Sunday, February 8, 2015

Remnance of Form

Sang-won Leigh, Asta Roseway, Ann Paradiso, and Chris O'Dowd

Shadows, remnants of physical forms created through the interplay among light, object, and space, are often depicted as an incarnation of inner nature of things. Not an exact copy of the forms, the projective nature of light results in distorted shadows. It is no different from human perception, where the subjective falls apart from the objective. As read in “remnance” in the title, our “plastic” and “personal” interfacing with the world is captured through programmatic modifications of a shadow.

The shadow of an object (a globe painted in white) transforms and displays human characters. It is sometimes shy and thus disappears when approached, turns hostile and spiky, or morphs into various geometric shapes. The light bulb can be moved or swung like a pendulum, where such actions could reveal hidden faces of the shadow. This poses a stark contrast between the static nature of a dormant object and its dynamic augmentation - the programmatic shadow. Even the most mundane objects become no longer simple or disregardable.

Once a person touches the light, s/he discovers a fluid and nearly organic connection between hands, the object, and its shadow. The shadow then becomes a bodily extension, a surrogate for channelling one’s personal images and imaginations. Vignette “Dream of Flying” embodies the human desire to transcend biological limits and defy gravity. A flying shadow is perceived as a distant wonder at first sight, however, one soon realizes it is the dream inhabiting our deepest inside. It is an externalized aspiration to evolve into a new species.

The shadow continually switches between being a social entity and being an extension of a person. This tension between different forms of agency leads to a spectrum of self-reflection, where a bodily interaction with the shadow also becomes an exploration into one’s inner avenues. The behavior of the shadow demystifies as the exploration goes one, and the introspection unfolds in parallel.


The entire installation was set up in a cubic structure of 8 feet x 8 feet x 8 feet. Three entities (a white ball, a light bulb, and a shadow) are presented to the viewers. Using Kinect and Pointgrey cameras, we track the viewers’ activities as well as the position of the ball and the light bulb. The shadow’s size/position is computed based on tracked positions of the ball and the light bulb; therefore, moving either of them will change the size and position of the shadow. An Optoma projector is used to create lighting and shadow effects.

Through five unique vignettes – Disappearing, Showing Fear, Changing Shape, Dream of Flying, and Possessing the Ball, we demonstrate interactions that involve varying degree of whimsical behavior, tweaking of the shadow’s shape, and viewers’ engagement into the narrative.

Created using openFrameworks, Pointgrey Chameleon, projector, Kinect, lightbulb, paint and globe.

Exhibited at Microsoft Research Building 99. Aug - Sep 2014.
Art.CHI 2015 Exhibition, 2015 [Catalogue]
S. Leigh, A. Roseway, and A. Paradiso. Remnance of Form: Interactive Narratives with Augmented Shadows, CHI 2015 Video Showcase, 2015
Sang-won Leigh, Asta Roseway, and Ann Paradiso, and Pattie Maes. Remnance of Form: Interactive Narratives through Unexpected Behaviors of a Shadow, CHI 2015 Interactivity, 2015 [PDF]
Sang-won Leigh, Asta Roseway, and Ann Paradiso. Altered Reflection of Physical Reality, TEI 2015 Arts Exhibition, 2015 [PDF]

*Part of Video and Photographs credited to Microsoft Research Media