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Photograph of hologram artist Paula Dawson by John Tranter. R112/15

Photograph of hologram artist Paula Dawson, 26 May 1994, by John Tranter. R112/15

To Absent Friends

Let’s visit the largest holographic installation in the world. It’s titled ‘To Absent Friends’, which sounds sad and complicated, but relax: it’s simply a bar; a local bar situated somewhere back there in the seventies, a boxed-off space where a grainy red glow trembles in the air and nothing is what it seems. The martinis are dry, with two olives: that seems about right.
     Pools of ruby light ripple in the three mirrors behind the bar ― the past, the present, and the future. The woman behind ‘The Bar of the Folies-Bergère’ comes to mind, with her bored air and her bottles of English beer. You lift your drink, and its reflection hovers just under the polished surface of the bar, waiting for its echo to return. In the noisy room are other people and the sound of voices; flowers, and paintings of flowers. You realise that the art of gathering light is balanced by the gift of spending it.
     A glove reaches for itself.
     The light wave strikes the mirror, and begins its endless journey into the past.