"YOU KIND OF GET attached to her."

"It'd be nice to have that around the house." "You say she winks?"

"Only at certain people."

The star of "The Wonder of Holography" show at the National Geographic is a pretty young female hologram. As you walk by her, she blows you a kiss. Then she winks. But she's just a sheet of holographic film on a cylinder with a white light shining through. A modern-day Mona Lisa with moving parts.

A pair of Colt .45s here aren't real revolvers, but just a trick -- a hologram, a record of laser light patterns that can recreate an image in 3-D. Also among the 40 holograms displayed here is one of the biggest ever, an architect's design for a science-museum park in Paris: If you can't see the image, you're probably standing in it. And there's a mysterious floating horse, 3-D from every viewpoint.

From New York City's Museum of Holography, it's this summer's gee-whiz show.

Spooky but practical, holography has moved into the supermarkets (those scanners at the checkout) and onto some credit cards (it's not easy to counterfeit a hologram) -- as well as into movies (in "Star Wars," Princess Leia appeared as a hologram) and jewelry: Here, a hologram gives a deep-sea look to the "stone" of a pendant.

Half "The Wonder of Holography" lies in the scientific, but explanations take you only so far. The rest comes on faith, where the artists take over.

"We see mysticism and science coming together, and the pinnacle is holography," says Daniel Schweitzer, whose hologram (of man and Einstein) is among the several here exploring this technological art form. By requiring that the artist first create an image and then record it, holography one-ups photography. And since the hologram appears in 3-D, it's actually light sculpture -- or energy sculpture, if you like.

"We say, if a picture is worth a thousand words, a hologram is worth a thousand pictures," says Schweitzer, who currently enjoys distorting an image or creating one where there never was one.

"My greatest thrill is to toy with your perception," he says.

Will the real hologram please stand up?

THE WONDER OF HOLOGRAPHY -- In the National Geographic Society's Explorers Hall, through October 6.