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Silhouette photography of people making shadow monsters in a musem

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Silhouette photography of people making shadow monsters in a musem

The Museum of Modern Art in New York created an interactive system which allowed visitors to create shadow puppets. The system provided a complete package, with sounds and animation included in the show. Photographer Joseph O. Holmes saw the perfect opportunity in this exhibition and decided to capture what is going on behind the curtains.

Silhouette photography of a lady at the Museum of Modern Art
Posing for silhouette photography while trying to create Shadow Monsters. Credits: Joe Holmes.

“Shadow Monsters” was an exhibition which opened its doors to participants on December 7th, 2012 and it remained like that until January 2nd, 2013. The installation required a single camera, a computer, two projectors, unique software, and a light box.

Creating shadow monsters behind the scenes

Participants had to go in the front of the light box and start making shadow puppets. Their actions were augmented by computer software and the shadow puppets turned into dinosaurs, sharks and other scary animals. All they had to do is to be as expressive as possible, in order to help the system create scarier animations and sounds.

Silhouette photography of guy jumping
Person jumping out of the frame during Shadow Monsters show. Credits: Joe Holmes.

The project did not focus only on the shadows, as there were lots of scary animal sounds, that turned this exhibition into a “real” monster show. The project was then changed into a photo shoot by Joseph O. Holmes, who captured the silhouettes of the people making the shadow monsters.

Silhouette photography of people making shadow monsters

The photographer was not interested in the animation, nor the squawks of the monsters. However, he was captured by the funny positions and actions of the participants, who were trying to create scary animations and sounds on the two projectors.

Creating shadow monsters by dancing
Mother and child dancing to create shadow monsters. Credits: Joe Holmes.

However, Holmes praised the installation created by Philip Worthington, but he was almost entirely captured by the “twisted and contorted bodies” behind the scenes. He added that this was a perfect time to study the museum-goers’ body language, their dancing and their acting capabilities.

Break-dancing can create scary Shadow Monsters
Break-dancing to create scary monsters for the Shadow Monsters exhibition. Credits: Joe Holmes.

Most of the images were taken using a Nikon D800 and a lens set a 50mm or 80mm focal length. Other settings used for the photo shoot were 1/500 shutter speed, f/4 or f/4.5 aperture, and an ISO range between 400 to 800.

Acting scary at the Museum of Modern Arts in New York
Silhouette acting scary and posing for the Monsters collection. Credits: Joe Holmes.

The entire photo shoot is worth watching as it shows people in various situations. Some decided to be romantic, other people jumped, many participants danced, while others flexed their muscles. What is certain is that they had a lot of fun during the entire time.

Creating scary monsters and posing for silhouette photography at MoMA
Trying to be as scary as a zombie at the Museum of Modern Art. Credits: Joe Holmes.
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Silhouette photography of people making shadow monsters in a musem