Narcissus is a software-experiment and work of art that explores the possibilities of enriching traditional shadow play using a computer-setup and genetic algorithms (GAs). A GA is used to generate strings of characters based on hand-gestures. The strings are translated into shapes and used to evolve and morph (metamorphose) between shapes. Additional lighting effects are realized by using an innovative “alphabet-overlap” technique based on the GA. The Greek mythology about Narcissus is used as a context to place, explore and evaluate the techniques within a realistic shadow play scenario. Results show that the GA-based method can add new aesthetics and possibilities to shadow play and thus can be used for visually pleasing evolvement and metamorphoses of shapes as well as lighting effects.
Narcissus was realized in the ‘Embodied Vision’ course of the Media Technology MSc programme at Leiden University.