Have you ever wondered, how can we define art? Surely, according to an encyclopedia or a dictionary, art is “ a visual object or experience consciously created through an expression of skill or imagination. The term art encompasses diverse activities, such as painting, sculpture, photography, and so on. But is art just it? From my standpoint, art should be a combination of skill and imagination. Also, emotion, power and free choice. In a broader sense, the soul of the artist exposed in different manners and techniques. Less conventional forms of art, such as Shadow art can be more impressive than the ones we already know.
What is Shadow Art?
At a first sight, we may say that this is just a random way of arranging different objects in a form that casts a particular shadow. Or you can compare it with playing with your fingers in front of a lantern like we used to do when we were children. It is actually much more than that. Playing with shadows is no easy work, it is actually harder to control than a canvas for example. Many other intervening factors can ruin the final product such as light, angle or the perspective of the viewer.
If art, in general, can be defined as mentioned above, shadow art represents the skills in playing with shadows. Drawing lines out of nothing and creating forms out of something that isn’t there. The shadow is said to carry heavy meaning, not just in art, but in life itself and the darkness of the shadow is related to the unknown. There is a certain duality in the unknown, perhaps best represented by the shadow in art. Leaving a certain part of the work hidden makes the viewer want to explore more. It leaves room for imagination. The shadow leaves room for both horror and pleasantries in its formless shape.
The heaviness of the shadow
This kind of art is appealing to every type of viewer, it is actually spectacular to watch, but it is more likely to fall into the modern art category. Everyone can see it, but not everyone can create it. At least not without a wide imagination and some mathematical skills as well. It is said that beauty stands in the eye of the beholder, and I think this is also the case of Shadow Art, It is created for the sake of art, as the creators claim, but yet it needs an external eye to be brought to life. And at the end of the day, is every individual perspective that makes the final piece of art even more breathtaking. It carries the heaviness of the shadow.
Who creates Shadow art?
There are many contemporary artists that have become famous due to their Shadow Art creations. One of them is Kumi Yamashita. The Japanese artist uses simple objects, such as thread, cloth or light to create figures appealing to the eye. She is more inclined to do less complicated shadows, from a single form. She shows that the heaviness stands in simplicity. On the other side, there are Tim Noble and Sue Webster who focus on turning the abstract forms into figurative ones. They tend to shock the audience by creating forms from materials such as discarded wood, welded scrap metal, broken tools, cigarette packets, soda cans and piles of trash or mummified squirrels and animal bones. The normal art becomes the less conventional Shadow art.
What if not showing your talent to the world was a crime? What would happen to the art then? My guess is that art wouldn’t feel the same anymore and it wouldn’t be as impressive. People would feel compelled to create for other people in order to judge it and, in this way, the essence of creating art would have been lost. The inspiration would have been lost. Those less conventional forms of art, such as Shadow art, need to find their voice in the world. I think people are attracted to Shadow Art not only because it is nice to look at, but because it leaves room for imagination. It makes the viewer think about how that thing could be arranged in such a way. Or at least this is why I find it interesting.