Signs and Wonders 28: Catching a shadow

Evening Post, 23 Mar 06

WHERE: Outside Nottingham Magistrates' Court, Castle Wharf.

WHAT: Most things discussed in this series have been in place for decades and, with a following wind, will be there decades more. This week's subject is different. If you have a very efficient paperboy, and you're reading this at noon today, you have another 36 hours to see it.

Under Scan, by Rafael Lorenzo-Hemmer, claims to be "the world's largest interactive video art installation". It cost the Arts Council and the East Midlands Development Agency nearly £1m, but it's free to wander around. It comes on at dusk.

As you pass through, a super-bright projector flicks on. Then a computer guides another 14 robot-controlled projectors to cast images where it thinks you are about to walk. Stay and let your shadow fall over one, and it will begin to move.

There are 1,000 possibilities. Each film shows a person from the East Midlands making a brief loop of movement - many of them were filmed at the Broadway in the city last July. It's a beguiling effect, although disturbing when played out on these deserted courthouse steps.

And that points to the great strangeness of Under Scan in Nottingham, for now its final stop.

In its four previous visits to East Midlands cities, it has had spots with plenty of passers-by - the market places in Derby and Lincoln, to take two.

But with our square shut, it has landed where few walk at night. The only pedestrians here after dark are rushing for their trains, and not to be distracted by the wonders of contemporary art.

Those enjoying it then, are those in the know - you now included, I hope. And a court courtyard is certainly a fertile place for the imagination. Are these ghosts flickering in your path? Animated chalk outlines? I suggest you go and decide for yourself.

Under Scan is operating tonight from dusk until the small hours, and tomorrow from dusk until midnight.