integral photography, lenticular images, holography; images that
provide more information on space or spatial structures of objects (Schröter, 2014). For holography,
the concept of the transplane represents its aesthetic and critical origins contextualized through the
history of the stereoscopic image. From this view, I position my research on holographic works as a
real and expressive medium; and a well suited interdisciplinary field of study that can contribute to the
criticality of art in architecture.
In Schröter’s thesis, he claims that perspectival projection images create a fundamental problem in
identifying such things as material form, measure, and other valuable visualization assessments and
needs (Schröter, 2014). Although the photograph can provide a certain level of information, it lacks in
parallel projection with its focusing of light, doing away with proper displaying of shadows, peaks and
valleys, and as perspectival projection, it is not isomorphic (Schröter, 2014). This is one of the
rationales behind Schröter’s case for the transplane image and brings about a dialogue to focus our
attention on a new definition of ‘image’, one that includes the nature of the three-dimensional image
that contains spatial information. My interest in situating this fact as the basis for my thesis directs the
attention towards the dialogue of space, both physical and virtual, as grounds for recontextualizing the
duality of these spaces in modernity.
Schröter exemplifies the importance of visual representations of space through its reflection of ‘time’
and pictorial representation (linear perspective) as a contributor to the creation of spatial knowledge
(Schöter, 2014). This suggests that even with the presence of the transplane image, the linear
perspectival image can assist in the creation of spatial knowledge, for instance, through the advantage
of the time to visualize an object or scene.
Literature Review
In his book, Schröter speaks to a differentiation he makes between the transplane image and the
“spatial image,” the latter which he equates to sculpture,…the comprehensive category comprising
both transplane images and those that have a three-dimensional material support” (Schröter, 2014).
A History of the Hologram
In 1947, Hungarian scientist Dennis Gabor invented holography, as most would say, as Gabor was the
first to describe the principles of the technique of holography. This was eventually published in 1948,
the same year Parker and Wallis published their first essay on the volumetric display (Schröter, 2014). It
was a time where scientists were looking for ways to gain more information with spatial images. Both
distinct endeavours; holography and the volumetric display; regardless of their unique and significant
differences are both interchangeably referred to in casual conversation. Gabor’s research was
interested in a particular type of spatial information; one that would improve the resolution of the
electron microscope.
The term ‘hologram’ appeared in Gabor’s text in 1949, titled Microscopy by reconstructed wave-fronts
published by the Royal Society, that traces back to the beginnings of the holographic technique. He
situates this paper as a “new two-step method of optical imagery” (Gabor, 1949). ‘Hologram’ as a term
was devised to differentiate between an interference pattern and a diffraction pattern, effects created
in Gabor’s research experiments on improving electron microscopy. The key to the hologram was that
the photograph (as he called it) possessed the “total information required for reconstructing the object
in question, whether it be two-dimensional or three-dimensional” (Gabor, 1949).
For the purposes of this paper, a hologram will be defined as a transplane image created with wave
optics that is a three-dimensional construct of an object. To simplify this definition, the history of the
transplane image is important to understand as it is the foundation of today’s knowledge of three-
dimensional imaging, including holography.
In the field of holography, the creators of holograms refer to their work as “reconstructions.
Holographic images are called this because they consist of multiple wavefronts of light from an
Literature Review
interference pattern that is “replayed” by diffracted light, as explained in Paula Dawson’s writing titled
The Visual Language of Holograms (Dawson, 2011). Albeit a simplified description, the “replaying” is
done by introducing laser light, white light or daylight to the interference pattern which creates a three-
dimensional image. Similar to Dennis Gabor’s original paper on the hologram (Gabor, 1949), the
replay of these wavefronts are a reconstruction. One of the most interesting aspects of the holographic
process is that the image created can vary based on a multitude of factors including wavelength,
occlusion, the scale of the object, etc. However, the most remarkable aspect of the process is the
verisimilitude achieved when making the image (Pepper, 1989). A good example of this is a piece
from Paula Dawson titled To Absent Friends where a hologram was made of a local pub (Dawson,
Fig. 1. To Absent Friends hologram by Paula Dawson. Reprinted with permission.
This type of work involves a certain level of precision in order to illuminate a room completely and
exposed for capture by laser light. The end result is a hologram of an interior that shows great depth.
These holograms of the pub created by Dawson were presented as windows in a gallery space, making
this in my view, the first direct example of how holographic artworks can extend physical space, that is
Literature Review
not only obvious to the viewer but also adding to Peppers’ concept of the space behind the
holographic plate treated as a box in which to place objects (Pepper, 1989).
Axiomatic Structures
Prior to this investigation, my interest in sculpture led me to Rosalind Krauss’ essay Sculpture in the
Expanded Field (Krauss, 1979). Initially looking at how light-based works such as holographic
sculptures can be analyzed through Krauss’ framework, I became drawn to the peculiarity of the
architecture and not-architecture region of her diagram that which she named axiomatic structures
(Krauss, 1979). In my view, this part of her framework applied most to the works I was creating whether
it was photography, sculpture or holography. Krauss points to artists such as Robert Irwin suggesting
works from the Light and Space movement would be suited in this region, this also included artists
such as Bruce Nauman, Richard Serra, and Sol LeWitt, working within the realms of video, photography
and other mediums (Krauss, 1979). Researching publications for a media architecture conference, I
discovered Retracing the Expanded Field, where the conversation of the expanded field transcended
sculpture to a focus on art and architecture (Krauss et al, 2014). This book of dialogues from
roundtables with Julian Rose, Hal Foster, Miwon Kwon and Krauss further increased my desire to use
the expanded field as a point of research and discussion surrounding experimental architecture such
as pavilions. For me, pavilions are an opportunity to conceptualize architectural designs as well as
sculptural work that can be defined as “quasi-architectural” and catalyze a critical analysis framework to
situate my research of light-based artworks as interventions into architectural space. Historically,
pavilions have been something of a niche type of structure, created for special occasions, as they still
are today. In the essay Introducing Pavilions, Joel Robinson mentions that pavilions, since ancient
Rome, have acquired their name from the word papilio in Latin meaning ‘butterflies’, undoubtedly
referencing old temporary structures made of fabric flapping in the wind (Robinson, 2014).!
