Playable City Award 2014 Winner

Winner of Watershed’s 2014 Playable City Award was Shadowing by Jonathan Chomko and Matthew Rosier

Shadowing gives memory to a city lights, enabling them to record and play back the shadows of those who passed underneath.

Shadowing premiered in Bristol over six weeks in Autumn 2014 – residents and visitors hunted out the clandestine locations of eight augmented street lights, and were playing, dancing and shaping their shadows in some of the unexpected and lesser-travelled streets and pathways of Bristol.

As the sun set over the city, the Shadowing streetlights would start to capture the movements of pedestrians passing beneath and echo them back as shadows to the next passerby, leaving a glimpse of those who walked the same path moments before. If a visitor stepped out of the light to watch for a while, the lamp would begin to ‘dream’, recalling a procession of shadows from earlier visitors.

Shadowing invites interaction between people who share a space. This could be as simple as walking together, or more complex gestures could occur – a wave hello, a hop, or a dance. In Bristol we saw an incredible array of playful, thoughtful and creative responses, from those who lay on the ground to leave the shadow equivalent of a snow angel behind, to 10-person conga lines, breakdancing displays and wheelbarrow races with citizens trying to defeat the earlier shadow of themselves.

Shadowing offers passers-by a glimpse of those who have walked the same path moments, days or weeks before, at times like ghostly time travellers, at others more like a more playful Peter Pan. As well as peeling back the traces of the city’s nooks and crannies, Shadowing offers an exploration of the disconnectedness that technology can create between strangers, the role of light in creating a city’s character, and the unseen data layers and surveillance culture that pervades our contemporary urban spaces.

Shadowing was chosen from a shortlist of eight projects which you can read about here.

Shadowing had it’s international premiere in Japan in 2016 as part of Media Ambition Tokyo.

Media Ambition Tokyo, which is fast becoming the country’s leading showcase of technological art, took place between 26 February and 21 March 2016 across the city. Three Shadowing lamp posts were installed in Toranomon Hills, hosted by British Council and supported by Rhizomatiks, Toranomon Hills and ADK. Learn more here: