Media Technology MSc

Illuminating Shadows: The Augmented Zebrafish (2013)

Illuminating Shadows: The Augmented Zebrafish

Where the obstruction of light is usually unwanted in projection-based augmented reality installations, this project explores shadows as dynamic canvases for supplementary projections. Interacting audiences define shadow areas with their own bodies, allowing to discover visual information in a playful and even cooperative way. Illuminating Shadows combines visual art, educative content presentation, and gameful design in an interactive display that augments exhibition models in museum environments.

Zebrafish are studied by many scientists worldwide, including groups at Leiden University. This project offers scientists and interested audiences a chance to control and experience the various types visual data that are available about zebrafish, in a natural way.


The project was conceived within the Human Computer Interaction course of Fall 2013. Students Marcello and Carolien were interested in exploring novel forms of presenting and interacting with exhibition displays. Over the course of several weeks, a prototype was constructed to experiment with the concept of shadow interaction. Wood, wire, papier mâché, and paint were used to create a large-scale zebrafish model that served as canvas for interactive projections. In the end, audiences were able to use their shadows to interact with multiple layers and types of biologic visualizations.

Exhibitions and Conferences

The zebrafish installation has been presented to a wider audience at the Royal Academy of Art (KABK) in The Hague and at the 16th International Conference and Exhibition of Virtual Technologies (Laval Virtual 2004). A technical paper about the project was presented and published at the CHI Sparks 2014 conference.

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