Literature Review
The Connection
As a mission to determine the social implications of holograms within the context of the built
environment, I consider the observations of theorists on the subject of holographic space, beginning
with Andrew Pepper and his definition of holographic space (Pepper, 1989). In Pepper’s research, he
refers to the visual paradox that explains our surprise when we encounter a hologram; a mix of our
expectations of a picture within a frame, but with a three-dimensional object or scene that shows depth
beyond the flat surface of that frame (Pepper, 1989). This is further explained by the nature of
holograms allowing us to see items inside the box (beyond the flat surface) or outside the box (in front
of the surface), seemingly between you, the viewer, and the holographic plate. Pier Luigi Capucci
notes that holograms enhance the sensorial energy between sight and touch, essentially making us
feel what we see in terms of the materiality of the represented object (Capucci, 2011). Holography
provides the viewer a level of freedom that is not common to other visual media, and that is the
freedom to move around an image and change your angle of view, at will, where the resulting image is
different at every movement (Capucci, 2011). This differs in photography, for instance, where the
three-dimensional object or scene is flattened, and every angle of view change ultimately results in the
same image viewed. As such, experiencing holograms is similar to the experience of sculpture. This is
my primary rationale behind the seamless integration of holographic works within physical space, at a
level that they can become part of the design of future architecture. These environmental holograms
signify a duality in purpose, of function, and of materiality. Similar to the ideals of the 1920s Russian
Constructivist whose accordance to the material is the utmost focus of their works.
Via the concepts presented above, I synthesize that Schröter’s theory of the transplane image can
position holography within the continuum of media history. Krauss’ expanded field presents itself as
an ideal lens to observe and critically analyze this extension of architectural space.
Theoretical Framework
Architecture is not simply a platform that accommodates the viewing
subject. It is a viewing mechanism that produces the subject it precedes
and frames its occupant."
Beatriz Colomina in Sexuality & Space
(Colomina, 1992)
Theoretical Framework
Duality of Spaces
The public sphere is of particular interest to me in which to situate my light-based artworks, as well as
my digital art. My first sculptural work was presented in a public space at OCAD University in Toronto,
Canada, a first at integrating interdisciplinary art and research that also contributed to ongoing work in
the visualization of medical information with holography. This piece is called Holomentis, and as a first
wave of working with holographic space, its contextualization as a sculpture peaked my interest in
combining both physical and virtual spaces.
Fig. 2. [Lateral View] Photo of Holomentis by Marcus A. Gordon.
As a digital designer in the past, I was always fascinated with the field of digital architecture. A broad
field to define, the term has been used to refer to everything from architectural visualization using
computer software, to heterogeneous operations of digital form finding and parametric modeling. An
expertise in itself, creating digital architectural renderings became a competent addition to traditional
Theoretical Framework
Fig. 3. [Frontal View] Photo of Holomentis by Marcus A. Gordon.
architectural drawing practices, but never really a replacement. However, it is this specialization that
drove my interest into architecture as an adjacent field of research. As the core subject of my
philosophical views on space, my interest in the field has grown significantly as I turn to architecture as
a spatial canvas for my interventions. In the essay Sensing the Virtual, Building the Insensible Brian
Massumi reminds us that the virtual is a form of abstraction (and not the other way around) and that it is
a significant starting point in the architectural process (Massumi, 1998). This part of abstraction, the
virtual, becomes a highlight and focus of the creative process in experimental architecture.
Architectural models, then, are essentially an art form that lives in a “duality of spaces”, a constant cycle
of experimentation and production of virtual and physical spaces.
The virtual has evolved to become less about abstraction and instead, an influential form of
representation. Holography fits well within this view, as a medium that feels virtual but in many ways is
a replica of reality that can have a significant level of spatial verisimilitude (Dawson, 2011). In
holography, there are various spatial qualities depending on the types of holograms you create. In my
initial experiments with Habitat 44º, I focus on laser light transmission holograms as well as white-light
transmission holograms. Different hologram types are defined by different representation systems,
Theoretical Framework
recording methods and viewing geometries. This makes for a complex level of variations that can be
achieved combining these holographic image techniques with a variety of architectural styles.
Although there exists a multitude of hologram types, the one that is the simplest and most capable of
supporting my claim of extending spaces is the transmission hologram. !The characteristics of this type
of hologram allow for the image to be reconstructed with laser light, a spotlight or any other source of
white light, such as the sun. Most importantly, the word “transmission” refers to light going “through”
the glass plate to reveal the image to the viewer situated in front of the hologram. The transmission
hologram allows me to install it as a window replacement, playing on the duality of spaces: the
boundaries that frame the window are physical, and the revealed image through the glass is virtual.
The first window that may come to mind is the one in your home. Using Beatriz Colomina’s analogy, in
the home the window acts as a view to a stage, placing the house as a metaphor for a theater box
(Colomina, 1992). Viewing it as such would suggest that the stage could be a landscape or another
open space in the house. As holography acts as a role of virtual extensibility, the form of the physical
space also changes the depth perception of a hologram seen through a window in that space. Pepper
refers to this as a memory window (Pepper, 1989). In the context of Habitat 44º, the architectural
window is meant to be a vehicle for visual display in architectural spaces and to be the point of origin
for the viewer to experience the depth perception of holographic space.
Fig. 4. Diagram of Holographic Space (Pepper, 1989)!
Viewing Zone extends to infinity
Theoretical Framework
Architecture vs Not-Architecture
In Krauss' description of axiomatic structures, she indicates that a work in that region acts as a
"...intervention into the real space of architecture” that can come in the form of a drawing or a partial
reconstruction (Krauss, 1979).
Fig. 5. Sculpture in the Expanded Field Diagram (Krauss, 1979)
In relation to Habitat 44º, axiomatic structures would identify with a light-based artwork that creates
subtle atmospheric or space interventions, similar to the works of artists from the Light and Space
Movement . Also, it refers to artwork that comes in the form of architecture, specifically pavilion
architecture which is the alternate subject of my research. To frame the work of Habitat 44º as
axiomatic structures is to relinquish the view of the pavilion as simply a phyiscal building, and instead,
form an ongoing dialogue of experimentation within (and outside of) what constitutes architecture in
the virtual sense.
As I contest that theoretical frameworks boil down to an organization of theoretical cases and variables,
this thesis builds on the following two cases: (1) holographic space and its basis on wave optics being
an analog form of virtuality, and (2) the quasi-architectural referring to things like pavilions and
architecturally influenced artworks.
