The Shadow Piece
1. Pick a sunny day.
2. Try to step on everyone’s shadow as you walk around.
This score is mainly inspired by my childhood experiences and Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit. When I was a child, I used to play this Asian children’s game called Cǎi Yǐng Zi (Stepping on Shadows). The basic rule is that one person gets to be the monster as the game starts, and then it would chase the others trying to step on their shadows. If it succeeds, then the person who gets stepped on becomes the next monster. It’s a fun game, especially since we do tend to think of shadows as mysterious beings as children. Furthermore, since I grew up in a big city, there were always all kinds of shadows on the streets. When I walked around in the city, I would sometimes put a limit on myself so that I could only step on shadows for every step I take. It was difficult and required a lot of hopping around, but it was very satisfying when I was able to do it successfully.
In Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit, she included some scores that were supposed to be done in the cities. For example, “Walk all over the city with an empty baby carriage.” This inspired me to reobserve the way people walk around in cities, and try to figure out a way to make it more interesting. Besides The Shadow Piece, I also wrote some other scores like “Imagine your soul hovering above your head as you walk down the street. Try to see the world from your soul’s perspective” or “Sync yourself with the world around you.” All of them remind me of the hustle and bustle of the city life.
By performing the shadow piece, the performer should forget about their roles and responsibilities for a little while and just focus on this simple activity. The physical exercise and the limit the performers have to put on themselves should remind them of playing similar games in their childhood. The idea is that even while you live a busy life in the city, there are always opportunities to take little breaks, escape the social constraints, and find excitement out of your everyday life. By stepping on the shadows of people around you, they also becomes part of your little “game,” and this gives you a chance to observe people who you walk pass without paying attention to every single day.