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sterea skia

The cycle sterea skia [sterea gr. spatial; skia gr. shadow] plays with an allday phenomenon in a new way: shadows. Objects are illuminated not with a single but with two distinct light sources with slightly varying projection angles. Where both projected shadows meet the impression of a dark shadow corresponds to our common perception. But the parts where the shadows do not match red and blue edges of different sizes appear. This results in a special spatial perception. If you put on red/cyan glasses the shadow turn into spatial figures. Depending how you wear the glasses the shadow figures seem to fly in front or behind the projection surface.
Depending on the exhibition concept Tim Otto Roth adapts site specifically the shadow scenarios.

The philosophy

What would happen, if we could ignore our lens based optical apparatus and could see the world with different or better without eyes? Sterea skia creates with relatively simply means such a perception: a vision purely based on shadows. Although shadows are on the first view flat pheonomena they can turn into spatial entities by the combinatoric view of two slightly differing shadows.
This concept is inspired by the question how the everyday perception would change, when planet Earth is illuminated by two suns shining in different colours – the majority of solar systems in our home galaxy consists not only of a singular star but of two or even more stars. Based on this idea Tim Otto Roth simulates in the computer the daily revolution of a red and a blue. But he exposes also the same scenery to the light of a blue and red spotlight resulting into shadow casts functioning according to a completely different space scheme. The eight scenes at the wall of the gradation tower animate to have new look to the phenomenon of shadows surrounding us day-to-day.

Double star SS Leporis recorded by the VLT interferometer at the Paranal Observaotry in Chile. Credit: ESO/PIONIER/IPAG


The shadow scenarios for sterea skia are created by analogue and digital means. Shadows are recorded photochemically by exposing objects with a two colour light source on polaroid instant film or on slide film. The wall and scuptural pieces, but also the video animations are simulated in the computer applying the same physical laws for different virtual light sources. Here a wholw alley is modelled or art sculptures are reconstructed. The resulting virutal shadow theater allows to experience allday situations between nature and culture in a completly new way.

Simulation environment for the projection on the 100 metre long wall in Bad Rothenfelde 2015.

The simulations were created with:
Further shadow related projects by Tim Otto Roth: ars umbra.

On the wall of the old gradation tower in Bad Rothenfelde the spectator is confronted with a very special shadow theatre. Sterea skia is a special kind of shadow theatre: Human shadows move over the wall 100 meters long. The shadow casts of a nearby street pass by. The shadows of geometrical objects are turning in spotlights. On the first view the shadow's red and blue edges are irritating. The secret of these strange shadows is disclosed when the spectator puts on anaglyphic glasses. The shadows change into voluminous figurines. They detach from the projection surface and approach the spectator, so he believes to move in between; or the figurines seem to extend backwards and open a space behind the wall of black haw branches. These optic phenomena are created, as Tim Otto Roth uses for his shadow theatre no conventional white light source, but he works in a computer simulation program with red and blue light.

Sterea skia is a commsion for the lichtsicht 5 curated by Peter Weibel. Furhter participating artists of this projection Biennale are Holger Förterer, Eyal Gever, Ryoji Ikeda, William Kentridge, LASACT, Random International, rosalie und Robert Wilson.

6-chanel video projection, virtual anaglyphic shadow theatre in 8 scenes, 09:51 min., no sound.

Presentation time: 18 September 2015 - 7 February 2016. Opening: 18 September 2015, 19h.

Projekt assistance: Miriam Seidler, Wonbaek Shin, Jun Park | 4D-Modell: Fachbereich für Mathematik und Informatik der FU Berlin.

stera skiaAn extended catalogue authored by Idis Hartmann and Peter Weibel appeared at Kehrer/ Art Books Heidelberg.

sterea skia at Haus der elektronischen Künste (HeK), Basel

The HeK presents contemporary art in the context of the Regionale 17 together with 18 institutions of the trinational region Switzerland, France and Germany. The exhibition Die zweite Natur. Artistic reflections on nature in the digital age reflect natural phenomena with digital and electronic means to bring their sensoric qualities into the exhibition space. The visitors emerge into woods, clouds and star fields: A second nature created by the artists. Sterea skia is presented as a 3 chanel projection of 15 by 3 meters. For the projection with a red and blue double sun the orientation of the video projection wall was integrated in the shadow simulation scenario. The projected sun shadows correspond to the local inclination of the sun in Basel at the opening day on 26 November 2016.

Sterea skia is a work changing spaces with shadows and creating spaces with shadows. The forms of presentations are especially designed for each exhibition context. The projection surface is not necessarily a simple plane, but it can be also extended as a sculpture, as for instance a cube.

