Shaw Shadows

Shaw Shadows is an interactive architectural light installation, custom-designed for a 60-foot by 120-foot blank wall adjacent to the Waltha T. Daniel (Shaw) Library in Washington, DC for Art All Night: Nuit Blanche DC in September 2015.

The installation uses robotic lights to display enormous silhouettes of pedestrians in the grassy lot below, as if they were in a huge shadow theater. Marked areas allow children and adults to step in and see their shadow five stories high. They are encouraged to perform, dance, make shadow puppets, and play. The system cycles through multiple display modes, encouraging friends and strangers to interact and transform themselves into performers for the city.

About 27,000 people came to the event; this installation was a centerpiece of the Shaw neighborhood.

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Original proposal (PDF). The approach changed a bit from the original idea, which was for a computer-assisted projection. Straight, “analog” shadows proved to be a much better (and simpler!) approach.