Theoretical Framework
Fig. 6. A remix of Krauss’ axiomatic structures region from her diagram on sculpture.!
Fig. 6. A remix of Krauss’ axiomatic structures and the duality of spaces by Marcus A. Gordon.
Theoretical Framework
The Light and Space was an avant-garde movement that began in Southern California in the 1960s and includes
light based artists such as James Turrell, Robert Irwin and Larry Bell.
The first mention in (my research) of the term “quasi-architecture” was in Rosalind Krauss’ Sculpture in the
Expanded Field. (Krauss, 1979)
Constructivist Art Methodology
Constructivism fosters the momentary, transitional, flexible, and
adaptable over the monumental and eternal.
Maria Gough in Artist as Producer: Russian constructivism in revolution.
(Gough, 2005)
Constructivist Art Methodology
The Habitat 44º research project can be summarized as an experimental investigation into the making
of holograms in architectural spaces. !The intent is to integrate these holograms into new and existing
architecture. !The rationale of this thesis is based on an exploratory hypothesis of viewing holograms as
a "window", that perceptively, extend physical spaces. !As such, the ideation, fabrication, and exhibition
of this project is experimental and seeks to add holography to traditional and contemporary
architectural practice. !Taking an artists' approach, a constructivist methodology is invoked as it
coincides with the production characteristics of the experimental artworks in this research.
Konstruktsia Faktura Tektonika
Constructivists make works that pay respect to the nature of materials. Tatlin’s view of the constructivist
object is centered around the idea of necessary form.
“Tatlin’s ‘necessary form’ is a compound logic; it was to express truth to materials, mankind’s
authentic creative will, the universal laws of human experience, and a social necessity.” (Rowell,
Originally a painter, Tatlin began making reliefs when he visited Picasso’s studio in 1913. There he
experimented with wood, metal, and glass, materials often found in many (if not all) of his future reliefs.
In his reliefs, for instance, The Bottle, the piece engages itself in the expression of each material’s true
nature where, wood’s natural color is kept and respected, the metal reflects uniformly the light that hits
its polished surface and the glass subjected to light emphasizes its invisibility (Rowell, 1978). This is
what Tatlin means by the use of the term necessary form. The other half of what constitutes the
constructivist object involves “social necessity” which refers to a diverse range of meanings including
the utility or application of said object, the social implication of the object and its purpose of inspiring
a new logic on the conception of art. This concept defines art as being (or directly a result of)
experimentation or laboratory research (Rowell, 1978).
Constructivist Art Methodology
The constructivist object questions the external form taken from the object’s primary materials. It also
suggests that the purpose of the object is to also implement the original idea of the artist while making
a reality its practical applications.
The formal approach is opposed to spirituality and ideas, and the work is transformed into an
experiment, a form of laboratory work. (Esche, 2007)
This suggests the end of a spiritual basis on the creation of art, and instead places an importance on
intellectual production through experimentation, submitting to the Constructivists’ ideology of a “new
consciousness.” Varvara Stepanova systemizes the factors behind the new consciousness ideology into
four points that essentially can be summarized as: (1) a call to development of industry and
technology, and the creation of new inventions untied to natural forms at its inception and where its art
is based on ‘artificiality’, (2) materialism and the concretization of artistic ideas through production, (3)
the importance of craftsmanship and artificiality and the continuation of its influence on the social
impact of technology, and (4) the unique classification of art practice residing outside the realm of
traditional social development and aestheticism (Esche, 2007). The result of this synthesis signifies an
overall switch from a spiritual focus of art to one that is derived solely from intellectual production.
These new definitions of art from the Constructivists revolve around a term frequently used in their
circles known as faktura and is a central connection to their works describing mostly the properties and
processing of organized materials in their constructions. Aleksei Gan suggested that there are three
basic parts to the material elements of constructivist work: (1) construction, the organizing of material,
(2) faktura, the expression of material structures (that includes the process of its creation and use), and
(3) tectonics, “the organicity of what emerges from the inherent essence [of a given material]” (Gough,
Essentially, the three steps represent for Habitat 44º an expression of material and production
technique. The properties of glass or clear acrylic play the vital role of material focus in these
experiments, but also it is both metal and wood that play the role of supporting materials. They do this
through the use of it to frame, connect and suspend clear glass or acrylic structures that ultimately
become holographic plates (or architectural windows).
Constructivist Art Methodology
This methodology for Habitat 44º can be described as transparent material representing the faktura;
the organization of transparent material for its use as a holographic object or as the primary material in
a holographic scene that is constructed; and, the emergence of said constructions to be known as
“reconstructions” of light through transparent materials. In summary, the Habitat 44º experiments run
through a progression of steps that lead to a final constructivist object of light, manipulated via
selected transparent materials. In my view, it is the material that becomes the driving force of my
experiments as well as the object of focus in my holographic recordings.
To further describe the details of the constructivist art methodology used in the work, the three steps of
construction, faktura, and tectonics are complemented by the goal of emphasizing transparency and
invisibility in the end result of the constructivist art object. To this end, the object created after the
progression of the three major steps is the spatial canvas. As the final exhibited object, the spatial
canvas in my view must possess and speak to the characteristics of transparency and invisibility,
whether directly or metaphorically through intellectual production.!
Experimental Architecture
The Habitat 44º pavilion is an experimental structure in pursuit of rethinking the practicality of
transparent material for visualizing spatial information and contributing to the infinite dialogue
between the physical and the virtual.
Fig. 7. [Frontal View] Habitat 44º pavilion digital sketch!
The Pavilion Experiment
The pavilion experiment is an attempt to design a conceptual pavilion structure made mostly of glass.
!Then, to fabricate a small physical model of it with clear acrylic. !Afterwards, the next stage involves
making a hologram of this pavilion concept to be an example of how the !medium can be used in
architectural practice to visualize designs. !
The main objectives of this experiment are to prove that transparent material can be recorded
holographically, that reconstructions scale accurately as a virtual image, and that the medium can be
used to visualize physical space. To do this successfully, I am trained to make a traditional analog
hologram as opposed to a digital hologram which I was first exposed to when working on my previous
sculpture Holomentis. The main difference for me in this process is getting the hands-on experience
illuminating objects and scenes on an optical table, similar to the process of lighting a scene, object or
person in a photography setup.
I first create an architectural maquette that consists primarily of transparent material in order to begin a
process of construction, the first step in the constructivist art methodology.
