Category Archives: Shadows

More shadow books


Atomic light (shadow optics) / Akira Mizuta Lippit.

Dreams, x-rays, atomic radiation, and “invisible men” are phenomena that are visual in nature but unseen. Atomic Light (Shadow Optics) reveals these hidden interiors of cultural life, the “avisual” as it has emerged in the writings of Jorge Luis Borges and Jacques Derrida, Tanizaki Jun’ichirô and Sigmund Freud, and H. G. Wells and Ralph Ellison, and in the early cinema and the postwar Japanese films of Kobayashi Masaki, Teshigahara Hiroshi, Kore-eda Hirokazu, and Kurosawa Kiyoshi, all under the shadow cast by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Akira Mizuta Lippit focuses on historical moments in which such modes of avisuality came into being–the arrival of cinema, which brought imagination to life; psychoanalysis, which exposed the psyche; the discovery of x-rays, which disclosed the inside of the body; and the “catastrophic light” of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which instituted an era of atomic discourses. With a taut, poetic style, Lippit produces speculative readings of secret and shadow archives and visual structures or phenomenologies of the inside, charting the materiality of what both can and cannot be seen in the radioactive light of the twentieth century. Akira Mizuta Lippit is professor of cinema, comparative literature, and Japanese culture at the University of Southern California. He is the author of Electric Animal: Toward a Rhetoric of Wildlife (Minnesota, 2000)

In praise of shadows / Jun’ichirō Tanizaki; translated by Thomas J.Harper and Edward G.Seidensticker


An essay on aesthetics by the Japanese novelist, this book explores architecture, jade, food, and even toilets, combining an acute sense of the use of space in buildings. The book also includes descriptions of laquerware under candlelight and women in the darkness of the house of pleasure

Notes on shadows

The contrast between shadow as a subjective element (psychology, projecting into the unknown etc) and shadow as objective source of information (science – astronomy, medicine etc).

Shadow as medium – a non-refractive optics as opposed to lens based optics.

The historical idea of the shadow as a projection of something opaque ( say a body) associated with the soul, versus a new form of shadow derived from the idea of the X-ray, where the interior of the body is now revealed, partially transparent and medicalised.

Atomic optics – permanent shadows in  stone from the atomic blast in Hiroshima.

Interiority versus exteriority, the historical opacity of the body versus the modernist transparency of the body.

opacity – transparency.

Link to photograms – Moholy-Nagy refers to X-rays when he writes about photograms.

Using shadows – blending layers (darken blend).

The shadow as indexical trace – are we hard wired in our response to shadows (say shadows in moonlight while hunting) that we reach out to interpret them (out of necessity to anticipate danger)?

Origins:  the shadow can be a naturally occurring form of image -so  is the shadow on a screen or surface natural or actually projected? ambiguity. A lens based image on the other hand must always be projected by another lens based apparatus (cameras and projectors have reciprocal functions).

Consequently..the potential aliveness of the shadow.

William Kentridge comments on the absence of facial expression in the shadow play – the need for gesture to convey emotion.

The shadow is a complex interplay between light source, object  casting the shadow and the surface the shadow is projected onto.

The shadow and drawing…

Shadows – literature


Still Einstellung- Stillmoving Imagenesis

The Shadow-play as Medium of Memory in Global Art

A short history of the shadow Victor I. Stoichita.

by Stoichiță, Victor Ieronim.

Series: Essays in art and culturePublisher: London : Reaktion, 1997.Description: 264 pages : illustrations (some colour), facsimiles, portraits ; 24 cm.ISBN: 1861890001; 0978186189009.Subject(s): Perspective | Shades and shadows in artNote: Includes bibliographical references: pages 243-258.

In praise of shadows / [editor Séan Kissane ; curator Paolo Colombo].

by Colombo, PaoloKissane, SeanIrish Museum of Modern Art (Kilmainham, Dublin, Ireland)İstanbul ModernMouseio Benakē.

Publisher: Milano : Edizioni Charta ; [2008]Description: 150 pages : colour illustrations ; 27 cm.ISBN: 8881587149; 9788881587148.Subject(s): Puppets in art | Shadow puppets — Exhibitions | Shadow shows | Shadow-pictures | SilhouettesNote: Published on the occasion of the exhibition In praise of shadows, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, 5 November 2008 to 4 January 2009 ; Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, Istanbul, 23 January to 6 May 2009 ; Benaki Museum, Athens, 22 May to 26 July 2009. Note: Includes bibliographical references. 

Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

This highly illustrated volume – produced for the exhibition of the same name held at the Irish Museum of Modern Art between November 2008 and January 2009 – focuses on shadows, shadow theatre, and silhouettes based on old folk tales and simple narratives, exploring the traditional art form of the shadow play and its influence on the world of contemporary art