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Holocenter Brings Light-Bending Art to Governors Island This Summer

 The Holocenter is open through the summer on Governors Island.
Holocenter on Governors Island
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GOVERNORS ISLAND — Off a leafy path on Governors Island, a historic home has become the city’s center for a light-bending form of art: holograms.

The Center for Holographic Arts, also known as the Holocenter, has taken over a 19th century building with quirky hologram exhibits and workshops for the summer.

“Essentially, these are images that are sculptures of light,” said Dr. Martina Mrongovius, the Holocenter’s director. “This is interactive, where art and science meet — and it feels like we’re capturing a bit of magic.”

The Holocenter brought its art, made using diffracted light, to Governors Island after losing its space inside Long Island City’s Clock Tower building in 2014.

This is the second summer season the center has set up shop in the old Victorian home, said Mrongovius, and it's enjoying the “increased foot traffic.”

“It’s been wonderful having people just wander in and be really excited by what they find,” Mrongovius said, herself a holographic artist. “People used to have to seek us out a bit more in our previous space and now we get a lot of ‘oh, wow what’s this’ from people popping in, along with holographic artists who’ve specifically made the trip to see us.”

And Mrongrovius said they like to encourage that kind of wonderment with holograms, it's what the art form is all about.

As some high school age visitors meandered in on a recent afternoon, Mrongovius’s husband, Harun Triplett, who also works in the center, gave them some enthusiastic instruction.

“This is all about interaction, without touching anything,” he told the smiling teens. “I like to say ‘we do the holodance’ — you move up and down, left and right, take your time, stand far away, then come closer in, all to get the full effect of the hologram.”

A walk through several dimly lit rooms, with creaky wood and peeling paint walls, adds to the spooky feel of the some the pieces.

On display now are what Triplett calls some of the classics of holography, with art from artists all over the world. Some pieces span back to the 1970s.

One piece, by artist Ray Park, called Co-existence: Banana, captures the “light body” or “soul” of the banana, Triplett said. A 3-D image in light of the banana, which appears suspended in glass, hovers above an old banana peel.

“It’s like life and death,” Triplett said. “The memory you have for someone will remain perfect, even though they may be gone, withered away.”

Also on exhibit are a series of portraits constructed from laser light, from artist Ana Maria Nicholson. Images of people including broadcaster Walter Cronkite, singer Tony Bennett, and artist Keith Haring seem to move and transform as you walk by them and peer at the portraits from different angles.

As the summer moves on, the center will also host several workshops and rotate exhibits, Mrongovius said. Head to their website for more information.

Ultimately, Mrongrovius said she hopes the center will have a permanent, year-round home on Governors Island.

The Holocenter is open 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and by appointment during the week.