XX oder der 'Mummelsee in der Pfanne'

Do you sometimes have a feeling in a museum that you're standing in a wood? With sterea skia Tim Otto Roth has viewers stand in a forest, though not in-between the trees, but in the midst of their shadows. The computer is filled with wintry, leafless trees, then lit from the center with a red and a blue source of light. Encompassing walls have been turned into projection screens. The shadows cast by the trees are printed on lengths of fabric and presented as a u-shaped textile wall. Seen through red-blue eyeglasses, the shadows detach themselves from the upper surface and become three dimensional, appearing before or behind the picture plane. It can, in some instances, take a while before your eyes adapt to the glasses, when the effect then ceases. It is now that you get the impression of standing in a wood.

The work was carried out in collaboration with the Alfred Apelt Company (Oberkirch). [image: Wilfried Beege]

New Year Edition 2015/16

For this edition Tim Otto Roth designed a paper card with a unfolded pattern of a cube. The cube can be cut out and reconstructed to a mini sculpture showing a shadow figure flying within the cube.


At the exhibition Light from the Other Side at the Goethe Institute Washington this shadow forest is presented "unfolded" as a wall filling mural of 9 meters.

Obstruction. A hommage to Man Ray

With the video workObstruction Tim Otto Roth presents for the first time in the exhibition Light from the Other Side at the Goethe Institut in Washington a sterea skia-work reconstructing the shadow projections of an existing art installation. As a hommage to Man Ray he modelled in the computer the mobile Obstruction from 1920 consisting of cloth hangers. The shadows of the mobile are turning virtually. At the opening conversation Wendy Grossmann pointed out, that Tim Otto Roth develops with that work consequently the ideas of Man Ray further in the 21st century.

Wendy Grossman in conversation with Tim Otto Roth at the exhibition opening in Washington.


A Polaroid series introduces for the first time three-dimensional shadowgraphs. If you watch the inconspicuous instant images with the help of red cyan 3d glasses something curious happens: The shadows dissipate from the surface and create spatial figurines. Depending how you turn the image, the shadow pop up in front of the image plane or back into the image space. Technical the series links to brewery biologist Paul Lindner, who developed a technic of highly resolved shadowgraphs. The key visuals vary from geometric to amorphic arrangements of rubbish as Christian Schad could have used.

Auswahl aus einer Gruppe von neun Polaroids, die im Frühjahr 2016 im Rahmen der Ausstellung XX oder der 'Mummelsee in der Pfanne' in der Städtischen Galerie Offenburg zu sehen waren.

Sun on Stage a commission for 100 years bauhaus. the opening festival
16 - 24 January 2019 at Akademie der Künste, Berlin

Flat geometrical figures wander in a panorama projection over the 11-meter-wide wall of hall 3, where the special exhibition Licht.Schatten.Spuren is presented. Wearing red-cyan glasses the flat projection turns into an extremely subtle spatial interplay. Flat geometric objects appear to float in front of the projection area, squares not only grow bigger and smaller, but rather also change their depth distance to one another. This play with geometrical figures recalls the rhythm films of Hans Richter from the 1920s and conjures up allusions to Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack's Farblichtspiel, Oskar Schlemmer's spatial stage concepts or Moholy-Nagy's Lightprop for electronic stage (later also known as "Light-Space-Modulator"). The shadow-morphic space play developed by the conceptual artist and shadow researcher Tim Otto Roth therefore focuses on stimuli of Bauhaus aesthetics, but also develops a new dimension in the play with the geometric shapes.

With the aid of computer animation Roth even drives the play further into higher dimensional spaces. The series of projected geometrical bodies also includes four-dimensional bodies, such as the hypercube, which Theo van Doesburg also worked on. On a spatial level the dimension of time is also condensed by composing entire motion sequences into shadow figures. Sun on Stage pleas for a shadow type, which with all the euphoria for artificial light, as it also dominated at the Bauhaus, is visibly pushed into the background in the modern times we live in – the natural light of the sun. The artwork here fascinatingly shows us how shadows are ever-changing, depending on the angle from which the sun shines.

A commission for 100 jahre bauhaus.
Künstlerische Leitung: Bettina Wagner-Bergelt

An exhibition by Tim Otto Roth at Kunsthalle Jesuitenkirche, Aschaffenburg.
7. March 2020-16. August 2020

On the occasion of the exhibition Logical Fantasies at the Kunsthalle Jesuitenkirche Aschaffenburg Tim Otto Roth presented the work scarbo pirouettant for the first time.

