Finally, someone has come up with a use for holograms better than making it look as though dead pop stars are still somehow alive and performing. An ingenious short film called Holorama: An Optical Theatre by Jeff Desom presents a dazzling application of the technology: recreating iconic movie moments in spectral, three-dimensional form, albeit at Lilliputian size. Desom teamed up with model builder Oli Pesch to create a series of what he calls “boxes” or “things.” Each box contains a diorama depicting a famous movie location, such as the now-demolished Hollywood Star Lanes bowling emporium from The Big Lebowski. And onto each diorama, through what Desom refers to as “a simple holographic process,” a flickering, transparent image of a moving character (e.g., John Turturro obscenely licking and polishing a purple bowling ball) is projected. The set-up sounds wonky, but the results are astonishing. Desom and Pesch have managed to create vignettes in which well-known movie locations appear to be haunted by the ghosts of departed actors. This might seem to be incredibly new, but Desom says the project was “inspired by the great tradition of optical theaters,” a lineage that goes back to 1890s France and the work of Charles-Émile Reynaud.
Better yet, Desom has chosen some tasty scenes to recreate here. Besides The Big Lebowski, Holorama features simulacrums of Jason And The Argonauts (Jason fighting the skeletons), Twin Peaks (The Man From Another Place dancing for Agent Cooper), Apocalypse Now (Martin Sheen ominously rising from the muck), and E.T. (Elliott flying on his bike, silhouetted against the moon). The short film, if anything too brief, gives viewers a glimpse at the construction of the models. These are little masterpieces in their own right, filled with painstaking detail: furniture, sets, and props, all meticulously recreated at dollhouse scale. For those whose curiosity has been piqued, further documentation of the project can be found here.