Illustration 2.0

For the past year, I’ve been screwing around with a programming language called Processing.  It’s supposed to be an easy way to learn to program, especially for visual artists.  I’ve hammered away at it on and off for a little while, but haven’t really delved too deep.  I’m on a quest for something new in the way of illustration.  I’ve always been a fan of the illustrated book, as opposed to the un-illustrated book or the graphic novel, or children’s books.  I’m thinking of something along the lines of John Gardner’s “In the Suicide Mountains” or the Caitlin Kiernan short story collections that Richard Kirk illustrated.   I hate to think that digitization means we either lose the depth provided by the written word or the beauty of well-designed, well-rendered illustration.

Anyway, the point is, e-books are gearing up for yet another come-back in 2009, and I keep thinking that, while its nice to have a tangible item on good paper, how cool would it be to see what else can be done with books, in a digital format?  Especially with books combined with visual cues, or illustrations. You might say its been done online, plenty of websites after all, have done this (um, know any?).  You might also point to video games, which are starting to break the mold in terms of story quality, and the graphics are, admittedly, unsurpassed.  But I’ve yet to find the game that interests me for its plot lines.  No, really, the kind of ground-breaking work I’d like to see with creating truly interactive, dynamic illustrated books that have complex plots and above-average prose, it just hasn’t been done.  I wonder if it can even profit if it ever does come to pass.  Still, I search for the “just right” application that might help me to try and prototype something like that.  And maybe, someone can lead me to some examples of projects that are already underway?

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