Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Shedding Light on Shadows

I performed my first shadow puppet play (or any puppet piece, for that matter) tonight at the last session of the Introduction to Shadow Puppetry class I've been taking at the Puppet Showplace Theater, taught by the Artist-in-Residence, Brad Shur.

 It's been an exciting and humbling experience to try to make the 2 dimensional black puppets bend to my will. Overall, the puppets may have won (as the inanimate often tend to when we try to animate them in any medium), but I've thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and am glad that I took a more literal and physical detour to explore the shadows and puppetry I was using metaphorically in my current project, "ShadowPlay."

Here's video documentation of my project presented at the final class; you can hear the supportive and wonderful classmates and teacher, but what you don't see are the amazing pieces the other participants created, each so different and excellent.

Delving into shadow puppetry has changed the timeline for my larger project:

Although many people understand intellectually how performance capture works to combine CGI (computer-generated imagery) and live action footage in movies like Avatar (dir. James Cameron, 2009), and are increasingly accustomed to having a graphical representation of themselves on a screen in a video game or other application, the experience of having a virtual counterpart that you can control with your body, a virtual shadow, if you will, is still novel. 

This proposed project intends to make an interactive art installation experience in which participants engage in performance animation, using motion capture technology in real time to create a character performed by the participant, raising philosophical issues about embodiment, presence, the virtual,performance, and interactivity.

Using a Unity3D environment, Kinect motion sensors, and softwarre including Max/MSP,  Delicode's NI Mate, Animata, Processing, and Adobe After Effects, participants in the interactive installation will experiment and play with projected images , shadows, animations, and controllers.

This project is generously supported by a Berklee College of Music Faculty Fellowship.