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The History of Jazz, Animated in Shadow Art

What five rooms and bleeding-edge software have to do with the cultural heritage of music.

We love, love, love jazz. And we have a soft spot for good animation. So we’re all over Silhouettes of Jazz — a brilliant animated short film from SIGGRAPH Asia 2009, outlining the history of jazz in a virtual shadow art museum.

Shadow art is a unique form of sculptural art that exploits the fact that we can recognize objects from their shadows or silhouettes. Improvisation, a key ingredient of jazz music, is mirrored in the ambiguity of a shadow sculpture: many different 3D shapes can cast the same 2D shadow.

The film focuses on five milestone eras in the evolution of jazz — the early music of field workers, ragtime, New Orleans jazz, swing, and bebop — each represented by a separate room, in which 3D sculptures cast complex shadow images in different directions simultaneously, making each form interpretable as multiple symbolic objects.

The animators used a novel computational method, building 3D shadow volumes through global geometric optimization that allows the artist to later edit the silhouette using 3D modeling tools.

Silhouettes of Jazz does for jazz what This Is Where We Live did for book publishing, a visual and conceptual delight from start to finish.

Thanks, @TrackerNews

Published December 2, 2009




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