Vacant Solitudes

Publication: Vacant Solitudes

…as I looked into the Richardson holographic portrait of me clutching the large paperback Psycho, these diffuse ideas really began to come into focus without the parallax problem from which most written essays about holography suffer. My first reaction was 'it's like a death mask'! Imagine the feelings of those closest to me, if they only had this image in front of them - and I had gone. A reaction similar to that described by Roland Barthes when looking at a family snapshot; an immediate sense of loss - of a moment which will never happen again. But as I looked closer, the 'mask'idea got stronger: this was more like a wax-work, lifelike but lifeless, with that curiously plastic quality to the flesh but without the waxy smell. Next, it looked more like a caricature drawing -with certain parts of the face (cheeks, nose, chin) pulled towards the mirror reflecting the pulse laser: like a slight, but discernible 3D version of that venerable Hollywood special effect known as 'bone stretching'.

Then, the penny dropped - like it used to in those amusement arcades on the ends of piers (the 1950s equivalent of where all those hollowgrams end up today). Holography wasn't a simple mirror, it was an elaborate construction. Holography wasn't a message, it was a medium. Holography wasn't art, any more than Air-brush is art: but it did contain that possibility, so long as it shed all those hang-ups about being a fascimile of nature which is exactly where Martin Richardson's work begins...

- Christopher Frayling, Professor of Cultural History, RCA.

Download a PDF of Vacant Solitudes
(8 pages, 2mb, ©Martin Richardson 1991)