EGMT 1510/1520: Shadows - Beyond the Visible

What is a shadow? How do we talk about shadows, and visualize them? How do we account for them and make sense of their meanings? Shadows open onto resolutely empirical questions – for instance in the dimensionality of the universe, the science of sciography, or in the mechanics of solar eclipses. But shadows also entail a powerful association with the uncanny, and the emphatically para-normal, in the form of ghosts, specters, black holes, and other phantom-forms. This course engages the fascinating capacity of shadows to modulate darkness and light, reason and irrationality, and to spur scientific and artistic inquiry. Bringing together the Empirical and Aesthetic domains, our exploration of the art and science of shadows will open onto questions of dimensionality, reflection, projection, and optics, and will take us from Plato's Allegory of the Cave, to the popular, spectacular shadows shows of the eighteenth-century fantasmagoria, to contemporary artist Kara Walker's revelatory use of silhouettes to probe the long shadow of slavery.