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Posts Tagged ‘shadow’

Sundial

There is in a pocket park in Acton, Mass., a most unusual sundial. I discovered it quite by accident, tucked into a hill between a strip mall and a bank.

To tell the time on a sunny day, you must stand on a paving stone carved with the month of the year. Pillars, or columns, of varying heights indicate the hours. The first time I tried, in October, my shadow told me it was about 2 pm. In November, according to my shadow, I was there about noon.

I have Googled every phrase I can think of and have found nothing about either this park or the particular way of constructing a sundial. If anyone can enlighten me, I’d greatly appreciate it.

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My latest photo round-up includes several from family members plus examples of my own fascination with shadows and light.

The first picture is from Erik’s mother in Sweden. I love that a Swedish gingerbread house was rendered in red board-and-batten style. Next is a funny sign about Norwegians that my husband shot in Concord. Then we have Suzanne’s photo of proto-skiers and another funny sign, this time in Vermont.

The old barn is next to the Ralph Waldo Emerson homestead. The house being torn down is the haunted one I have described before. Tearing it down revealed that it was actually haunted by a raccoon.

The six light-and-shadow photos depict a stuffed animal in bright sunlight, our front gate after a recent storm, Plato’s Idea/Form of a trash can and recycling bin, three green windows, chairs in the pocket park, and a surprising pattern of light on a window blind.

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“Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance?” go the lyrics of the “Lobster Quadrille” (the “Mock Turtle’s Song“) in Alice in Wonderland.

And Wonderland is where you may imagine you have landed if you stumble upon this irresistible invitation to dance with your shadow.

At FastCoDesign, Mark Wilson explains how the dancers are drawn in.

“At some point between ages 3 and 13, we go from the life of the wedding dance floor to being the awkward kid standing at the edge of the gym wondering why we wore a silk shirt. …

“But what if our environment could encourage us to dance — without any balloons, bridal parties, or booze? A project called Mesa Musical Shadows, by Montréal’s Daily Tous Les Jours studio, is doing just that. It’s a public installation that turns a chunk of pavement in Arizona’s Mesa Arts Center into a giant game of Dance Dance Revolution that you play by moving your shadow.

“As detailed by Creative Applications, the system itself uses light sensors, coupled with speakers built into the mosaic tiles. If the tiles sense a shadow—or even just you stepping directly on the sensor—it plays a note. And so as many people swing and kick together, these notes combine into a harmonious soundscape generated in real time. …

“Now that the physical installation of sensors and speakers is done, the studio can see how people use it, and actually program the system’s entire logic to react in more complicated ways to a user’s behavior, like ramping up with more and richer sounds as a person becomes more and more engaged.” More.

Video: Creative Applications

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I love thinking about sunlight and shadow. Dickens uses them a lot for Richard and Ada’s story in Bleak House — maybe my favorite book of all time.

“So young, so beautiful, so full of hope and promise, they went on lightly through the sunlight … So they passed away into the shadow, and were gone.”

Many of you know what the decades-long case of Jarndyce vs Jarndyce did to Richard and Ada’s bright hopes. I’ve come to think that it was not so much Richard’s fevered expectations of an inheritance that brought the most sorrow, but his need to fix blame. Blame is corrosive.

When I interviewed a formerly homeless Marine last week and he started telling me about how upset he was that something bad had just happened with his benefits, I was touched by how he kept reminding himself how to cope, saying, “I believe in fixing the problem — not the blame.” Words to live by.

The first three photos were taken early Saturday morning, when the effects of sunlight and shadow were especially breathtaking. (I can never resist that old graveyard. You’ve seen it here in all weathers.)

The next three were taken at the playground near John’s house. Every few months, new creatures appear on that tall tree stump. (You’ve seen previous creature photos, too, on this blog.)

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