Universes in Universe - Worlds of Art

49th Venice Biennale
10 June - 4 November 2001

Venice / 2001 / Pavilions / Taiwan


Shu-Min Lin: Interview
From an interview by Pat Binder and Gerhard Haupt.

I've been working on my piece »Glass Ceiling« since 1997. I already showed it at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, where it was three times as big as it is now. It's a wonderful experience to show this work here, because the building meant for the Taiwan Pavilion used to be a prison. The piece actually fits really well into such a context.

My hologram shows images of people from more than 40 different countries, both men and women, and of all ages (between seven and eighty-one).

In a way, the piece creates the malicious feeling of walking on someone's head or face. It therefore confronts the audience with a kind of negation of the other, which occurs in human behavior on a physical, as well as on a psychological level. In the work, this kind of elimination doesn't only occur when you go through the room and walk on the tiles, but also when your shadow obscures one of the holograms.

The realization of this kind of a hologram is much more complex than that of normal ones, like for instance the embossing holograms mass-produced for credit cards. The ones that I make are much more complicated, and therefore more unusual. By the way, each of them is an original.

To make them, you need a laser and the proper equipment. Using the laser, the image is recorded on a plate. It's like with a CD that stores sounds or data. Similarly, the hologram stores the light information on a glass plate covered with an emulsion, which in this case is covered with tempered glass to protect against scratches. When a halogen light shines on the plate at a certain angle, the image reappears. Many people believe that it's a projection, as if the lights above were projectors, but this is not the case.

The laser beam is projected onto the bodies and faces of the models. When the beams hit the surface of the skin, they are reflected back to the plate and recorded. At the same time another laser is projected, what we call a reference beam. When the two meet and combine, it forms a pattern: the interference pattern. That's how the image is created that lurks in the plate as if it's in a little prison. When a normal light shines on it, the image is visible as a hologram.
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© Interview, photos:
Gerhard Haupt & Pat Binder