Ferdinand de Saussure, Cours de linguistique généreale (1916), Paris 1972.


That is not the case in my work. I developed a special system in order to make holopoems that are visually unstable, i.e., holopoems that oscillate, fluctuate, change, disappear, metamorphize and undergo a whole repertoire of actions that I have implemented in order to create the kinds syntax that best suited each holopoem. The way I look at it is this: static images or static texts give the viewer the comfortable illusion of stability. The world is a chaotic place in perpetual transformation. Immutable text and immutable image represent a step away from this chaotic flux of the world. The entire pictorial material of an image presents itself fully and holistically to you. This gives you the illusion of unity; the stable image symbolically stands for the possibility of unity of meaning; the idea that disparate elements can come together to form a meaningful whole. This gives you the illusion of stability between signs and their referents, i.e., that there is a stable relationship between language and things in the world. It gives you the illusion of the possibility of unification of meaning, when in reality meaning is in endless flux and is the object of perpetual negotiation. I wanted to produce the lived experience of a constant unhinging of the signifier/signified, the undoing of what we inherited from Saussure. [2] I wanted to create this new art and I understood that it would have to be created in a medium that enabled the direct experience of verbal/visual instability. In the 1980s holography was this medium. In 1987 I made my first digital holopoem (let’s be clear: a digital holopoem is not seen on a computer screen; it is a true hologram) because I realized I could use digital techniques to further extend the instability I wanted to create.

T.H.: You are discussing stability and instability on the level of the signifier and the signified. I would like to discuss this question again by focusing on the temporality of the image. Many studies have emphasized the relevance of a concept of temporality also for static images. For example, when we think about the use of composition or pictorial structure in early modernism and its relation with time and animation: Temporality was a continuous motif in the reflections of many artists, who were producing static images, like Robert Delaunay did here in Paris.

E.K.: You said it yourself: in this case it’s a motif, a theme. This is a metaphorical use of the word temporality because the picture itself is a finite, static, immutable material composition — which may allude to or borrow from actual moving media or objects, such as cinema and airplanes. In the age of real moving images, you can’t literally say a painting has temporality; only as a trope can you say it and you have to be straightforward about it. When the material reality of the object of study does not match the conceptual ambitions of theorists, they sometimes succumb to conceptual temptations to make it conform.

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