The Authentic Hologram

In Travels in Hyperreality, Umberto Eco describes holography as an expressive art and science that "could prosper only in America, a country obsessed with realism, where, if a reconstruction is to be credible, it must be absolutely iconic, a perfect likeness, a 'real' copy of the reality being represented."

How ironic then that the hologram, "real" copy of the reality being represented, is now used, because of the technical complexity of its reproduction, as a marker of "authenticity" and therefore of value in domains with significant threat of counterfeit, from paper currency and credit cards to driver's licenses and passports to sports merchandise and memorabilia. The authentic fake used to distinguish between authentic and fake.

MLB Holograms

While our focus is on the visual element, we cannot forget that this hologram is usually paired with a unique number or code on each produced object — that is, we are describing a tracking-image that marks authenticity for the vectors of power seeking to maintain control over their stocks of value. But ultimately it is the visual element that assumes priority, since it may provide a glossy brand recognition above and beyond its security appeal. In other words, through its slick recognizability the hologram has achieved an iconic status associated with authenticity and may actually be more trusted from a consumer perspective than other forms, such as RFID.


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