Some impressions:

Aloysius Bertrand's poetical prose Gaspard de la Nuit (1841) inspired many musicians and artists as Maurice Ravel or Christian Schad. Tim Otto Roth fuses the various Gaspards and turns the Kunsthalle Jesuitenkirche Aschaffenburg into a universal work of art: from the gallery, we hear the sound of the third movement, Scarbo, from Maurice Ravel's virtuosic piano piece from 1908 traversing the room. This is combined with circulating projections of the shadows of three figures seen on the church ceiling, for which Tim Otto Roth developed his first choreography together with the dancer Zuzana Zahradníková, former soloist of the Munich State Ballet. Seen with red-blue glasses, one of them becomes visible as the foil figure that Christian Schad made for his series of shadow works engaging with Bertrand's prose poem. A mannequin whose shadow circulates as part of one of the ceiling projections is also taken from Schad's archives. In the 1930s, Schad had used the versatile wooden figure to stage a shadow theatre en miniature, as recorded in a photo series. The third figure breaks the circular dance in a mannerist way: constructed from rings reminiscent of Oskar Schlemmer's (1888–1943) figures, it takes up an engraving from the series Bizzarie di varie figure by Italian artist Giovanni Battista Bracelli (around 1600–1650).
The figures, however, not only have a characteristic appearance, but also possess their own formal language: while Zahradníková has the goblin Scarbo weave a net in the central circular projection, behind which the figure disappears more and more, Roth has choreographed a classical repertoire together with the dancer for a baroque ring figure. Schad's foil figure on the other hand, is based on a modern dance. Roth connects CT scanning, motion capture with a novel virtual anaglyphic shadow animation technique. The result challenges basic ideas of ballet turning a horizontal stage-inspired orientation to the counter intuitive laws of a vertical central projection on the floor.


An extended catalogue with contributions by Sebastian Baden, Thomas Richter and Barbara Maria Stafford has appeared at the art book publisher Kehrer. By its special stretched portrait format and its typography the sophisticated book echoes 19th century French lyrics publications.
Graphic design: Sascha Fronczek.
Exhibition documentation: Stefan Stark, PhotoProduction.

Nymphomania. An anaglyphic shadow opera in 9 scenes

On 18 November, the anaglyphic shadow opera NYMPHOMANIA celebrated its premiere at the Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum in Braunschweig. At the centre of the installation created especially for this occasion was the bronze sculpture Apollo and Daphne attributed to the Frenchman François Lespingola (1644-1705) from the collection of the museum, which is also often referred to as the Louvre of the North. For the premiere, the sculpture moved for one evening to the Foyer of Apoll, where it was illuminated anaglyphically with red and blue light together with the plaster copy of the Belvedere Apollo.
For the approximately 10-minute shadow opera, the figures Daphne, Apollo and Cupid, inspired by Ovid's Metamorphoses, move in a large projection of 4.5 by 8 metres, sometimes extremely slowed down, to the polyphonically layering sounds of up to five voices. With the Piangete which invites us to weep, the vocals wailingly describe the fate of the sexually harassed nymph Daphne.

Old Masters

The ambivalent, deliberately non-personalised title Nymphomania refers to a chapter in the history of music and art that was striking for Tim Otto Roth during his first visit to the Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum. Not only in certain paintings but also in sculptures in the collection, it becomes apparent that classical art history is not exclusively but repeatedly also a history of the aestheticisation and glorification of sexual assault.

Bronze sculpture Daphne und Apollo.

The bronze sculpture Daphne and Apollo from the collection of the Herzog August Ulrich-Museum, attributed to the Frenchman Francois Lespignola (1644-1705), can also be seen in this tradition. After an argument with Cupid, Apollo is struck by a golden arrow, which fills him with love for Daphne. The young nymph, however, is hit by Cupid with an arrow made of lead, so that she does not return Apollo's feelings. Apollo, driven by sexual desire, pursues the barely clothed nymph, whose hands are already beginning to turn into twigs. Her father, the river god Peneios, has no other choice but to turn his daughter into a laurel tree. Apollo, the god of poetry and music, has since worshipped the laurel tree, whose crown of leaves now adorns his head.

Spinning shadow choreography

Nymphomania works formally with two central stylistic elements: those of rotation and deceleration. Most of the action takes place on a rotating virtual stage. In this way, the spatial constellations of the actors and thus also the shadow play created by spotlights or an artificial sun change continuously. Only the intermezzi show the fleeing Daphne running towards the projection screen from a great distance.

