Early on artists saw the potential of holography as a medium and gained access to science laboratories to create their work. Holographic art is often the result of collaborations between scientists and artists, although some "holographers" would regard themselves as both an artist and scientist.
Salvador Dalí claimed to have been the first to employ holography artistically. He was certainly the first and best-known surrealist to do so, but the 1972 New York exhibit of Dalí holograms had been preceded by the holographic art exhibition which was held at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan in 1968 and by the one at the Finch College gallery in New York in 1970, which attracted national media attention.
During the 1970s a number of arts studios and schools were established, each with their particular approach to holography. Notably there was the San Francisco School of holography established by Llyod Cross, The Museum of Holography in New York founded by Rosemary (Possie) H. Jackson, the Royal College of Art in London and the Lake Forest College Symposiums organized by Tung Jeong (T.J). None of these studios still exist, however there is the Center for the Holographic Arts in New York and the HOLOcenter in Seoul which offer artists a place to create and exhibit work.
A small but active group of artists use holography as their main medium and many more artists integrate holographic elements into their work. The MIT Museum and Jonathan Ross both have extensive collections of holography and on-line catalogues of art holograms
Since the beginning of holography, experimenters have explored the uses of holography. Starting in 1971 Lloyd Cross started the San Francisco School of Holography and started to teach amateurs the methods of making holograms with inexpensive equipment. This method relied on the use of a large table of deep sand to hold the optics rigid and damp vibrations that would destroy the image.
Many of these holographers would go on to produce art holograms. In 1983, Fred Unterseher published the Holography Handbook, a remarkably easy to read description of making holograms at home. This brought in a new wave of holographers and gave simple methods to use the then available AGFA silver halide recording materials.
In 2000 Frank DeFreitas published the Shoebox Holography Book and introduced using inexpensive laser pointers to countless hobbyists. This was a very important development for amateurs as the cost for a 5mw laser dropped from $1200 to $5 as semiconductor laser diodes reached mass market. Now there are hundreds to thousands of amateur holographers worldwide.
In 2006 a large number of surplus Holography Quality Green Lasers (Coherent C315) became available and put Dichromated Gelatin (DCG) within the reach of the amateur holographer. The holography community was surprised at the amazing sensitivity of DCG to green light. It had been assumed that the sensitivity would be non existent. Jeff Blythe responded with the G307 formulation of DCG to increase the speed and sensitivity to these new lasers.
Many film suppliers have come and gone from the silver halide market. While more film manufactures have filled in the voids, many amateurs are now making their own film. The favorite formulations are Dichromated Gelatin, Methylene Blue Sensitised Dichromated Gelatin and Diffusion Method Silver Halide preparations. Jeff Blythe has published very accurate methods for making film in a small lab or garage.
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