Proposal for An Exhibition of Literary Holography

Richard Kostelanetz has produced holograms that differ from other holography in that their entire visual content is language. The first, On Holography (1978), is a revolving cylinder containing five syntactically circular statements about holography itself. One technical detail that makes this film hologram puzzling is that the five lines appear to revolve in unison, even though they are of demonstrably different lengths. By itself, On Holography has previously been exhibited in group shows at New York’s Museum of Holography and elsewhere; it was also included in Richard Kostelanetz’s traveling retrospective, Wordsand (1978-). The cylinder is 16 1/2" in diameter, 9” high, and rests on a revolving stand that is itself 17" high. Accompanying it is an audiotape of the same words in continuous loops; but while this audio compliment can aid comprehension, it need not be played constantly, if at all. The second hologram, Antitheses (1985), is a two-sided framed glass, hung in space, 10" x 16" that contains opposing fields of complementary words, one side suggesting warmth, the other cold, with antithetical words in typographic pairs; and in each field, the words fall into four planes projecting forward from the plate, optimally to points two feet in front of the plate (itself a state-of-the-art achievement). Although this pure hologram is ideally laser-viewable, it can be displayed successfully with a halogen lamp, requiring at least ten feet of viewing space on each side; it is presently installed in a structure of short poles, chains and Plexiglas mirrors that is easily transportable. In the late 1980s Kostelanetz produced a series of simpler transmission holograms meant to be viewed from only one side: Ho/Log/Rap/Her, Ho/Log/Rap/Hy, Madam/Adam, Abracadabra, Ambiguity, Hell/Elle..

Literary Holography will be a small exhibition, easily installed, that would inhabit a darkened space of roughly 500 square feet. Possible sponsors (museums, galleries, libraries) seriously wishing to consider photographs or slides of the two extant holograms, as well as an extended 5,000-word essay about them, are advised to contact either the artist. Thank you.