Why shadow paintings? Plato's cave, of course. The very hierarchical, nay, paternalistic ideas that I read into Plato's cave allegory have annoyed me because I don't think there is a library of ideal forms, in God's mind I suppose, that we only get a bastardized version of. Recently, after reading Oliver Sacks' On the Road and Donna Haraway's Staying with the Trouble, I realized how I could agree with a version of Plato's vision. Suppose the forms are raw reality, and the shadows in the cave are reality filtered through our very particular, very idiosyncratic senses and preconceptions.
And why calligraphy? Because the Medieval world-view was so very cut and dried. The figures they paint tend to have clear outlines. The writing is a strange mixture of gnomic and pedantic, always pointing to a Great Truth. It appeals to my sense of irony to depict my sense of the ephemeral, ungraspable, ambiguous nature of the world using those Medieval forms.