1. Fabricate an architectural maquette of my pavilion design.
2. Create a laser transmission hologram of the Habitat 44º pavilion.
Before completing these steps, an essential factor in pursuing this experiment effectively is to set up a
few test experiments to educate me on traditional holography processes and confirm the recordability
of transparent material of glass and clear acrylic. These test experiments result in a project titled “The
Experimental Prototype” which uses an acrylic sculpture as the object of the test and the “Advanced
Prototype”, a project of an improved maquette but with an identical holographic recording process to
the experimental prototype. After the creation of the laser transmission hologram, a design of the
coordinated presentation system for both a physical maquette model and a glass plate hologram
stand is made.!
Fig. 8. Photo of acrylic sculpture by Marcus A. Gordon.!
Experimental Prototype
The first experiment involves a cubism-inspired acrylic sculpture. The acrylic colours consist of smoked
gray, ruby red, and a burnt yellow. Having consulted with holographers in the lab, it was highly
recommended that a significant amount of clear material not be used. As forewarned, the advice
centers around the fact that clear material typically does not show well in a hologram, and dark
coloured acrylic pieces may simply show as black objects.
The first order of business was to set up the optical table. The components needed for this included:
A. Laser. In this case, the Coherent Verdi laser was used, which is a green continuous wave laser
operating as a single-frequency green at 532 nanometers output.
B. Beam Splitter. Used to split the laser light into two: an object beam and a reference beam.
C. Mirrors. A network of mirrors from beam splitters to dichroic mirrors used to align and bounce
beams as needed.
D. Spatial Filter. This device establishes spatial coherence by light that is uni-directional and is
designed to expand the reference beam and focus it onto the holographic plate. It removes light
scattered by dust particles and usually consists of a microscope objective, pinhole and x/y
E. Holographic Plate. Where on the optical table the glass plate with holographic film is located.
F. Diffusers. Small treated blocks of glass used to diffuse the light from the object beam.
These basic components were laid out on the optical table to begin laser illumination tests. !A five, ten,
and fifteen second exposure of the sculpture was taken, to ensure we can get an idea of a good
potential exposure. The manual exposure test revealed the ten second time frame worked best. This
was now an approximate target time frame for the recording. The target time frame at this stage is only
used as a foundation to work from. This time frame can experience change as different exposures are
tried in practice to get near perfect illumination of objects on the optical table. The process for the
holographic recording follows a series of steps beginning with the shining of the laser to the beam
splitter. The splitter splits the coherent light in two, creating both an object beam and reference beam.
The reference beam is the light source that creates the actual holographic recording, it is also known as
the recording beam. After the beam splitter creates this beam, it is projected through a spatial filter
which expands the beam to cover the surface area of the holographic plate. This plate (normally glass)
contains the holographic film, and in this case, is a photopolymer based film. The object beam created
by the beam splitter is reflected through a network of mirrors to a set of diffusers that expand and
soften the light onto the object. The object, residing in the middle of the optical table, can be viewed
from the normal position in front of where the plate would be, giving the holographer a glimpse of
how the object will be illuminated, which in turn will be what the hologram will look like when
When the holographer feels the illumination is just right, the recording onto film begins by closing the
laser shutter, turning off all lights leaving only a safe light on. Then, setting up the photosensitive film
plate onto the plate holder. The goal at this point is to take a break to allow both the object and the
plate to settle in their positions to remove creep . For most objects, this pause time can range
anywhere between five to 10 minutes, or even up to 30 minutes for fragile and/or non-rigid objects.
Once the object has been in rest for the appropriate time period, the laser shutter is opened for the
suggested time frame, then closed again. Film gets exposed, and now the development process
begins. Three trays are prepared to develop the exposed film: a tray of water at room temperature at
approximately 20º C, and another tray with RCA (Royal College of Art) developer and another with
EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) bleach. The exposed hologram plate is processed into the
developer, turning the plate darker to the desired density, which can vary depending on the process.
The film is then placed into bleach making the darkened film almost clear again. The chemical process
here is turning the silver molecules of the film into a salt crystal material. Then its is placed in water to
remove all traces of the bleach. The film is then wet with photo flow and then hung to dry. The
development time was set for two minutes in our preliminary tests, which resulted in an adequate soak
time for the film to turn dark in the developer.
Once the acrylic sculpture was successfully recorded, the same specifications were used to record the
original architectural maquette which was approximately 120 centimetres long at about 30 centimetres
in height. It consisted of 18 acrylic panels ranging anywhere from four to 15 centimetres in width. The
clear acrylic used here was three milimetres thick which made its overall size a fragile ordeal. The
gluing of this maquette was done with a methylene chloride (also known as dichloromethane, CHCl)
plastic adhesive. It is a water thin, quick air-dry solvent welding compound, the same formula used for
the Cubist sculptures recorded in my first tests. Having used a very small paintbrush with the gluing of
the sculptures, for the maquette, I experimented with a 0.5 milimetre thick syringe, to maximize
accuracy and cleanliness of the welding compound application.
As an additional test for illumination of the maquette, the model was placed on a platform of
styrofoam, beside another styrofoam backing. Mirrors, diffusers and the spatial filter where adjusted
accordingly for this model prior to recording. Once the illumination was set to its best arrangement, it
was clear that the hologram would reveal only bokeh style light leaks in the clear acrylic, as opposed to
providing a clear view of the acrylic maquette itself. This presented difficulty in seeing dimensionality
of the recorded image or scene, defeating the purpose of the hologram. The image, however, was still
recorded for my research purposes of educating myself on the challenges of transparent material, but
now a new challenge presented itself and needed to be solved."
Advanced Prototype
Due to this new challenge that came about in the experimental prototype, two things were considered:
1. Can simple changes to the optical table setup with additional objects to the scene create a better
view of the maquette?
2. Does another maquette need to be made that would clearly provide a more defined and robust
image by making slight changes to the fabrication of the model itself?
Both of these considerations seem like realistic solutions to the problem, however, the first option
suggests plenty of trial and error, whereas the second option of fabricating another model was a more
structured and time controlled option. The second option also, for the purposes of the thesis research,
was a more valuable initiative that would speak best to the conditions of future fabrication of
holographic objects.
