Musical Shadows is an interactive pavement that reacts to the shadows of passersby by playing sounds of singing voices. The piece was created for the Mesa Arts Centre, Arizona, known to be the sunniest state. Custom tiles in the pavement play singing voices when shadows are cast upon them. As visitors together explore different soundscapes with their shadows, they become part of a collective sound and body performance. This new scenario for public space engages strangers to bump up against one another and share a moment of magic igniting in them a sense of what is possible together.
Shadows cast on different tiles trigger different voices, all singing in harmony. Length of shadow is dependent on the season, the time, and the weather. The result is that a visitor may never quite cast the same shadow twice; it will vary in length, direction, and intensity. The sounds themselves also change with the angle of the sun, making playing with the installation a dynamic experience: entirely different for a visitor encountering it in the morning, the midday, the evening, and at night.
Though all the audio originates with recordings of the human voice, a large variety of sounds and moods are created throughout the day. The sounds triggered in the morning are peaceful and ethereal: sustained choral tones that follow your long shadow, singing you into your day. Later, when the sun is hot overhead, and shadows are shorter, the sounds are chopped and frenetic, creating a rhythmic, energetic soundtrack. Nearing sunset, as the shadows become long again, clusters of complementary, interlocking melodies are triggered. Finally, after dark, the sounds harken toward the natural landscape: insect or bird-like vocal sounds evoke a nocturnal meadow as darkness sets in.