Sunday, February 8, 2015

Remnance of Form

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

This installation imagines the future reality that is filled with reality-distorting technologies. Augmented reality technology will (and should) no longer suffer from its technologistic representation and override our sensory receptors, and devolve into the background of the physical world. Shadows, remnants of physical forms created through the interplay among light, object, and space, are often depicted as an incarnation of the inner nature of things. They afford a perfect space for the magic to happen, without obstructing the reality.

Remnance of Form is an interactive experience that forces one to rethink the relationship between objects and their shadows. By fusing light, projection and computer vision, the shadow can be detached from its ordinary role. It takes our perception apart from the universally governing rule of physics, and the interaction between a viewer and the shadow becomes increasingly personal. The viewer is not a mere observer of the scene but a central part of how it is interpreted.

The shadow of an object transforms and displays human characters. It is sometimes shy and thus disappears when approached, turns hostile and spiky, or morphs into various geometric shapes. This poses a stark contrast between the static nature of a dormant object and its dynamic augmentation, the programmatic shadow. Even the most mundane object becomes no longer simple or disregardable.

The organic connection between the shadow, object, light, and the hands moving the light, diminishes the border between our inner selves and the shadow. Vignette “Dream of Flying” embodies human desire to transcend physical 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 our aspiration of overcoming our biological limits and evolve into a new species.

The shadow continually switches between being a social entity and being an emotional extension of a person. This tension between different forms of agency leads one to offload a spectrum of self-reflection, and the person’s embodied interaction with the shadow becomes an internal exploration into 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