To complement this new test, the original roofing piece of acrylic cut for the first maquette was used to
create an outlined shape on a block of wood. This shape acted as a guide for new pieces of cut acrylic
to be lined up along its edges. The acrylic pieces this time where approximately 2.5 cm2 and 6
milimetres thick. The 78 pieces that were used, including one 2.5 cm2 mirror that was placed on the
south side of the model, were hot glued to the wood base. The solvent, however, was used to join the
rooftop to those pieces. Model making trees were also added to the wood base acting as the
landscape to the surroundings of the maquette. This became the improved model to be used on the
optical table.
Keeping most of the optical table settings from the previous experiment, the only change included a
microscope objective of 8x instead of the 4x used before in the spatial filter and mirror alignment
changes to illuminate a new model height. Clearly, after this illumination setup, the view was
significantly better and more detailed. The key factors were due mostly to the wood base, smaller
acrylic pieces and the landscape objects’ height ratio to the height of the model.
Result: Construction
The hologram of the maquette was a success after trial and error in the construction phase of the
process. !The challenge was mostly about proper illumination of the object on the optical table, which
was resolved when taking a different approach in the fabrication of the architectural maquette.
Result: Faktura
The transparent material was successfully recorded in this experiment as the properties of invisibility
were well demonstrated by seeing through the building walls in the maquette, as well as the hologram.
Result: Tectonics
Based on the concept of the holograms’ use as an architectural tool, was also a success as observations
of its scale were an accurate display of the maquette’s physical scale. !In addition, the viewer also had
the ability to change their angle of view of the scene accordingly to the recorded geometry of the
physical space of the maquette.
Fig. 9. Photo of bokeh effect showing in the illumination of the first maquette by Marcus A. Gordon.
Fig. 10. Photo of optical table setup for the first maquette by Marcus A. Gordon."
Fig. 11. Photo of the illumination of the second maquette by Marcus A. Gordon.
The Spatial Canvas Experiment
This experiments' objective is to record a non-representational image whose purpose is to allow the
virtual to blend with the physical. !In this experiment, the non-representational hologram is made to be
integrated with the architectural maquette from the pavilion experiment.
The glass window is just one of many architectural elements that can demonstrate and deliver the
experience of an extended physical space. As a final phase of experiments, I focus on the architectural
window as the vehicle of delivery of such an experience. The importance of the previous experiments
are to practice the two steps that I will engage in when making environmental holograms: (1) testing
illumination of a conceived object or scene for holographic recording, (2) creating a hologram either
for white light transmission or laser light transmission reconstruction to be integrated into architectural
This experiment is essentially an exercise in creating a quasi-architectural object, with a planocentric
transparent surface, what I call a spatial canvas. It refers to the virtual image one experiences viewing a
holographic plate and witnessing the depth of a three-dimensional object or scene. A proverbial
memory window as referred to by Andrew Pepper can easily be considered the spatial canvas I make in
this experiment. However, the spatial canvas goes beyond that, and mostly refers to subcreation or
worldbuilding (Wolf, 2014). This favours less about the past and focuses on the design and abstract
conception of a future, similar to the notion of architectural design practice.
The subject of the hologram in this case will be an abstract visual that demonstrates the capability for a
hologram to depict sufficient depth and scene lighting. More importantly, the experiment simply seeks
to consider the spatial canvas as a visualization object of the virtual to be placed into architectural
space. To focus on this aspect, I choose to make the hologram non-pictorial to remove any distracting
connection of the holographic content itself and place focus instead on the characteristics of
holography placed into the context of architecture. As a beginning point to my practice, this is the
goal of the hologram’s content. In future, the hologram content will likely be justified in the context of
their site.
The white light hologram is metaphorically the overall objective of my claim for environmental
holography meeting architecture, mostly due to the power of the sun and surrounding lights within an
urban landscape. However, the characteristics of coherent light make the laser lit hologram the end
result choice of my experiment. The rationale behind this is due to the concept of depth. Coherent
light travels longer distances than white light, and as such, illuminates a subject or a scene with great
appearance of occlusion, distance and significant detail of material texture. It is all of these factors that
display the strong depth-perception of a spatial image that is less apparent with only white light
Just as the previous experiments were executed, the optical setup for the spatial canvas hologram
included a recording angle of 45º, a spatial filter consisting of the 10x microscope objective and
exposed for only four seconds under green laser light. The contents of this hologram used for the
spatial canvas are small tempered glass objects placed on a black metallic surface. The black metallic
block is placed on a black fabric material on the optical table. The purpose of this construction is to
level the blocks into a seemingly void space. The blocks are arranged in a series along the metal block
in a linear fashion away from the holographic plate, in order to demonstrate the concept of depth
beyond the glass surface. With the holographic plate at a dimension of 30 x 40 centimetre arranged in
portrait orientation, the recorded hologram shows an odd view of the eight blocks set up from an
angled perspective allowing, all of the blocks to be identified by the viewer.
The faktura factor is seen through the strong illumination of the tempered glass by direct laser light
received through a secondary beam splitter. This splitter is arranged to illuminate the series in two
sections of the scene: four blocks closer to the front the plate, and another four farther away from the
plate. As the viewer moves left to right or right to left, the two section separation of the blocks become
more or less apparent. This observation reinforces the depth perception of the hologram, allowing the
viewer to see objects up close and farther away, at will, with their own movements around the plate.
For the purposes of the reconstruction, the fabrication of the spatial canvas also consists of a
presentation frame holding the holographic plate. During reconstruction tests, the laser beam lighting
the plate was expanded with two double convex lenses similar to the ones used in the initial
experiment. With a distance not much more than a few centimetres apart form each other, the lenses
are tuned to envelop the holographic plate with laser light. The distance of the beam leaving the
second lens and towards to the plate is no more than 50 centimetres, just enough to completely
illuminate the 30 x 40 centimetre glass. This distance is taken into consideration to fabricate the
constructivist art object in the form of a suspended model, complete with optical lenses, solid-state
laser and glass plate. The end result is a hologram capable of being situated into an architectural
façade as a spatial canvas.
As a standalone, the fabricated hologram is a model for a source of light that can be used in any scene.
The characteristics of the recorded objects in the hologram also act as holographic optical elements,
which in the staged orientation to which they were placed on the optical table for recording, acted
both as illuminated and illuminating objects. This duality at play where the objects themselves become
mechanisms in the recording process of the scene also speaks to the spatial advantages of recording
transparent material holographically.
