The Shadowgraph

The Shadowgraph is an experimental drawing machine inspired by the Theremin instrument. It incorporates the stage design of a shadow theater and the visual output of a polygraph test to establish a new kind of art-making environment. The Shadowgraph is made for people to create their own art without ever touching the page – or a pen.

Using an Arduino and two programmed infrared sensors, the Shadowgraph detects the user’s hand movements, then sends a signal to the two servo motors controlling the pen backstage. With the left hand, the artist gestures up and down to move the pen on and off the acetate film roll. With the right hand, the artist moves the pen laterally. The backstage light reflects on the transparent page to create a dramatic shadow aesthetic.

The Shadowgraph is a creative response to a brief calling for a simple drawing machine and was designed, built, and completed in two days.