Christa Sommerer, Laurent Mignonneau

Portrait on the Fly


Artist / Artist group
Christa Sommerer, Laurent Mignonneau
Portrait on the Fly
Edition / Serial number
8 + 2AP
Copy Number
installation, computer-based
Material / Technique
Computer (PC, operating system: Windows 10, individual software), video camera, monitor
Dimensions / Duration
dimensions variable, 55’’ screen
ZKM | Center for Art and Media

In the interactive installation »Portrait on the Fly«, about 10,000 computer-generated flies can initially be seen buzzing around on a monitor. As soon as visitors stop to look at the work, the flies reposition themselves on the screen within a few seconds: The contours of the viewer can quickly be recognized. This is made possible by image recognition software that extracts the outlines and edges from the video images it receives from the camera above the monitor. The flies are not programmed to depict anything in particular, but follow an algorithm that tells them to remain in dark or high-contrast areas of the recorded image. They are constantly in motion and arrange themselves anew again and again. Even a small movement causes the image to dissolve and the flies to reposition themselves.

The fly animated in the work is an art historical symbol of mortality and death. The work by Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau thus ties in with the tradition of the Memento Mori, an artistic motif intended to remind the viewer of the finiteness of his or her life.

Author: Hanna Jurisch