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Shadow Remix

Shadow Remix
Shadow Remix


What do YOU see in a shadow? In the same way that we sometimes see recognizable shapes and forms in cloud formations, this activity invites learners to use their imaginations and share what they see in shadows. Inspired by artist Vincent Bal, this open-ended prompt encourages remixing and building on the ideas of others in different ways, and creates a series of inspiring images in the end.

Try out the Shadow Remix Web app and use the hashtag #ShadowRemix to share what you create! 



Materials and Tools

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You can make a shadow remix using a range of tools and materials. We value that there's no one specific tool required for tinkering and we love experiences that support the use of a variety of materials. Pick what's best for you and your learning.

Paper and pen: Use a flashlight and an object to cast a shadow on a piece of paper, and then use drawing materials to bring it to life! Or, trace your shadow on a piece of paper and draw what you see on top. For remixing, make photocopies of the shadow outline or take a picture of your shadow and share it with others.

Digital tools: Draw on top of a photo of a shadow using a photo-editing tool like Procreate or Markup on your smartphone or tablet. Or test out our shadow remix web app

Chalk and sidewalk: Take your shadow remixing outside and use sidwalk chalk to reimagine what you see. Return to your drawing after a couple of hours and remix it using the new position of the shadow.



Getting Started 

To get started with this activity, take a shadow walk to start noticing shadows in a different way. Once you choose or create a shadow, use pens and paper or digital drawing tools to bring your imagination to life. Take it a step further by thinking about different kinds of collaboration. Make a shadow for someone else to remix, or see how many different ways a group can reimagine the same shadow! 

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1. Start with a Shadow

Go on a shadow walk and look for compelling and surprising shadows. They may be outdoors or inside, made by the sun or a flashlight. See if you can find shadows that are naturally occurring or what shadows you can make with your own light. When you find one you like, take a photo or start working with it right there using a writing tool and a drawing surface. We value experiences that get learners noticing the world around them, whether identifying interesting shadows or playing with physical phenomena.

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2. Bring it to Life

Like clouds in the sky, think of these shadows as a starting place to let your imagination run wild. Try out a few different ideas, or make a list of possible directions to go. Think about how your tools can help decide what direction you take. The big idea is *their* idea. We love supporting learners' ideas and divergent outcomes. Instead of following along step-by-step, encourage learners to connect to their own passions and make a shadow remix that's meaningful to them.

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3. Share and Remix

While this activity is fun to do on your own, its even more fun to do with others. Share a shadow with friends and see how each person re-imagines its shapes. Are there similarities between drawings? What are some differences? Social-emotional learning is one of our key indicators of a tinkering experience. Encourage collaboration by sharing shadows between learners and host a reflective conversation looking at the final collection.


Shadow Remix Web App

We're testing out a new Shadow Remix Web App developed in collaboration with Wonderful Idea Co. and Amanda Ghassaei that allows learners to draw on shadows.  

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The application is still in active development, but you're invited to test it out in its current form! Use a or command + s to save, d or command + z to undo, c to choose the camera input, and g or backspace to clear the whole screen. To choose the camera input on an iPad or tablet without a built in keyboard, try connecting to a Bluetooth keyboard. For use with a Makey Makey, you can use d to undo, a to save image, and g to clear. 

The app works best when connected to a webcam. It's designed to work in conjunction with a physical exhibit with buttons so that learners can rotate objects to cast precise shadows on a surface. Then, learners can draw on a screen to turn the shadows into animals, landscapes, vehicles, or whatever else they see. 

Please share what you try out and any feedback with us on Twitter by tagging @TinkeringStudio or using the hashtag #ShadowRemix

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Why are we working on this version of the shadow remix activity?

Learners move back and forth between a wide variety of technology including custom software, two stepper motors, a webcam, microcontroller, arcade buttons and rocker switches to add their remix to a collection. Digitally controlling the shadow casting objects like scissors or clamps with motors allow learners to experiment with finding shadows. The digital touchscreen offers wide possibilities for remixing the image with options to change color and line thickness. Participants’ creations are displayed in a shared gallery that has a prominent location in the environment. 

Amanda Ghassaei is an engineer and maker based in San Francisco, CA working on computational tools for artists and designers. In collaboration with Wonderful Idea Co and the Tinkering Studio, she helped to develop the Shadow Remix software application.

Shadow Remix Gallery

Part of the fun of Shadow Remixes is getting to create shadows, share them with friends, and see what they transform them into. We're doing an experiment to see how we can collect remixes of shadows and share them out. Please join in!

1. Download one of the shadows to remix in the top row.

2. Create a remix, and then add it to this gallery . You can also create shadows for others to remix.

3. Upload your remix or shadow by dragging and dropping it into the gallery or by clicking on the pink plus button to upload. Please include a Title and your Name (along with anything else you want us to know about your creation):


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Featured Artist: Vincent Bal

Belgian filmmaker Vincent Bal is a self-proclaimed "shadowologist" who transforms simple shadows into whimsical shadow doodles. He uses everyday objects to cast a shadow, and then doodles to transform the shadows into delightful scenes, stories, and characters. Check out his Shadowology work on Facebook and Instagram.

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Story Time + Tinkering

We've collected a set of our favorite books to use as inspiration for engaging with specific tinkering activities as part of our Story Time + Tinkering initiative.  Learn more about Story Time + Tinkering →

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Book Pairing: Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld

Is this a duck or a rabbit? What happens when you add more context, like a sandwich in front of the duck’s bill or a carrot in front of the rabbit? This story explores differences in perspective in a playful way. You might pair it with shadow remixes by making a rabbit shadow with your hand, and then trying to turn it into a duck! Listen to Mr. Limata read Duck! Rabbit!





Shadow Remix Online Workshop Facilitation

Reflections on Remixing Shadows

What are ways to facilitate Shadow Remix towards different pathways? Check out this mindmap representing possible divergent directions to take shadow remixes and read more about them here.

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 Shadow Remix Credits: Ahra Jo, Astrid Poot, Lianna Kali, My Nguyen, Paola Mattioli, Ryan Jenkins, and Saskia Leggett.