Silhouettes of Jazz

Silhouettes of Jazz

This animated short movie outlines the history of traditional jazz music in a virtual walkthrough of a 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 movie highlights five different milestones in the evolution of jazz: the early songs of field workers, ragtime, New Orleans jazz, swing, and bebop. Each era is represented with a room containing 3D sculptures which cast multiple shadow images at the same time. This unique property is achieved using a novel computational method for the interactive creation and manipulation of shadow art, developed by Niloy Mitra and Mark Pauly from the Applied Geometry Group at ETH Zurich. Given a set of desired silhouette images, a global geometric optimization builds a 3D shadow volume that can subsequently be edited by the artist using a set of 3D modeling tools.


Title: "Silhouettes of Jazz"
Genre: Experimental Animation

Dominik Kaeser
Martin-Sebastian Senn
Mario Deuss

Research & Development
Niloy Mitra, Mark Pauly

ETH Zurich, Applied Geometry Group