Holograms & Anamorphoses, Cubism & Trompe l'Oeil

Simone Forti, Bug Jump, 1975-1978. Museum of  Contemporary Art. Proposed purchase with funds provided by the Acquisition and Collection Committee
There is an unexpected rhyme between two exhibitions now on Grand Ave. MOCA's "Simone Forti" contains several of the dance artist's cylindrical holograms, created in collaboration with holographer Lloyd Cross in the 1970s. Across the street, the Broad's "William Kentridge: In Praise of Shadows" has an anamorphic drawing created for the 2007 film What Will Come. This is a distorted circular drawing that comes together only when viewed in a cylindrical mirror. Both Forti's holograms and Kentridge's drawing are experienced by walking around them in a semi-circular path.

Each of these works is an attempt to capture time and space under more-or-less impossible constraints. Forti is a choreographer, a form of expression that is notoriously hard to document. The holograms transform brief moments of Forti's movements into colorful images that are both uncannily real and spectral. In Lloyd's experimental process, Forti performed on a rotating platform as her actions were captured by a movie camera. The viewer who walks around the hologram experiences a shifting perspective as well as the passage of time.

William Kentridge, Drawing for "What Will Come," 2007. Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York
Kentridge takes up another pictorially problematic theme, war. This is the stuff of history painting, but what does war look like? A Meissonier salon machine, Fenton's Valley of the Shadow of Death, or today's drone journalism? Kentridge's What Will Come treats the horrors of the second Italo-Ethiopian war (1935-1937) at a certain remove. An anamorphosis is typically created using curved grids. Kentridge took a more intuitive approach, sketching while looking into a curved mirror.  The drawing is displayed on a circular table with a cylindrical mirror. The resulting film is, much like Forti's holograms, a rotating shot of the drawing and mirror as Kentridge employs his stop-motion animation of erasure. 

Simone Forti, Huddle, 1975-1978. Art Institute of Chicago
Forti and Cross' holograms exemplify the Art+Technology 1970s. They were perceived as futuristic, much as AI art is today. Kentridge's postmodern strategy is the opposite, intended to be perceived as steampunk. Yet the passage of time has erased much of the difference. The Flintstones and Jetsons are equally retro.

The nominal project of cubism was to depict subject matter from different viewpoints simultaneously, a goal realized almost precisely by Forti and Lloyd's holograms. The Metropolitan Museum's "Cubism and the Trompe l'Oeil Tradition" explores how Braque, Picasso, and Gris made art from the motifs of trompe l'oeil painting, a genre that was popular but critically dismissed. You can say much the same of holograms and anamorphoses. ("Why have there been no great hologram artists?"

Kentridge's What Will Come film is not in the Broad show, but you can get an idea of it from online videos.