Sound Shadows

Sound Shadows is a new Polyglot work created by Creative Coder Steph O’Hara as part of the Generator program.
At its basic level, Sound Shadows is a playful space for participants engaging with sound and light through projection and mapping of bodies in space to create sound and shape. Unlike many other interactive digital experiences though, Sound Shadows is an ever-changing, nuanced and intriguing world that the participant never quite understands. There is no loop, no recognition of pattern or purpose – it is an ever-changing palette and as such – totally absorbing.

In the experience, your shadow – clear and sharp - is joined by another shape that matches your own – an abstract form that can be similar in shape to your human one, or shards of light and blobs of jewel-like colour. This shape becomes your companion, your adversary, your ghost self, your aura as it changes shape and form, reacting to your movement. The sounds respond too, swelling and speeding with large gestures and constantly shifting in tone and feel. The sound is an immersive element that supports play, drives character and drama, and holds the child in a total, imaginative world. The ever changing and complex variety of tonal shifts sit behind, under and in between the child, their shadow and their shadow’s shadow.
It’s a magnetic experience that sees participants perform extraordinary moves to active response, without self-consciousness or inhibition.

Once the relationship between the live human and the digital image is realised, the drama begins. Imagination takes over and suddenly you are fighting a giant, or gently reaching out to a shy alien, or filled with crackling power as another shadow crouches at your feet. As more people join the play, the world created becomes complex and interconnected as all the single journeys and choices are linked and changed by more bodies in the space.

Sound Shadows has endless possibilities. Because each participant is mapped as they enter the space, their physical contribution is picked up no matter what their engagement. Little or no movement elicits a satisfying response as well as big and fast. The experience is deeply enjoyable, compelling in its endless offer, and enormous fun.
We have seen it work for children aged 6 to adults – the play is very similar, the relationship between strangers in the shared space easy and joyous. The spectator to the work is treated to a strange, wonderful often hilarious visual extravaganza, as the three worlds work together – the live human, their shadow and the shadow of the shadow.

“That was SO fun” Hux aged 8

Steph O’Hara - lead artist, creative coder and sound artist
Peter Walker – visual programmer
Tina Douglas - interactive sound and visual artist

shadowplay prototype from soh_la on Vimeo.