Gallery installation view

Analogue virtual worlds:
Display holography at the dawn of cyberspace

 Selected from the Jonathan Ross Collection by Sydney Koke


16 May – 16 June 2024

Private View:
Thursday May 16th   6.30 – 8.30pm

Sunday June 16th  12 – 3pm

Open Days:
Wednesdays 22, 29 May & 5, 12 June 12.00 – 6pm


Viewing by appointment at other times.

For further information contact Jonathan Ross:
Phone 07747 807576

The late 80s and early 90s were an exciting period for display holography, which was employed by numerous artists at the Royal College of Art in London. Holography had been established as a high-fidelity imaging technique, and artists began to look beyond this application. They created abstract compositions with unique temporal and spatial qualities, explored the psychological and spiritual properties of pattern and spatial position, developed new approaches to portraiture, and uncovered the inherent limitations or “glitches” associated with the medium. Their works often featured intense colours, bold and sometimes disorienting compositions, and eerie subject matter, and these themes have since become strongly associated with the medium as a whole. Accordingly, the holograms created during this era were influential for the work that followed, with important implications for the acceptance of holography by contemporary art critics.

As a guest curator in the Jonathan Ross collection, I wanted to examine the roots of some of the characteristic aesthetic features of holography, and collect some of the most iconic works and artists active during this era. During the selection of pieces that fit this theme, it became clear that many of them had been created in the same year – 1991 – the year that the internet was first made available to the public. Accordingly, this show considers how the aesthetics of holograms from the late 80s and early 90s represent the artistic conception of virtual space just before humanity entered cyberspace. Some of the included works may reflect an increasing collective awareness of the new virtual world that was being constructed, while others may have arisen from separate concepts, and thus provide poignant examples of virtual artistic conceptions at the end of the pre-internet era. Certainly the works in this show (along with those by peers in the holography community working at this time) influenced digital artistic aesthetics, as those working in new media would have been exposed to holography as a cutting edge technology with many prospective applications.

The cyberpunk movement, largely thought to have been instigated by the publication of Neuromancer (William Gibson) in 1982, explores the dystopian possibilities of future high-tech worlds, and the existence of a virtual “cyberspace” that can be visited by humans. The eerie perceptual qualities unique to analogue holograms make them the perfect medium to explore these ideas. These include colour (the unique reds, greens, and blues produced via pure laser light are not found in nature), movement (movement in holograms can be “replayed” and reversed by the viewer), and space (holograms can be used to construct new spatial dimensions with unfamiliar laws of physics).

In “Glitch Feminism”, Legacy Russell speaks about how internet artists have constructed their own identities and expressions in the unfolding realm of cyberspace. Holography offered artists a way to explore an idea of virtual space before the internet was publicly available, and likely contributed to subsequent digital art aesthetics. Yet, few publications have linked holography to other movements in contemporary art. The internet has changed human society in ways that now demand careful reflection, and close examination of the history of holography offers an excellent opportunity to improve our understanding of the merging of art and technology at this critical moment. These works invite us to reflect on high-tech life just before the cultural dominance of the internet, and on our own experiences as we increasingly construct our lives and identities within a cyberspace of our own creation, a world to which we are becoming inextricably connected.

Sydney Koke
April 2024

Sydney Koke with Dan Schweitzer’s ‘The Sleeper’


Sydney Koke is a Canadian musician, scientist, and interdisciplinary artist based in Paris, France.

After working and studying as a neuroscientist at the University of Calgary and Duke University, Koke shifted her focus to visual art and music, receiving her MFA in interdisciplinary contemporary art from Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, in 2013. Since then she has created visual art including sculptures and holograms, as well as music with multiple projects, including her experimental electronic solo project Slaylor Moon and her all-female rock group The Courtneys.

She has toured extensively worldwide and has exhibited in Vancouver, Montreal, and New York.


In this second exhibition curated for Gallery 286, Sydney Koke has made another great selection of holograms from my collection, dating from between 1988 – 1992, which was the era during which I stopped working in the commercial holography sector and began to pursue my love of the medium as used by creative artists. At that time the Royal College of Art in London had a department dedicated to holography, equipped with the best lasers and optics as well as a reliable source of material, manufactured by Agfa-Gevaert. It was a golden era to be a holographer and most of the artists in this exhibition were at the RCA at some point and benefited from the experience of some highly skilled technicians working there. Ten years before, there was very little creative holography being done in the UK but suddenly there was lots and I was in the lucky position to be able to acquire some of it.

Seeing these holograms on the walls of the gallery again gives me a lot of pleasure and I hope that visitors who are seeing them for the first time share my delight.

Jonathan Ross
April 2024


Holograms on display

In order of appearance:


Charles Bridge


Wrapped Flowers


Sri Yantra

Moiré Squares




Science Moths and Flies




Six Lines Folded


Orgone Accelerator


Square Eclipse


Large Circles


Landscape 3


The Sleeper


The Seedmakers


Young Woman in a Dreamlike State


The Juggler

A full-colour catalogue is available for this exhibition.  You can view and download it as a pdf file, free of charge.

Use the button below which, depending on your web browser, will open a new page to view the catalogue and download it onto your device.

Look for the download icon (often in the top of your browser window).

Lenticular Prints

There is also a display of 3D and animated lenticular prints, including work by:

David Burder, Peter Blake, Patrick Boyd, Tim Bret Day, Richard Hamilton, Anthony Hopkins, Chris Levine, Jeffrey Robb, Martin Richardson and Elizabeth Sandford Richardson.