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Doctor Laser: Inside the wondrous lab of one of the world's last holographers

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Meet "Doctor Laser"
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jason Sapan, aka Doctor Laser, has devoted his life to holograms
  • Sapan has created holographic portraits of Andy Warhol, Bill Clinton, Isaac Asimov
  • His laser lighting has been used in print ads for Macy's and a "Flock of Seagulls" music video
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Brooklyn, New York (Motherboard.tv) -- Jason Sapan, as his birth certificate calls him, is sort of like a laser Doc Brown, and his cluttered New York studio-laboratory (replete with devoted interns) feels something like a time machine, a living ode to a seemingly obsolete art. But listen to him tell his story, take a look around his space, and you might agree that there's no more accurate way of representing the world than with holography.

The walls bear witness to his cachet at the height of the holographic era: Andy Warhol, Pierre Cardin, Cher, Bill Clinton, Sally Jesse Raphael, Ed Koch and Isaac Asimov have all sat for Doctor Laser.

His laser lighting has been used at the original Studio 54, on CBS, in print advertising for Macy's and Revlon, on Broadway, for book and magazine covers, and a number of music videos, including a starring role in one by "Flock of Seagulls" which landed him the first on-air credit in a video on MTV. In 2001, the producers of Vanilla Sky asked him to help them design a saxophone-playing hologram (Rest assured: it had nothing to do with this.)

Watch the rest of Doctor Laser at Motherboard.tv

While colorful, moving holograms that float in midair remain the stuff of science-fiction, Doctor Laser has pieced together a reality that's much stranger: his studio in Midtown Manhattan, tucked into a former blacksmith's forge, is a veritable wonder cabinet of dancing 3-D imagery, flashing lasers and homemade holography equipment.

"To be able to take the ordinary, and work with whatever's at hand, and turn it into a technological miracle" is what Doctor Laser says excites him most. "'You could have picked this up at Radio Shack. Why are you building it yourself, Doctor?' he says, imitating one of his gaggle of mad, devoted interns. "Because I can."

However, being one of the last people at the party is always tough, and in spite of current 3-D obsessions, getting the world to come back to the party seems even tougher. But he's not giving up. Besides providing lasers for wild parties, music videos, school trips and being commissioned by a former candidate for the presidency of Uruguay to produce eight original pieces, he's determined to see that President Obama becomes the first sitting president to pose for a hologram.

"Delusion isn't always a bad thing," he says. Neither is illusion -- especially when it's made with homemade lenses and lasers.

[TECH: NEWSPULSE]

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