Forget designer explanations and architectural theory for a moment, skip augmented-reality buzz-art and over-hypedAR gaming … then take a look at the ‘reality’ on the ‘ground’ as it is: move around this series of white cubes and create your own shadowy wonderland at the intersection of art and architecture.

This light table looks like it is somehow casting shadows, and the result is an interactive illusion that puts you in the design-driving seat. Shadow-puppet structures emerge as you move around the blank boxes. Master’s of design student Joon Moon made this as her final project – and hopefully will plan on playing with it for years to come.

“In this installation, the shadows exist both in a real and a virtual environment simultaneously. It thus brings augmented reality to the tabletop by way of a tangible interface. The shadow is an interface metaphor connecting the virtual world and users. Second, the unexpected user experience results from manipulating the users? visual perceptions, expectations, and imagination to inspire re-perception and new understanding. Therefore, users can play with the shadows lying on the boundary between the real, virtual, and fantasy.”

So how does it work? Light is actually cast from above – projected down in response to a program that follows the movements you make with the objects on the table. Having seen behind the curtain, the question is: does it spoil the surprise or make the ‘magic’ all that more engaging?