The polyphonic canto

The extremely slowed-down shadow choreography takes as its musical starting point a madrigal-like part from the sixth scene of Marco da Gagliano's La Dafne, the first completely preserved opera (first performed in 1608). The polyphonic part with up to five layered voices was recorded extremely slowly and partly slowed down further in post-production.
The slowing down of the playback speed creates a slight vibration in the polyphonically layered voices. The second voice of the choir was recorded a fourth higher and sounds at its original pitch due to the computer-processed slowing down. These voices thus acquire their own timbre which, in combination with the slowing down, gives the early modern piece a special note. In addition to the edited original score, Roth works with an electro-acoustic intervention: in the extremely slowed-down recording from the woodworking industry, reminiscent of deep, rasping breathing, he finds an equivalent for Daphne, who has been rescued but robbed of her form.


Idea, musical arrangement and artistic production: Tim Otto Roth
Vocals: Svea Schildknecht (soprano), Neal Banerjee (tenor)
Dance: Zuzana Zahradníková (Syrinx, Daphne, Apollo), Lowen Größle (Amor)
Instrumentation: Gambe, Theorbe (beide elektronisch), "Violinbaß" Jonah Größle

18 September 2022, 8 pm, Kulturmeile Braunschweig


16.-24. Januar 2019
As part of the exhibition LICHT.SCHATTEN.SPUREN, conceived by Bettina Wagner-Bergelt for the opening festival of the Bauhaus Year, Tim Otto Roth presents his new shadow theater Sun on Stage at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin. It arises from his intensive examination of the protagonists of the Bauhaus, and in seven scenes takes various motifs from their works. Scenes from Hans Richter's rhythm films can be recognized as well as allusions to Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack's colored light play, Oskar Schlemmer's stage space concept or Moholy-Nagy's light props for electronic stage. Further information can be found here.

28 September 2018 – 13 January 2019
Yet another anaglyphic "hack" of the VolxTV: In occasion of the exhbition

30 September – 25 October 2017
Premiere of new "sterea skia " works at Phenomenological Lightworks, group show together with Sheila Pinkel (US) and Theopisti Stylianou-Lambert & Omiros Panayides (CY) at NeMe Arts Center in Limassol (Cyprus). On view is a rotating anaglyphic shadow of a tesseract playing with the exhibition space being projected over a corner. For the very first time a video from the cycle "Schatten.Zeit.Räume" (2013) is on show: With a special technique here the shadows turn the records from woods in the Black Forest into a weired spatial impression. Above all I "hacked" the VolxTV by Jördis Drawe and Uwe Schüler to create a little anaglyphic shadow theatre.

27 November 2016 - 8 January 2017: The HeK in Basel (CH) presents in the context of the Regionale 17 together with 18 other institutions contemporay art of the trinational region. In the exhibit Die zweite Natur. Artistic reflections on nature in the digital age a new 3-chanel video projection by Tim Otto Roth is on view.

9 November 2016 - 13 January 2017: Two new versions of wall pieces are on view of the US premiere of sterea skia in the exhibtion Light from the Other Side at the Goethe Institut in Washington. The exhibition shows a mural with tree shadows and with Obstruction for the first time a hommage to the artist Man Ray. Above all nine anaglyphic polaroid shadowgraphs are presented.

February - May 2016: Sterea skia was shown as environment in the context of the solo-exhibition XX oder der 'Mummelsee in der Pfanne', at Städtische Galerie Offenburg. Further information at:

Premiere: Anlässlich der von Peter Weibel, ZKM Karlsruhe, kurratierten Projektions-Biennale lichtsicht 5 in Bad Rothenfelde wurde sterea skia erstmals gezeigt.

media response & press images

5 January 2017, In the Galleries, review by Mark Jenkins, The Washington Post

3 January 2017, Die Natur im digitalen Zeitalter ist im Haus der Elektronischen Künste Basel zu sehen, by Jürgen Scharf, Südkurier

13 December 2016, At the Goethe-Institut, a New Approach to 3D Photography, by Louis Jacobson, Washington City Paper

8 December 2016, Roth in Basel und Washington - aus Oppenau in die Welt, Badische Zeitung

29 November 2016, Perspektivenwechsel mit Tim Otto Roth - Oppenauer Konzeptkünstler stellt in Basel aus, Acher-Rench-Zeitung

7 October 2015 Es werde Licht!, Emmanuel van Stein, Kölner Stadtanzeiger

25 September 2015 Licht aus, Spot an!, WDR 5

22 September 2015 Lichtsicht 5, projection biennial, by Michelle van der Veen, museumlifestyle

For images please consult the press page of the imachination projects.