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what is a PHSCologram (skol-o-gram)?


PHSCologram ’83 by Ellen Sandor, Jim Zanzi, Mark Resch, Randy Johnson, and Gina Uhlmann, (art)n and Gary Justis, Jerry August, Tom Cvetkovich and Steven Smith. 5 32" × 48" PHSCologram panels, Cibachrome, Kodalith, Plexiglas featuring tributes to Georgia O’Keeffe, the Outsider Artist, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, and Louise Nevelson. Exhibited at SAIC, Fermilab, and other venues, and featured in the New Art Examiner cover story, January 1984. Courtesy of Ellen Sandor, (art)n.

The PHSCologram term, coined in 1983, by Ellen Sandor, is an acronym for photography, holography, sculpture and computer graphics (pronounced skol-o-gram). The PHSCologram medium inspired new ideas in multimedia circles, and influenced three decades of (art)n's collaborative portfolio, unsurpassed for its prolific range of content and innovation in digital photography.

Inspired by the process oriented works of Man Ray, Duchamp and Moholy Nagy, the early process for creating PHSColograms combined sculpture with photography, resulting in a three-dimensional photograph, viewed with rear lighting. The (art)n group Sandor formed with her peers from The School of the Art Institute in 1983 created large-scale sculptures and collaged backgrounds that were photographed 9 times at slightly different positions in a horizontal movement with a room sized camera.

These images took 30 minutes for each exposure, which were combined with a special darkroom technique to one piece of transparent, color film. A second piece of black-and- white film displaying clear vertical lines was mounted to a piece of plexiglas with the blurred, combined image mounted to the reverse. The line screen functioned as a viewing screen to interpret the transparent photograph as a three-dimensional sculpture. This process was analog and called the Early Camera Technique.

By 1990, PHSColograms became a digital photographic process, by simulating the early darkroom technique with other features common to the computer graphics industry. PHSCologram imagery is constructed from sculpting objects with a computer graphics software application. These objects are painted, and placed in a scene with lighting and other special effects. Once the digital scene is complete, a series of as many as 65 images are photographed in (art)n's proprietary art program. The interleaving for the 3D effect was performed in an analog manner in darkroom–whether moving the camera, the lens, the actual sculpture, or the computer screen. This process was called the Computer/Camera Technique.

These snapshots are captured at slightly different positions across a horizontal plane, and combined on the computer for final output to transparent film. (art)n's program also generates a matching linescreen to interpret the final mounted photograph as a three-dimensional sculpture. 

This process of photographing computer-combined images on the computer that are visible with special viewing apparatus is a patented process, invented and owned by Ellen Sandor and her colleagues.

By the mid 1990s, PHSColograms were produced using Alias and later Maya, where all imagery could be computer generated.  A  number of rendered views (about 64 frames) of a virtual scene was modeled in Maya and digitally interleaved with a proprietary software developed by (art)n, in which the first line of every image is combined with the corresponding first line, and so forth until a recombined single image is made. This blurring of images into a single piece is attached to a line screen–a black piece of film with corresponding clear lines that is affixed to a piece of plexiglas, which allows a viewer to interpret the digital photograph as a three-dimensional sculptural object when backlit. 

(art)n has worked with archival materials produced by Ilford and Kodak, and has experimented with various darkroom techniques, pre-press, and high-resolution devices including the Crosfield, LVT, Iris, Epson, Lamda, Hewlett Packard, Lightjet, and others. (art)n has worked with the highest quality photo labs in Chicago, the Midwest and California, and continues to use the darkroom, in-house, for selected projects.

(art)n has used various professional computer graphics software packages including Alias and SoftImage, in addition to Photoshop, Fractal Design Painter and other programs. (art)n first used the CyberWare scanner in 1990. Prior to 1992, early digital content was programmed in C and other languages.

PHSCologram® is a trademark of (art)n. U.S. Patent Numbers: 5,113,213, RE: 35, 029, and 5, 519, 794. 

Since 1983, (art)n has been breaking new ground with collaborative installations seen by millions of people around the globe in  museum and gallery exhibitions, and virtual showings on the Internet. (art)n has been featured in more than 180 group shows, including nine major traveling shows, complemented by 28 unique surveys of new works and retrospectives, collectively organized in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. (art)n has been written about in Chinese, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Swedish, and Spanish. Commissioned projects include works in The Smithsonian InstitutionMuseum of Contemporary ArtSanta Barbara Museum of ArtMuseum of Jewish HeritageInternational Center for Photography, and the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs Public Art Program


Final PHSCologram


web-lore: (art)n has been using the Internet since the late 1980s to collaborate with scientists and fellow artists. (art)n launched its first web site in 1993 [at its interdisciplinary research laboratory in the Chemistry Department at the Mies Van Der Rhoe designed Illinois Institute of Technology campus,] under NCSA's Mosaic web browser, before the historic 1994 launch of the Netscape IPO on the Nasdaq stock exchange. The (art)n web site was among the first to introduce web-based galleries and exhibitions, some of which only existed digitally, and featured (art)n works "remixed" with related art historical images by Man Ray, Duchamp, Brancusi, O'Keeffe and many others. Some of the idiosyncratic themes (art)n explored that became quite popular and mainstream included "All My Geniuses," "Venus Envy," and "Harlem on My Mind," which were created at (art)n's lab at  Northwestern University in Evanston. Jenny Holzer'srepresentatives requested (art)n to link to her Truisms site, and in many cases, (art)n's curation introduced post-modern, contemporary, modernist and pictorial works to new audiences. Since the fall of 1999, (art)n's studio/laboratory has been located at The School of the Art Institute's Gallery 2 building in Chicago. (art)n's site was featured as "Cool Site of the Day," and won other mid-1990s vintage web awards. A curated selection of images was included in the The Electric Postcards project designed at the  MIT Media Laboratory. (art)n's daily web site traffic [measured in "hit" counts] at one time matched that of Wired magazine. 

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