Result: Construction
The layout of the glass blocks allows for a linear view of them that also changes with the viewing angle
of the observer.
Result: Faktura
The texture of the tempered glass in the blocks not only created a beautiful illumination in the
recording process but also made the objects become holographic optical elements that aided in the
overall illumination of the scene.
Result: Tectonics
As a final presentation, the spatial canvas is placed in front of both the architectural maquette and its
hologram. !This demonstrates my overall goal of presenting the virtual image of a hologram with the
physical maquette existing in one scene. !The changed angle of view of the observers allows for the
both holograms and maquette to be viewed either individually or in combination with each other. !The
result is a successful experiment that sets the tone for the practicality of a spatial canvas and its
usefulness of integrating the virtual and the physical.
Fig. 12. Photo of the illumination of glass holographic optical elements blocks by Marcus A. Gordon.
Creep is defined as a slow movement, especially at a steady but almost imperceptible pace.
This refers to the idea of the hologram being capable of (measurable and to scale) representation of objects or
scenes from another physical “world” that innately is virtual. As opposed to our current world which is one that is
tangible; the physical that we can touch.
“The abstract field…a field of hands-on exploration and
experimentation. New form is not conceived. It is coaxed out, flushed
from its virtuality.
Brian Massumi in Sensing the Virtual. Building the insensible. (Massumi, 1998)
Plate. A. Photo of suspended architectural maquette by Marcus A. Gordon.
Plate. B. Photo of suspended hologram of architectural maquette by Marcus A. Gordon.
Plate. C. Photo of both exhibited holograms perceived as one virtual image by Marcus A. Gordon.
“Beneath the pavilion’s often diminutive canopies are found some rather
big ideas about the world.
Joel Robinson Introducing Pavilions: Big Worlds under Little Tents (Robinson, 2014)
The Art of Reconstruction
Physical space is what we navigate with our bodies. In summary of the observations from the initial and
final experiments, it is to my satisfaction that holographic space is a form of abstraction that can be
considered a medium to extend these physical spaces. In the pavilion experiment, the observation of
remodeling the maquette with minimal changes to decor and only scaling differences exemplified how
dramatic the end result can be from an invisible image riddled with bokeh light leaks to a clear and
defined image with visible structure. The spatial canvas experiment demonstrates the duality in
transparent material acting as both subject and propagator of light in a virtual scene. These simple yet
powerful characteristics of holography are toolkits for reuse in a multitude of other visual artworks I
intend to create in my practice.
Massumi stated that “approached topologically, the architect’s raw material is no longer form but
deformation” (Massumi, 1998). However, the virtual provides us the capability to massage this
deformation with the power of perception, as seen by a viewer’s movement around the glass blocks
hologram. This fact also defends my position on holography being a form of virtual that innately is the
sculpting of light in three-dimensional space. The final experiment in the making of the constructivist
art object, the spatial canvas, becomes the vehicle that delivers this form of light sculpture, similar to
the artworks that would reside in Krauss’ axiomatic structures field of her diagram. As Krauss describes
it, the works in this field are interventions, and holographic artworks although virtual, operate in this
“real” space. I conclude therefore that holography is a true “physical” intervention, that in which its
viewers’ movements are physical interactions with the spatial image.
So how can the virtual image of holography contribute to the dialogue of abstraction in architecture?
Via Massumi’s point of architecture being primarily about the sculpting of spaces of light in the
physical realm, holography can act as an augmented physical space and instigate atmospheric change
wherever it resides or is situated. Change in depth-perception as observed in the viewing of a spatial
canvas also contributes to this enhancement, where once there was simply an architectural window to
the outside world, is now a window to a virtual world of limitless possibility and measurable transparent
space. In both the pavilion and spatial canvas experiment, the combination of the two do not suggest
abstraction of geometric shapes, but instead an operation of abstract logics (Schumacher, 2011, 5.3.1).
With a multitude of parameters at play, the virtual image of holography can be compounded,
positioned spatially, superimposed, externally illuminated, self-illuminated, reconstructed, and,
essentially turned on or off by the viewer by simply changing their angle of view. In addition to the
transplanarity of the medium with a transparent material such as glass, the abstraction is further
focused or blurred by the interfacing of the physical space in front or behind the glass.
Having successfully reconstructed both holograms in the exhibit with one single green laser beam, the
addition of another laser, red, complemented the green. In the arrangement set forth, the red and
green glass blocks in the front hologram lined up spatially with the baseline of the hologram of the
architectural maquette. As such, the maquette hologram too had a flush linearity of red and green
window panes of the building. This continued line brought to bear two important observations: (1) the
fact that different wavelengths of light change the overall size of the recorded wavefronts, red and
green laser differences were (at least visually to the viewers eyes) very small in our maquette scale, but
larger with the glass blocks, and (2) this intersection of wavelengths also contributed to frequent
discussions with viewers curious about the duality of the red and green laser colours over the duality of
the virtual image and physical object. The linear setup of both the virtual image of the maquette and
glass blocks created a spatial continuity amongst the objects, suggesting some sort of infinite depth.
The maquette of the pavilion is placed behind the holograms of the glass blocks and beside the
hologram of itself. The importance of this setup is three-fold, having the glass blocks leveled with the
ground and landscape of the maquette, displaying a model for virtual and physical integration, and
finally a 1:1 scale side by side view of the pavilion’s physical and virtual creation. This exhibition has
taught me the values of working with the analogue format, including the viewing of virtual three-
dimensional space, potentially awaiting digital manipulation. It has brought to light opportunties for
integration with projection mapping and other digital lighting techniques. This exhibit, therefore,
clearly states the intent of the pieces as models but more specifically a model of representation
systems working together as one unit. The result here is a model of a large scale representation.
Future Directions: Augmented Reality
Observing first hand that the hologram can virtually and measurably occupy physical space, this
observation also leads to the idea that holography is a form of augmented reality that is
autostereoscopic. As opposed to only using current 3D digital augmented reality technology,
augmenting a scene with 3D holography allows any viewer to experience the augmentation without
special glasses or other technologies between themselves and the subject or scene. As such, I will
continue to maintain that the use of the holographic medium in my art practice will also act as a
foundation for media architecture interventions that can be further augmented with digital technology.
