to see or not to see : sheen and shadow

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In the blog post “LaTeX and Metafont” two projects which massively scan in books were mentioned. Another mentionable project is the Gutenberg project. Here one can find e.g. the book of

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Hand Shadows by Henry Bursill

“Hand Shadows to Be Thrown upon the Wall” by Henry Bursill from 1859. Everybody knows this situation: there is a strong video projector light, people sit and wait for some show or talk and someone will start to make hand shadows. It is almost impossible to detain people from playing this facinating game of projections from 3 to 2 dimensions.

Cultural life has taken account of this fact. This manifests itself in the chinese and javan or turkish (which seems to come from ancient egypt) shadow play and extends to Henri Riviere’s shadow theatre at the black cat (where also one of my favorites Erik Satie worked).

Or- in more modern times: shadows reach from the pinscreen animations of Alexeieff and Parker to optical experiments with sculpture like the ones of Shigeo Fukuda (also featured by Al Seckel and Douglas Hofstadter) and hip YBA (young british artists) Tim Noble and Sue Webster with their very nice junk-love-shadow-light sculptures (e.g. Dirty White Trash with gulls) sold by Saatchi Gallery (where one could may be mention that this gallery is known for their inventive politics to promote their blog).

A projection usually means to leave away information or -like in the case of shadow puppets- to impose that there seems to be more information. This may lead to illusions. Optical illusions at least.

One Response to “to see or not to see : sheen and shadow”

  1. randform » Blog Archive » Der richtige Fo kus Says:

    [...] What may look at a first glance like as a cruel persistence of vision experiment or like an odd way to take photographs is a comment on the different properties of materials. The above experiment is the opposite of a shadow play (e.g. here or here) in that it uses a “sculpture” of magnifying glasses for collecting light in order to burn an eye-shaped imprint on a paper. (more images after the text) [...]

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