Magic of Light and OptoClones in St. Petersburg

ITMO University together with the Hellenic Institute of Holography will host the Magic of Light exhibition as part of the International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies in St. Petersburg. The exhibition will feature holograms of the Faberge Easter eggs’ optical clones, among other exciting items. Alkis Lembessis, the Director of the Hellenic Institute of Holography, explains what led him to Russia and why optical holography scientists make history.

- Hellenic Institute of Holography was founded in 1987. You have been developmening these technologies in your country for almost thirty years, and now are cooperating with Russia. Why did you choose St. Petersburg?
 
- Your city is the historic homeland of optical holography. Yuri Denisyuk, its founder, lived and worked here. And our work with the ITMO University colleagues is a direct continuation of his work. Our OptoClones are the improved colorful Professor Denisyuk’s holograms. Besides, St. Petersburg is considered to be the cultural capital of Russia and is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. We would like to make its museum treasures and historical relics more accessible to people via modern technology.
 
ITMO University, our reliable partner, played a big role in the fact that we are now working with the St. Petersburg Faberge Museum. ITMO University is already among the world's top universities and growing rapidly. It hosts interesting interdisciplinary research not only with Russian but also with foreign partners.
 
- How long have you been collaborating with ITMO University?

- Our collaboration has begun a few years ago. We were attracted by the ITMO University Optical Museum, led by Sergey Stafeev, the Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences. One of the most significant projects is the Light Mysteries exhibition, which was organized jointly by the Hellenic Institute of Holography and ITMO University at the Natural History Museum of Crete, Heraklion in 2013. The exhibition wasn’t devoted to holographic images only, but also to optical illusions and three-dimensional video. In addition, we have a common partner – the Crete Foundation for Research and Technology. 
 
- At what stage is the implementation of your new project?
 
- Since the signing of a partnership agreement between the Faberge Museum, the Hellenic Institute of Holography and  ITMO University in September last year we’ve come to St. Petersburg for the second time. During the first visit, we updated a work plan. It was necessary to find out exactly what exhibits were to clone. Another important question was the ready holograms lighting. Our optical clones will travel around the world and, therefore, their lighting system should be easy to adapt to any museum sites. At this time Andreas Sarakinos, the scientific director of our institute, came with us.
 
Now we are preparing our unique equipment to send to St. Petersburg. Around the end of February it will be delivered; then we will start the exhibits creation. By the beginning of March we will have some optical clones created. In early July, the St. Petersburg citizens and the International Symposium on Display Holography (ISDH) guests will be able to see the OptoClones at the Magic of Light exhibition.
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