The Pearl Divers
Dancing with your shadow
Dancing with your shadow
In the warmest areas of the world, the sun sets the pace of life. When cities become unliveable because of their scalding concrete, creating shaded areas in public spaces becomes a priority. Musical Shadows plays with this tension to show that another type of urban life is possible whatever the climate.
Designed to be in direct relationship with the sun, this installation is an interactive pavement that plays music with light. Passers-by are invited to explore how their shadows trigger musical notes, and how they can express themselves with their whole body in public space.
Permanent Installation Since 2016
Mesa, AZ, USA
The movement of the sun changes light throughout the day changes. Shadows stretch and transform, change orientation and intensity. Musical Shadows detects these light variations: when cast on the interactive pavement, shadows trigger voices and instruments that evolve depending on the light intensity.
Dawn or dusk, the same combinations of melody and instrument may never be heard twice. Musical Shadows’s many musical possibilities provide a sense of surprise and exploration for both everyday participants and one-time visitors. People are free to choose how they want to engage, simply walking through the pavement or dancing with their entire bodies; alone or together.
From the beginning of the project, Daily’s team went to Mesa in Arizona to conduct workshops and public consultations. These meetings showed us that the difficult co-existence with the harsh sun was a major preoccupation. This informed our core concept: to use shadow as an interaction interface
We tested our concept using Post-it Notes during one of these workshops. This allowed us both to demonstrate and receive immediate feedback on our idea early in the process.
We had the opportunity to present a functioning prototype on-site during the Mesa Arts Center’s Spark Festival. Thousands of visitors attend the two-day festival, the perfect chance to field test a number of different sensor layouts, shapes and densities, and different types of sounds as well.
With the notes from the previous prototype, we created and tested another full-scale sensor layout, this time with chalk and coloured tape in a parking lot. This allowed us to make quick adjustments and to finalize an approximate layout.
We then created another low-tech layout prototype. This one laid out in paper full scale in a parking lot behind our studio, giving us a sense of how it would finally look for a visitor. It allowed us one last chance to make refinements before committing to the final layout.
This prototype was a technical dress rehearsal, allowing us to run the software and hardware for a number of weeks in a row, testing for bugs. It also gave us a platform for testing and tweaking the audio.