DAGE MED DIAM – En illustreret hyperfiktion til iPad

Sara Houmann Mortensen
29 Jun 2011
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I have illustrated the 1972 novel by the acclaimed Danish author Svend Åge Madsen called Dage med Diam eller Livet om natten (Days With Diam Or: Life at Night). I chose to design it as an interactive e-book to be read on an iPad. The experimental novel is a hypertext fiction and has a total of 32 different endings. In a hypertext fiction the reading experience is based on the reader's choices among several possible courses of action. The structure of the novel is perfectly suited to the iPad where a tactile response can bring you directly to the next selected passage.

I have had a project like this in mind for a long time: to create an illustrated novel with an interactive structure where the reader takes part in the unfolding of the story. I imagined developing a paper book with a navigational system in terms of folding and binding: i.e. the book would open in different directions depending on the choices the reader would make throughout the reading the novel. But I quickly realized that hypertext fiction and hypertexts corresponded to the way hyperlinks function in digital media. This changed my focus. Why not engage in a new medium where the technological advances are bringing new and still emerging opportunities? Furthermore, this solution would certainly be more economically feasible and realistic to produce. I therefore decided to create an interactive hypertext fiction e-book for the iPad.

The project includes and reflects a broad area of work: from the idea generation, research, concept development and analysis to storyboarding, illustration development, layout and user interface design. However, as an illustrator my focus was primarily on illustrating the story.

The final product includes 19 illustrations for an excerpt of the novel (18 chapters), the layout of a total of 130 pages and a user interface design for the e-book format. Additionally, for demonstration purposes I produced a ‘dummy’, a PDF-file for the iPad with functioning hyperlinks, excerpts of the novel and illustrations. The dummy imitates a fully programmed iPad app of the complete novel.

The novel describes a love affair between the two main characters, Aliane and Diam, and their many meetings and intersecting paths. In the novel, the characters are represented in a variety of roles and identities. This is why I have attempted to create my illustrations with variations and diversity in the character sketches.
In order to substantiate the fragmented structure of the story the illustrations use and apply various media, techniques and expressions. Overall, I have ‘translated’ the concept of fragmentation into the technique of mixed media/collage. The materials used span from acrylic paint, watercolour, paper cuts to pencil and ink.

I am currently collaborating with a major Danish publishing house in finding the funds to produce the complete novel as an iPad e-book app. This will be my first project after graduating as an illustrator and graphic designer in January 2011.