Shadow Goblin

Currents New Media – 2022 proposal submission
Shadow Goblin, 2021, mixed media, embedded electronics
Diorama: 8” x 8” x 14” tall. Pedestal: 18″ x 18″ x 48″ tall.

Taylor Hedum 
1225 Santa Fe Dr #634, Denver, CO 80204  
(575) 202-3556 

Artist Bio 

Most of my artistic practice involves working with electronic sculptures and interactive installations. In 2019, I graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Experimental Art and Technology from The University of New Mexico. Out of school, I worked with Meow Wolf in Santa Fe to assist with the completion of projects for their Las Vegas exhibition. In mid-2021, I moved to Denver to work with Meow Wolf as an Exhibition Technologist. My day-to-day duties are to operate, maintain, and upgrade the exhibition’s technology-embedded artworks. We work with custom circuitry and computer programming daily to ensure consistent interactive functionality. I enjoy the imaginative practice of entwining technology with storytelling, using electronics as tools and mediums to drive the artworks’ narratives. 

The work that I’m proposing for Currents New Media 2022 Exhibition features an interactive, kinetic diorama of an impish creature with unclear intentions. 

Artist Statement 

A shadowy figure stands amid a field of crystals. The humanoid cave-creature holds a lightly pulsating shard of crystal, while scanning the surroundings with a single beady eye. As people cross paths with this shadow goblin, the head articulates to watch the audience, while the crystals emanate vibrant waves of color. Luring the onlookers closer – like a fly into the bug zapper – this magical monster attracts prey with light in the dark caves of which they reside. With a transference of energy triggered by physical touch, these abyssal shapeshifters have been seen mimicking the shadows of their victims. Scientists speculate that this behavior functions as a tactic to lure larger prey, and thus be able to shift into greater shadows and further their reach into the world. 

Fig. 1 – Sketch of diorama. Red labels are electronic components. Green labels are sculptural mediums. 

Technical Specifications / Equipment List

This diorama will be sculpted in wire-wrapped Polygem around quartz crystals, with electronics embedded into the sculpture. The creature will be coated with an ultra-dark black pigment to represent the creature as a shadow. Components include: thermal camera in the face, pan/tilt motors to articulate the head, individually addressable LEDs in the crystals, and a capacitive-touch sensor in the foil base. 

A Teensy 3.6 microcontroller handles sensor data and LED output. A Raspberry Pi (rPi) computer processes thermal-camera data and motor control. The Teensy and rPi use serial communication to synchronize modes: wake up, idle, attract, scan, found person, urge person, shadow stolen, sleep mode. Each mode will blend between color palettes of varying intensity, with expressive variations of head movement from a multi servo-motor setup. Modes can be changed with interactive triggers: be in view, be in motion, alter range (get closer or farther away), touch crystal. 

I have used all of the components in this project for similar work in the past, so I am excited to string them together to create an interactive creature with a storytelling aspect. **All components and materials to be provided by the artist. The only requirement is a power outlet. 

Fig. 2 – Block diagram of components, power cables, and data flow. 

Spatial Specifications / Installation Plan

This artwork requires access to a standard electrical outlet. A white pedestal is provided by the artist (18” x 18” x 48” tall), which abuts the wall to conceal the outlet and provide power to the diorama. Ideally, the pedestal is positioned in a dimly lit area or in a dark corner. The refractive quality of the minerals provides an ominous aura of light that blends with the sculpture’s ultra-dark pigment. Signage, reading light, and wall-mounting hardware will be provided by the artist. **All aspects of the work’s installation, documentation, maintenance, deinstallation, and cleaning of leased space will be the responsibility of the artist.