This project seeks to merge the ancient art of Javanese shadow puppetry with cutting-edge video projection and animation technology, creating a captivating fusion of physical and virtual storytelling elements. At the heart of the Blended Shadow Puppet Theatre is a desire to honor and explore traditional Javanese puppetry, an art form steeped in history and rich in narrative depth. By integrating these traditional elements with the dynamic possibilities of 21st-century digital media, the project will offer a unique cultural bridge that spans time and geography. This innovative approach not only preserves the essence of a centuries-old tradition but also reinterprets it for a modern audience, making it more accessible and engaging to a diverse, contemporary community. The project will utilize state-of-the-art video projection and animation to create immersive
backgrounds, dynamic sceneries, and interactive elements that interact seamlessly with the physical shadow puppets. These digital enhancements will allow the narratives to unfold in visually stunning environments, adding layers of meaning and engagement beyond the conventional puppetry performance. Participants and audiences will be invited to explore themes of identity, community, and cultural heritage through performances that challenge stereotypes and foster a deeper understanding of diversity. The blending of physical and virtual spaces within the theatre aims to reflect the interconnectedness of our world, where traditional and modern, tangible and intangible, local and global coexist.

The development of the Blended Shadow Puppet Theatre will involve collaboration across disciplines, including digital media artists, traditional puppeteers, storytellers, and technologists. This cross-disciplinary effort underscores City Tech’s commitment to leveraging technology and art to create meaningful, educational, and innovative experiences.

Tshari Yancey and Samuel Cheung

Faculty mentors:
Christopher Swift and David Smith

Students will be involved all stages of the project, from March 1 – May 15:
a. Testing: experimenting with light, color, projection, and shadow to determine degree of integration of ancient and modern technologies.
b. Design: drafting design for art exhibit, including size of audience and performance spaces, materials and control of light and projection. Designing puppets and environmental projections.
c. Building: Building shadow screen, puppets, digital media and black box performance area
d. Installation: New Building, part of the Anti-Hate Initiative
e. Production: maintenance and operation of puppets and technologies during public displays

Students will be working in LG-038 studio space during the testing, design, and building stages of the project. A faculty advisor will be in attendance for each work session.