White Shadow is an interactive art installation composing a telematic sundial which connects people on two remote locations via a monument’s shadow. A white shadow of the Monument to Cuauhtémoc in Mexico City is remotely cast at the Hauptplatz in Linz, matching the original shadow’s shape. This white shadow is then populated in real-time by the shadows of Mexico City inhabitants.
White shadow embodies a play between the changing of our perception of time and distance and issues related to human migration. The Monument to Cuauhtémoc, last Aztec ruler, proudly casts its shadow during daytime in Mexico City, the shape and orientation of its shadow changing with (and this marking) the passing hours. At the same time, night has fallen in Linz and the main square is illuminated by the white shadow of Cuauhtémoc’s Statue, bounding the distance in time and space between the two locations. Furthermore, the white shadow becomes a channel which allows the inhabitants of Mexico City to also bound this time-space gap via their shadows, enabling them in a way to be remotely present in Linz but also anonymizing each individual and limiting his/her presence in both time and space.
To achieve this, a camera is placed in front of the Stone of the Sun at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City to capture images of people passing by during daytime. A computer then extracts the silhouettes of people from the background. These silhouettes are then streamed over to Linz, where it is nighttime (geographically 8 hours difference from Mexico City). This allows for projecting images in the open space of the Hauptplatz. The streamed silhouettes of Mexico inhabitants are received by a computer in Linz and composited in black against a white shadow of the Cuauhtémoc Monument, rendered so as to match the shadow being cast at the same time by the monument in its original location. The resulting image is then projected on the ground of the Hauptplatz, in a way that the white shadow seems to be cast by another structure of different shape – namely the fountain in the South part of the square.
White Shadow is commissioned by 80+1 A Journey Around the World. Ars Electronica, Voestalpine, Linz 09.