Shadowgram 2010

Ars Electronica Futurelab developed Shadowgram as a method for combining the aesthetic entertainment of creating a physical object, a sticker cut out in the shape of your shadow with the intention of participating in social brainstorming. The core artistic intention was to create what we call a ‘creative catalyst’, a system that enables the audience to discover, play with, and use their creativity. This extension of the FabLab concept to the next stage of interactive fabrication is an important part of technical and conceptual research, one that has the potential to yield highly entertaining works.


A ‘creative catalyst’ is a system that enables the audience to discover, play with, and use their creativity.


The term shadowgram refers to an analogue photographic technique whereby an object placed on a sheet of photosensitized paper is exposed to light and developed chemically, thus creating a shadow-image of the object.  Shadowgram is a conceptual extension of this idea, by combining a video camera, a human scale light box, image analysis software, and a vinyl cutter, we conceived a system whereby the shadow or outline of any object can be instantly, and interactively fabricated into a vinyl sticker.


An image of a person’s shadow is printed out on an adhesive label. Credit: Ars Electronica Futurelab
Modelling for the silhouette. Foto: Ars Electronica Futurelab
Modelling for the silhouette. Credit: Ars Electronica Futurelab


A conceptual extension to the term shadowgram is to consider the words literally. ‘Gram’ can mean a measurement of weight, and as a postfix it means a form of recording or writing. In the prior, we consider that a shadow has no weight, and the product of this work is a tangible shadow with weight.  Shadowgram ‘gives weight’ to the users’ shadow, encouraging them to consider positive use of their shadow-image to communicate.  This metaphor effectively plays with the relative anonymity of the shadow, as it affords a detachment from a public statement, while anyone who knows the person could recognize their shadow, others will only recognize gender and age at the most, so the feeling of being able to make a public statement associated with your image is relatively unrestrained.

Reasearch & Development

Roland Haring, Hideaki Ogawa, Christopher Lindinger, Emiko Ogawa, Matthew Gardiner, David Stolarsky, Martina Mara