A Bar at the Folies Bergère

This work revisits A Bar at the Folies Bergère by Manet (1881-82) by enabling the viewer to participate through interaction with the characters in the painting.

Upon entering the space, viewers may notice the barmaid moving about while prepping herself. Fully positioned in front of the work, viewers see themselves reflected in the mirror of the painting. The previous patron, seen in the upper right corner, leaves. The barmaid, if not already “alive,” comes to life. She looks at the viewer and refuses to serve him or her.

If the barmaid is annoyed or tired, then she will leave. Only when everyone leaves the space will she return.

The work is comprised of static images, live video, and movie files composited together in real-time using OpenGL. Through vision tracking algorithms the computer determines the number and location of viewers then updates the appropriate action for the barmaid.

This work was produced with Shawn Lawson.