The Shadow Engine: Interactive Light Sculpture

Yet another creative Burningman Invention. The Shadow Engine is an interactive light sculpture. A curved Lexan wall, seven feet tall by six feet wide, is covered with an array of 1120 red, yellow, green and blue LEDs. Facing this wall, eight feet away, is a curved aluminum fence, about 15 feet long. This fence supports 1120 light sensors (phototransistors), pointed at the LEDs.

The computer controlling the Shadow Engine can set the LED display to some image, then read the intensities from the light sensors. It can then calculate a new image to display, based on what the light sensors reported. So the system feeds back on itself, changing what pattern it shows based on how it sees itself through the sensors. People can walk in between the two walls and cast their shadows on the sensors, changing the way the system behaves.

– Libarynth.guest - 24 May 2003