Gallery > Rain/fall with Meg Mitchell

Rain/fall: the app and the book

Denise Bookwalter
Meg Mitchell

The project Rain/fall accentuates the physicality of the book and the possibilities of contemporary technology combining these seemingly disparate forms to create a complementary cross platform reading experience.

Rain/fall is driven by geography and weather. The text in both the app and the book is determined by where the reader is and what weather the reader is experiencing at that location. In the app the reading experience is driven by location and weather data culled from a live database and in the book the experience is driven by the reader who inputs his or her own weather data.

As we created the book and the app, we were interested in accentuating the differences and similarities of a physical book and the digital app. One of the big questions we considered was “How can we make an artists’ book that functions like a database”. There are a lot of answers to this question. We thought of charts, tables, and volvelles. We decided on volvelles for their visual and interactive qualities. The volvelles contained all of the information and required the reader to choose which information they would access.

In the front of the book and at the beginning of the app there is a key, which gives the reader access to the icons that connect to the weather conditions. In the app the weather condition is determined by their location and a weather database. In the book the reader must choose which weather condition best fits the weather where they are and then follow that icon through the book. In the book we assume that the reader will choose what weather condition they are currently experiencing but nothing stops them from choosing at will and allowing them to explore all layers of the narrative.

Once the icon is chosen on the decoder volvelle, the reader moves through the eight spreads of the book, turning each volvelle to reveal the snippet of poetry on each page that matches the weather icon. There are twenty-four weather conditions possible so twenty-four variations of reading. Both artists wrote the snippets collaboratively.

When we created the snippets we planned the snippets to be a secondary narrative in the book and a primary narrative in the app. The primary narrative in the book is printed on the left hand side of the page in two voices. This poem is a static poem that gives the book structure and a primary narrative. Each artist wrote one poem with eight stanzas following the themes of, locating, intuiting, feeling, listening, seeing, forgetting, remembering and knowing.