Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


Ghosts of Ombromanie Shadow Art Shadowgraphy and Art which doesn't Exist! Get thee before a LIGHT!

Are ghosts real? Yes, in two cases. One, when you see a dead celebrity walking around on television. Pick one from the past...let's say Humphrey Bogart. Long gone, but there he goes, in mysterious flickering grey tones, eerily bashing the nose of some gunsel at the conclusion of a dime store novel plot.

The second proof of ghosts is the hand shadow. Lost art, entirely free and available to anyone with the sun or a light bulb (though the curly ones we use today don't throw as warm a temporary canvas on the wall.)

I was always impressed with modern installation art. Whole room constructions which leave in a month and never return. Nothing to buy, but a true exhibit of an artist's talent and nerve. Sure, there was usually an edition of something for sale at the counter and portable pieces of the artist's work available in the back room, but the intention was usually to build an artist's reputation and "wow" the audience. The fleeting nature (and the bragging rights of having seen something no longer available to others) made the experience all the more special.

Hand Shadows is an even more temporal art form in that it exists for a shorter time. In fact it really doesn't exist at all. Can't be owned, can't be captured, has no physical form or shape. Largely forgotten now, the hand shadow is an art exhibit which isn't even there, and depending on the shaking and quivering of the artist, it might not even work for the few seconds one tries to throw it up there. The ephemeral here briefly and gone in seconds shadow.

Everyone can make one or two, but the early practitioner who would travel from gig to gig (or birthday party to school assembly) often had a patter to go along with the work...moral tales, jokes, and frequently an agenda of either the person paying for the show or the artist. But it wasn't necessary. The mere, temporary existence of the work was enough. Like the chalk talkers I love so much, the art form was often, and is today when you can see it, frequently hijacked by the religious prothelesizer. Get thee before a light! I don't think they do any "in and out" shadows with a circle and a thrusting digit, but that is probably the most popular example today, and usually made in a dorm room or, if you can find a spot, a well-lit corner of the local tavern.

It has a name...Ombromanie. It probably started with the Chinese, but the most famous old time practitioners appear to have been fussy French folks. The classic texts go way back...even before motion picture ghosts. You can look them up yourself, and you can find books which will allow you to reconstruct the lost art form. Get good at it and you can also entertain your friends. Get REALLY good at it and you could bring back the form!

Jim Linderman
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  1. This is why your blogs rocks!

    (and always brings a smile to my face)

    Thanks again Linderman for the great post:)

  2. hi this is tharun from india..., i want to know about shadograhy..., it was useful for me/,..,