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 geographically 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 contrast 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 artist book that functions like a database”. We considered charts, tables, and volvelles. We chose volvelles for their visual and interactive qualities. The volvelles contain the information and require the reader to choose which information they access.

In the front of the book and at the beginning of the app there is a key. The key gives the reader access to the icons that connect to the weather conditions. In the app the weather condition is determined by the reader’s location and a weather database. In the book the reader must choose which weather condition best fits the current weather at their location and then follow that icon through the book. In the book we assume that the reader will choose the weather condition they are currently experiencing but nothing prevents them from choosing at will and exploring 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 text on each page that matches their weather icon. Twenty-four weather conditions are possible and twenty-four variations of reading.

The text revealed by turning the vollvelles is the 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. We each wrote one of the poems with eight stanzas following the themes of, locating, intuiting, feeling, listening, seeing, forgetting, remembering and knowing.

Both artists composed the content of the project. Bookwalter designed the artist book and Mitchell designed the iPad app.