When the sun went down and the street lights went on, city dwellers and tourists alike had the chance to dance in the shadows of Austin. From the end of February to mid-March, Shadowing Austin popped up in six locations throughout the city. This art installation allowed people to interact with others who had walked the same path. Thanks to infrared cameras and projectors strategically placed around town, shadows suddenly came alive.
For this project, the Playable City Austin, an initiative of the Cultural Arts Division in the City of Austin (CAD) reached out to Austin Energy (AE)—a 2016 BCA 10 Honoree— for their knowledge, technology, and support. Austin Energy, the community owned electric utility, was responsible for scouting locations, installing the fixtures, and maintaining them. CAD, AE and artist Jonathan Chomko collaborated throughout Summer 2017 on installation plans, and Shadowing Austin launched in February 2018.
“Austin values art in public places,” said Allen Small, Austin Energy Distribution Director. “It was great to partner with other city departments and the artists to help get this project up and running. It was fun to watch people interacting with each other and with the installations. This is the type of project that gets people talking to each other again, instead of just looking down at their phones.”
This type of collaboration speaks to the initial intent of the project. The artists Chomoko and Matthew Rosier developed this interactive installation (initially for the City of London) to promote community engagement. And it certainly has done so in Austin. CAD reports that during their installation, the Shadowing fixtures had nearly 100,000 interactions.
Photos courtesy of Austin Energy