Our childhood was filled with creatures hidden in the dark. The feeling of them existing outside of our imagination was a source of interaction with the physical world, creating places for them to live. Our imaginary friends were sharing our secrets, they were our closest partner in the world discovery. One book that I recommend on the subject is The House of Make-Believe: Children’s Play and the Developing Imagination by Dorothy G. Singer and Jerome L. Singer, one of my favorite book on imagination and child development.
When I discovered Kage no Sekai, I immediately felt in love with it. The piece projects cute tiny creatures on shadows -and only on shadows- so that anyone can play with them, try to grab them, make them exist in specific places with shadows created just for them, or even trap them (see video of the children interaction with the system).
Photo by the authors of Kage no Sekai
“This device expresses this perspective not by using existing media but in the real world itself. The mechanism is concealed, giving the device the appearance of an ordinary piece of furniture. Although at first glance it looks like a regular wooden table, if you look at the shadows on its surface you’ll see the movement of mysterious life forms. When you approach it to have a better look, they sense your presence and hide away. They do not emerge while human shadows are cast over the table, but the life forms hiding within a distant shadow are watching them.”