Two stereoscopic views of Instrument Nine in action. The shadow of the rhino sits just off the screen. The shadow of the shadow maker floats in front of the rhino (see the parallax between the shadows on the rhino’s rump). Both are quite subtle distances off the intended screen. I will make some tests to see how far I can push them without getting eye strain, the problem with the first iteration, Instrument Nine (a).
Below is an overall view of the instrument.
With the new projector Instrument Nine works much better. I have not found the optimal separation for the light sources yet, but the shadow floats with much better resolution. I will now take some stereoscopic photographs and see how it works out in representation.
A few more images of Instrument Nine, a development of Instrument Six. It is able to float shadows in mid air between the object and the surface on which they should be cast. There are a number of new experiments in this version. The white shadow maker casts its shadow on the side of the rhino, which in turn contributes to the form of the floating shadow. This had worked out well so far, although I have redesigned and rebuilt the light projector to get a better sense of depth. I will try it this evening if all goes to plan. The back of the rhino is painted white to disturb its shadows on the screen (or effectively the picture plane). I have previously posted pictures of James Perry Wilson’s background painting for the White Rhino diorama at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), in which a rhino is painted white on the hidden side so as to avoid a shadow on the background painting from the taxidermy (which would dissolve the perspectival construction, shadows and sciagraphy being an integral part of perspectival projection). The rhino in the instrument therefore plays both screen and object, but is chosen entirely because of the AMNH story, while I work out what or who the main characters should be. That and my jealousy of Perry Kulper’s giraffe which inhabited his part of our work on Instrument Eight! This project is again a collaboration with Perry, although each of the parts we are making and drawing are discrete at the moment.
Instrument Nine is a test bed to check the viability of a number of ideas that might go into further instruments if they fly – a little like the role of Instrument Four with the flying paint instruments.
The registers on the screen/ picture plane help calibrate the depth at which the shadows float above the surface, and also produce three dimensional shadows of their own.
I have not posted any new work for a while, so here is Instrument Nine in progress. It is a development of Instrument Six, projecting paradoxical shadows that float in mid air. A few more complications in this one and using different technologies.
I will post some more revealing (and better..) pictures if it works. Quite a lot more to do to get it to work.
I am back working on the paradoxical shadows. Instrument Six (below) proved that I could make a floating shadow (hovering in mid air and detached from the surface that it should by rights land upon), both photographically and as a direct experience. For the latter, the candles worked very beautifully but require a very dark space to work in and have practical limitations, so I am making new instruments with electric light bulbs instead. The new instruments will test a host of possibilities raised by Instrument Six.
I have posted a photograph of the White Rhinoceros group at the American Museum of Natural History before (in stereo, if I remember correctly). The 1937 diorama has a fine background painting by James Perry Wilson. It is located in a corner of the mezzanine level of the Akeley Hall of African of Mammals in a corner with a low ceiling (which wilson tries to disguise with heavy rain clouds). To fit the two large White Rhinos in the tight space without them standing too close to the observer, one is located very close to the painted background. To help mitigate against a shadow on the background (which would collapse the illusion of depth) apparently the hidden side of the Rhino is painted white. This possibility of negating one’s shadow has been teasing me recently and will be part of the new instrument I am working on.