As a model of analogue and holographic representation, Habitat 44º demonstrates a capable
manifestation of abstract systems through spatial modeling. The mixture of the virtual images of the
holograms superimposed and juxtaposed to the physical architectural model not only creates a hybrid
optical space but a multimodal dialogue in that space as well. My curiosity in using this complex
interaction as a basis for further digital augmentation is still elementary. Interested in the applications
of augmented reality (AR) to these spatial models, it is without a doubt just a starting point in which
holography can contribute to the transformation of architectural spaces. AR has its own dialogue in
which two approaches to the technology lead its linear growth: (1) one that focuses on the
augmentation of the built environment itself, and (2) the other which places an overlay of transparent
media surface between us and our environment (Cowling, 2016). The first approach suggests the use
of physical computing and IoT (Internet of Things) technology that essentially creates a “smart city”, and
the second approach uses digital transparent screen technology to inform our eyes directly with
information mixed with the physical things we see around us. Whichever of these approaches is used,
the holographic medium creates opportunities for virtual markers in AR or permanent spatial
information that match with a physical attribute of the space. The holography and augmented reality
hybrid possibility are what I consider to be the first contingent for my practice onwards.
Future Directions: Material Energy of Light
To conclude with this future direction of the research is to return to the inspiration behind a much
bigger idea. The inspiration was driven by the idea of light being the current shift in means of
computation, such that digital technology can be processed at the speed of light. I began to wonder
what this could mean for many different things, but studying holography and having this ever growing
desire to work with architectural spaces led me to imagine how a metropolitan city would change to
accommodate this shift. It was from this thinking that pushed me in the direction of investigating
transparent material, media architecture, and the parametricism of light. There is only one medium
that scientifically proved the capability of freezing light in physical space in the manner in which I am
trying to imagine it: that is holography.
In Sean Lally’s book “The Air from Other Planets," he defines amplification as a strategy that intensifies
and builds upon the existing properties of a known condition, accentuating them until the condition
becomes something other than itself. Producing architecture through amplification involves
strengthening the energies associated with exterior microclimates until they become a material to
build with (Lally, 2013). When my world building professors introduced me to the writings on digital
architecture from Brian Massumi and futurist architecture research of Sean Lally, the connection for
Habitat 44º was made. The big research question of all was: Could holographic light be a material
energy in Lally’s vision?
In Lally’s view, the architect is not much different from the explorer. It is the architects’ imagination that
pushes to explore terrains, perspectives, and materials, to conceptualize their creations. Lally’s outlook
explores the idea that architects should look to the use of material energies as new building blocks.
The experiments of Habitat 44º contributes to this idea, such that the spatial canvas becomes a
microclimate in which light structures are formed. Light as material energy, in my view, is manifested
through the medium of holography, creating an expressive form of architectural representation and
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London A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences (Vol. 197, No. 1051, pp. 454-487). The
Royal Society.
Gough, M. (2005). The artist as producer: Russian constructivism in revolution. Univ of California Press.
Hockett, P., & Ingleby, T. (2016). Augmented Reality with Hololens: Experiential Architectures
Embedded in the Real World. arXiv preprint arXiv:1610.04281.
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Lally, S. (2013). Air from Other Planets: A Brief History of Architecture to Come. Lars Muller Publishers.
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Rowell, M. (1978). Vladimir Tatlin: Form/Faktura. October, 7, 83-108.
Saxby, G. (2003). Practical holography. CRC Press.
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Autostereoscopic means relating to or denoting
two-dimensional images that may be perceived
as three-dimensional without the need for
special optical equipment. (New Oxford
American Dictionary)
Axiomatic Structures “whatever the medium
employed, the possibility explored in this
category is a process of mapping the axiomatic
features of the architectural experience - the
abstract conditions of openness and closure -
onto the reality of a given space.” (Krauss, 1979)
Bokeh is the visual quality of the out-of-focus
areas of a photographic image, especially as
rendered by a particular lens. (New Oxford
American Dictionary)
Computational Photography refers to the
processing of photographic images into a
sequence for the purposes of generating spatial
information on a subject or scene.
Environmental Holography is public holographic
art (murals, holosculptures, multimedia works)
permanently integrated into architecture or an
environment. Because of its visual aspect and
spatial presence, environmental holography can
be considered a holographic installation.
(Poissant, 2001)
Faktura is the expression of material structures
(that includes the process of its creation and use)
(Gough, 2005) .
Holographic Space is the virtual space in front of
and behind a holographic plate, which is where
on the optical table the glass plate with
holographic film is located.
Holographic Installation is an artwork based
mainly on the integration of holographic images
within a given space so that they are not the only
formal vehicles that give meaning to the piece
and spectators can stroll among them. (Poissant,
Holographic Optical Elements is a holographic
optical component that can be used in place of
lenses, mirrors, collimators or other optical
components in the reproduction of recorded
light information. (Poissant, 2001)
Isomorphic corresponding or similar in form and
relations. (New Oxford American Dictionary)
Material Energies are intensified versions of the
energies already around us (electromagnetic,
thermodynamic, acoustic and chemical). Material
energies are the stimuli and information within
our surrounding context that the human body
can perceive. (Lally, 2013)
Microclimate represents the climate of a very
small or restricted area, especially when this
differs from the climate of the surrounding area.
(Lally, 2013)
Necessary Form “Tatlin’s ‘necessary form’ is a
compound logic; it was to express truth to
materials, mankind’s authentic creative will, the
universal laws of human experience, and a social
necessity.” (Rowell, 1978)
Quasi-architecture is architectural artworks and
structural objects that are described to be
somewhere between the characteristics of
sculpture and architecture.
Reflection Hologram is a monochromatic or
multicolored hologram that must be lit by a
frontal and directional white light (at about 45°)
so that the recorded image can be
reconstructed by the selective reflection of
certain light frequencies from the light-sensitive
emulsion. (Poissant, 2001)
Spatial Canvas is a term I use to describe a
transparent surface in a physical space
subjected to holographic intervention and
displays a virtual image behind this surface.
Theater Box (or Loge) is a private box or
enclosure in a theater. (New Oxford American
Transmission Hologram is a master or copy
hologram in which the image can be viewed
when a light source passes through the
recording medium, somewhat like a slide.
(Poissant, 2001)
Transplane Image refers to stereoscopy, photo-
sculpture, integral photography, lenticular
images, holography; images that provide more
information on space or spatial structures of
objects (Schröter, 2014).
