Electric Shadows \i-`lek-trik `shad-oze\ n 1: intangible images, characterized by both light and reflection.


A collage of Arab American and Japanese American faces The U.S. passport page with photo of a teen refugee A field of flowers and a photo of a Native American man in feather headdress

Independent Lens on PBS.org is proud to be a portal to Electric Shadows projects which feature the unflinching visions of independent media makers via the Web. These award-winning Web-originals invite visitors to interact through non-linear storytelling and social issue games created by independent media makers.

Presented by Independent Lens and ITVS Interactive and funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Electric Shadows sites explore the arts, culture and society through innovative forms and meet the ITVS mission of taking creative risks and advancing civic participation. Since its inception in 2002, the Electric Shadows initiative has funded six online projects which have garnered a People’s Choice Webby Award, two SXSW Web Awards, selection as one of Time.com’s “50 Coolest Websites,” Yahoo! Picks, Cool Site of the Day and numerous other accolades.

The first two Electric Shadows projects, FACE TO FACE and CIRCLE OF STORIES were commissioned through a call for projects on the theme of cultural storytelling. FACE TO FACE uses images and words to connect the experiences of Japanese Americans in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor with those confronting Arab and Muslim Americans today. CIRCLE OF STORIES honors the Native American tradition of storytelling by joining the past with the present and preserving a cultural treasure.

BEYOND THE FIRE was created through a special Electric Shadows initiative entitled Electric Youth, in an effort to create diverse, innovative, socially relevant programming for teenagers, an audience traditionally difficult to reach through traditional broadcast venues. Site visitors sign up for passports and begin their journey around the globe—experiencing stories of teenage refugees now living in America, who tell their experiences in their own words.

OFF THE MAP, partners an e-learning Web development team with the American Visionary Art Museum to explore “backyard paradises” created by untrained artists, common people who express themselves through artistic endeavors that defy categorization. Visitors are invited to tap into their creativity and make a virtual backyard paradise of their own by scavenging through "junk drawers" to find "objects of delight" and creating their own visionary world online.

WORLD WITHOUT OIL is the first alternate reality game to enlist the Internet’s vast collective intelligence and imagination to confront and attempt to solve a real-world problem: what happens when a economy built entirely on cheap oil begins to run short? As the crisis unfolded in April 2007, people all over the world contributed stories to create an immersive, absorbing tapestry of the harsh realities of our dependence on oil.

The online video game FATWORLD explores the relationships between obesity, nutrition and socioeconomics in the United States. Players take part in a small-scale society where they decide what to eat, how much to exercise, what foods should be sold and what regulations should be imposed to determine their own health and that of their community. Get fat, stay healthy or die—it's all up to you in FATWORLD.

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Awards and Recognition
  • South by Southwest Web Award for Activism
  • Webby Awards Finalist 2008
  • USA Today Tech Blog pick
  • Cool Site of the Day
  • 01SJ Honorary Mention: Prix Green
  • Webby People’s Voice Award
  • Time.com “50 Coolest Websites” 2006
  • South by Southwest Web Awards – Finalist: Art Category
  • Macromedia Site of the Day
  • Design Interact Site of the Week
  • USA Today Hot Site
  • Yahoo! Pick
  • Cool Site of the Day
  • The Scout Report
BEYOND THE FIRE: Teen Experiences of War
  • Sundance Online Film Festival – New Frontiers Showcase
  • South by Southwest Web Awards – Best Educational Resource
  • “Webby Worthy” Site
  • Notable Site: Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism
  • USA Today Hot Site
  • Cool Site of the Day
  • The Scout Report
  • Exploratorium Cool Site
  • Netscape Network, Cool Site of the Day
  • Yahoo! Pick of the Week
  • Sundance Online Film Festival – New Forms Gallery
  • South by Southwest Web Awards – Best Educational Resource
  • New Media Award – Media That Matters Film Festival
  • Flash Film Festival – Official Selection
  • Distinctive Merit Award – New York Art Director's Club
  • Cool Site of the Day
  • The Scout Report
  • Excite! Cool Site of the Day
  • Sundance Online Film Festival – New Forms Gallery
  • South by Southwest Web Awards – Best Educational Resource Finalist
  • South by Southwest Interactive Festival Official Selection
  • Cool Site of the Day
  • Yahooligans! Cool! (Web guide for kids)
  • AOL Research & Learn History Highlight