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N Dimensional Space in a One-Dimensional World: The Art of Holograms in 1970

When the hologram emerged as a medium in the late 1960s, it was met with an initial burst of enthusiasm before rapidly being marginalized from mainstream artistic practice. Despite a recent resurgence of important exhibitions featuring artists’ holograms, they remain neglected in art-historical scholarship. This article restores holograms to the narratives of art and technology circa 1970 by investigating one of the first exhibitions of holograms as art in the United States, N Dimensional Space, at the Contemporary Study Wing of the Finch College Museum of Art, New York. Relying on archival records to illuminate the elusive virtual aesthetics of artists’ early engagement with holograms, this article contends that the hologram evoked both a counterculture dream of expanding consciousness and a fear of attenuating freedom in advanced industrial societies. Ultimately, it suggests that these historical attitudes retrospectively offer an analogy through which to attend to the fantasies and anxieties circulating around recent digital culture.