Digitally Inside Out - Re-reading the Book

Deadline: January 27, 2004; 2pm


'Making a book is a craft; as is making a clock; it takes more than wit to become an author'
de la Bruyere

For a designer, the ability to understand and synthesise the socio-cultural aspects of the world around is essential. It is required to create meaningful designs that engage their users and are appropriate to their given context. This project sets out to develop and lay the foundations of these key creative abilities. As designers you will need to analyse your viewpoint or thesis against others, and in many cases shift your position to engage with each element of the design context, user, site etc. It is also intended that the project facilitates creative tensions that also enable the designer to shift and re-read the conceptual perspective of the project.

In this project brief you are required to fully engage with the book as a creative form, bringing your own reading of the book to the project. The ambition is to create something resonant and relevant to contemporary design culture. Your work is positioned to explore, expand and shape the field of design as a subject.


An example of a narrative concept of a particular book 'The Dictionary of the Khazars' by Milorad Pavic

'The Islamic demon punished Princess Ateh by condemning her to forget her Khazar language and all her poems. She even forgot the name of her lover. But before this could happen Princess Ateh orders one parrot for each word of the kzazar language. The princess teaches each word in the context of other words, like a poem or sentence. She then releases all the birds in to the Black Sea Forest hoping that the language will survive as the birds will teach other birds. Years later a Avram Brankovich (a diplomat from Constantinople) claims one of the parrots from the forest can talk in the lost and forgotten language of the Khazars.'

This example might translate into a particular interaction about capture and passing on words or stories and even forgetting, making the book or idea of the book relates to possible network reciprocity.

'Imagine two men holding a captured puma on a rope. If they want to approach each other the puma will attack, because the rope will slacken; only if they both pull simultaneously on the rope is the puma equidistant from the two of them. That is why it is so hard for him who reads and him who writes to reach each other; between them lies a mutual thought captured on ropes that they pull in opposite directions. If we were now to ask that puma-in other words, that thought - how it perceived these two men, it might answer that at ends of the rope those to be eaten are holding someone they cannot eat...'

This example could form the basis of an interactive piece that explored the inter-relationship between author, reader and mutual thought.


The project aims to develop your ability to contextually locate your work and to enhance your design process skills.


You are asked to choose a book that has a potential for the design activity of this project. The book should be of interest to you and retain your attention for the duration of the project. You could pick books like Alice in Wonderland, War and Peace, the dictionary of the Khasars, New York Trilogy, Dr Zuess… It’s your choice, so pick wisely.

We begin with considering the location of the book through its intended context; this could be adventure, love, war or even guidance. It could be fiction or non-fiction.

You are now required to reconstruct the book - dismantling the actual physical structure of the book and re-assembling in relationship to your own reading of the book. This is a task that should be done in the studio away from the computer and it will almost definitely involve destroying the original book, so you must be prepared to sacrifice your book to the project!

The book might have fragments of images, maps, illustrations etc, these could survive in its new form.

You are required to translate the narrative world of your book: through either your reading of the book’s overall meaning or a particular narrative concept from your book - for example it could be the overall idea of a book about scale, or the particular e.g. the tea party in Alice and Wonderland could be the new form of your design.

This is very much a 'sketch' process and the new narrative design forms do not need to be highly crafted. What is required is a translation of one or two elements of your concept into the digital medium of the computer interface. This might include scanning some elements, reconfiguring and designing an interface that is true to your sketch concept.

There are two vital elements of the design process that must be reconciled in the project: risk and uncertainty. The ability to uncover excellent design is rooted in exploration and a rigor that requires the designer to go through a process that is a new journey, and with all engaging journeys this will include new discoveries.


The intention of this project is to develop your design ideation skills, your experience in the documentation of ideas, your drawing skills and your modelling skills. These elements will form the basis of the assessment of the project.

The physical aspect of engaging with the book in its materiality is essential to rediscovering its new life as a digital experience. To fully engage with the design process you are asked to initially step away from the computer and explore sketch processes to allow the generation of rich ideas and uncover new perspectives. This will include sketching, modelling and storyboarding.


The project asks for two outcomes:

1. The first being a reinvention of the book as a sketch model design.

2. And the second part is a complete translation of your sketch concept into an interactive digital experience.

The outcome will not be the recreation of the original physical book as a virtual interaction, but must challenge the notions of the very design of the book at all levels, including narrative, form and pace. It also may only be an aspect of your reading of the text and not the entirety of the book.