Virtual Optics computer generated optics. Makes
other optic modes optional, connecting different
optics in ways not possible before. It is also
responsible for reviving the sense of touch via
interactive images (Schröter, 2014).
Wave Optics describes phenomena of light like
diffraction, polarization and interference, which
geometric optics does not describe. The
mathematical formulas of wave optics allowed
for Lippman in 1891 to establish interferential
colour photography and for Gabor to lay the
foundations for holography in 1948 (Schröter,
Wavefront is the surface of a propagated wave in
which the wave phase is uniform throughout. A
wave that originates from a point of light has a
spherical front. A collimated beam has a plane
front. In holography, a reflected wave, such as an
object wave or a wave that is intercepted by an
object of varying shapes, has a complex
wavefront. (Poissant, 2001)
Optical Table Setup (Advanced Prototype)
Diagram. B1. Diagram of optical table setup for the Advanced Prototype by Marcus A. Gordon.
The Chemistry
Before beginning the advanced prototype, there was a need to create new developer solution to
replinish from past experiments. This presented a great opportunity to learn the basics of creating the
standard solution used at the OCAD University PHASE Lab.
After a holographic plate is exposed to laser light, it is then placed in a light safe box to travel to a
darkroom for development. The developer formula used by the lab was created by Nick Phillips for
the Royal College of Art, hence the formulas’ nickname RCA developer. As an amendment to the
common D-19b formula used in film photography, the RCA developer has a few distinctions from the
original D-19b formula: (1) it does not use metol or potassium bromide in its solution, and (2) uses
phenidone (Saxby, 2003). Along with a few variations in the portions of these ingredients, the recipe
also has an overall emulsion speed that is doubled compared to its D-19b parent. Here’s the recipe
H1 Plate
Spatial Filter
Beam Splitter
RCA Developer
Sodium Sulphite 30g
Hydroquinone 8g
Sodium carbonate 60g
Phenidone 2g (alcohol is added to this first, until dissolved)
These amounts are then diluted in 1L water.
For the bleaching agent, the lab uses what is called EDTA, ethylenediaminetetracetic acid. Its formula
is as follows:
EDTA (bleaching agent)
EDTA disodium salt 30g
Ferric sulfate 30g
Potassium bromide 30g
This is then mixed to 1L of water.
Optical Table Setup (Spatial Canvas)
Diagram. B2. Diagram of optical table setup for the recording of the Spatial Canvas by Marcus A. Gordon!
H1 Plate
Spatial Filter
Beam Splitter
Beam Splitter
Sketch. C1. Building blocks of the Experimental Prototype by Marcus A. Gordon.
Sketch. C2. Original model of Habitat 44º pavilion concept by Marcus A. Gordon.!
Sketch. C3. Digital sketch of architectural maquette by Marcus A. Gordon.
Sketch. C4. Measurements sketch for maquette windows by Marcus A. Gordon.!
Sketch. C5. Habitat 44º pavilion concept with geodesic dome by Marcus A. Gordon.!
Sketch. C5. Habitat 44º pavilion concept with geodesic dome by Marcus A. Gordon.
© Marcus A. Gordon
Using holographic projection technologies at an event titled ‘Women in Tech’, Imperial College Business School launched in November 2018 what it claimed to be the ‘world’s first holographic event at a university’. This form of teaching via telepresence has the potential for a significant disruption of the lecture format and also raises profound questions around the pedagogy of giving lectures in this way. This chapter asks some of those questions as well as attempting possible answers to them and is therefore intended as a set of practical considerations for teachers, technologists, and policy makers that might wish to investigate holographic delivery for their own institutions.
Full-text available
Early hands-on experiences with the Microsoft Hololens augmented/mixed reality device are reported and discussed, with a general aim of exploring basic 3D visualization. A range of usage cases are tested, including data visualization and immersive data spaces, in-situ visualization of 3D models and full scale architectural form visualization. Ultimately, the Hololens is found to provide a remarkable tool for moving from traditional visualization of 3D objects on a 2D screen, to fully experiential 3D visualizations embedded in the real world.
The author discusses the suggestion that holographic space is in some way different from the space generated by other more traditional media and then examines the problems that this difference imposes on criticism of the results. He uses the way we visually interpret images presented on a flat surface through physiological and psychological depth cues to introduce the paradox of a flat holographic surface displaying a three-dimensional image. In presenting a diagrammatic explanation for the space displayed by holograms, he focusses on the technical developments of the holographic process, the viewing zones generated by holographic plates and the restrictions imposed during the recording process.
The subject of this paper is a new two-step method of optical imagery. In a first step the object is illuminated with a coherent monochromatic wave, and the diffractio n pattern resulting from the interference of the coherent secondary wave issuing from the object with the strong, coherent background is recorded on a photographic plate. If the photographic plate, suitably processed, is replaced in the original position and illuminated with the coherent background alone, an image of the object will appear behind it, in the original position. It is shown that this process reconstructs the coherent secondary wave, together with an equally strong 'twin wave' which has the same amplitude, but opposite phase shifts relative to the background. The illuminating wave itself can be used for producing the coherent background. The simplest case is illumination by a point source. In this case the two twin waves are shown to correspond to two 'twin objects', one of which is the original, while the other is its mirror image with respect to the illuminating centre. A physical aperture can be used as a point source, or the image of an aperture produced by a condenser system. If this system has aberrations, such as astigmatism or spherical aberration, the twin image will be no longer sharp but will appear blurred, as if viewed through a system with twice the aberrations of the condenser. In either case the correct image of the object can be effectively isolated from its twin, and separately observed. Three-dimensional objects can be reconstructed, as well as two-dimensional. The wave used in the reconstruction need not be the original, it can be, for example, a lightoptical imitation of the electron wave with which the diffraction diagram was taken. Thus it becomes possible to extend the idea of Sir Lawrence Bragg's 'X-ray microscope' to arbitrary objects, and use the new method for improvements in electron microscopy. The apparatus will consist of two parts, an electronic device in which a diffraction pattern is taken with electrons diverging from a fine focus, and an optical synthetizer, which imitates the essential data of the electronic device on a much enlarged scale. The theory of the analysis-synthesis cycle is developed, with a discussion of the impurities arising in the reconstruction, and their avoidance. The limitations of the new method are due chiefly to the small intensities which are available in coherent beams, but it appears perfectly feasible to achieve a resolution limit of 1 angstrom, ultimately perhaps even better.