Shadowing invites you to unleash your shadow in the city

At dusk on Thursday 11 September 2014 (running until Friday 31 October) Watershed’s second Playable City Award will be unveiled to the public. As the sun goes down in Bristol, Shadowing, the winning submission from design duo Jonathan Chomko and Matthew Rosier, from New York and Treviso respectively, will appear as magical shadows beneath the city’s street lights revealing traces of those who walked before.

As the streetlights come on, traces of those who have passed by will be played back as shadows, re-animating the streets after dark. So keep an eye out – Shadowing will emerge in eight places across the city until Friday 31 October, letting your shadow carry on exploring the city once you’re safely tucked up in bed.

Since the 2014 Playable City Award winner was announced in June, the Shadowing team has been working with Watershed producers to explore their concept. They have been busy figuring out how to use existing city streetlights to capture the movements of pedestrians below and then project their images back as shadows after they have moved on.

Shadowing offers passers-by a trace of those who have walked the same path moments, days or weeks before, like ghostly time travellers or imaginary friends. As people interact with these curious figures, their movements are recorded and echoed back to the next passer by. If a visitor remains under the streetlight, the lamp reaches further back in time, playing back the shadows of its previous visitors.

As well as animating some of the city’s lesser travelled nooks and crannies, Shadowing offers an exploration of the disconnectedness that technology can create between strangers, the role of light in shaping a city’s character, and the unseen data and surveillance culture that pervades today’s urban spaces.

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol says, “Bristol is a city where brave, ambitious and playful work is both welcomed and celebrated. Shadowing and Watershed’s Playable City Award offer us excellent examples of how cities can be transformed when we embrace fun and playfulness in our public spaces. ”

Shadowing is being unveiled at the inaugural ‘Making the City Playable’ conference, taking place at Watershed on Wednesday 10 and Thursday 11 September. This two day international conference will explore the theme of the Playable City, and asks what it might mean for citizens, urban planners, companies, artists and designers in making the cities of the future.

Following the conference, Shadowing will be freely available to the public in eight locations around the city until Friday 31 October. The designers and Watershed intend to tour Shadowing internationally in 2015.

Jonathan Chomko and Matthew Rosier say: ” Shadowing is an open invitation to the people of Bristol to come and play in the shadows of the city, leaving traces of themselves behind, and encountering the traces of people they have never met. We’re not releasing exact locations of the Shadowing street lights, as we want this experience to meld into the everyday – not necessarily a destination, but something along the way. We hope that people will enjoy discovering something truly extraordinary hidden within the fabric of their everyday surroundings”