Mar 14, 2009

Me and my (hand) shadow

Perhaps because we live in an age of instant visual gratification, the art of casting hand shadows has all but disappeared.

Long before the advent of film and television, going back perhaps thousands of years, the casting of hand shadows may have been one of the very first forms of popular visual entertainment.

You can almost picture some primitive tribesman sitting by a fire, seeing his shadow upon a wall, watching it move in perfect synchronization with his body. He soon comes up with the idea of mimicking simple shapes and forms with his hands and pretty soon he has everyone sitting around watching and listening as he relates stories through this exciting new form of communication.

Far fetched? Maybe, but it seems as likely an explanation as any.

Though most people would laugh at the idea of watching a hand shadow performance, there are still a handful of modern practitioners of the art.

Raymond Crowe is arguably one of the best.

An Australian mime, magician and cabaret performer who bills himself as an unusualist, he always closes his act with a performance called The Shadows. It often has audience members simultaneously laughing and in tears, and you can see it for yourself in the video below:

If you would like to see another pair of excellent hand shadow artists, you can check out Amar Sen and Sabyasachi Sen in this video:

If you are now sufficiently inspired to try a few simple hand shadows for yourself, just go here and give it a try...there's no telling how far you may go!

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