This week I wrapped up the Big Cartel theme refactor, but the database migration as I initially wrote it would have required about a 3-hour outage. So I added code to run both theme models in parallel while migrating existing accounts to the new model in the background. I’m still testing everything, but it feels much smoother than my initial brute force approach. I hope to wrap up QA this week, but as a general rule, not much code gets written when the entire company gets together.
Alas, I have not gotten much done for button-down bird this week. I have been pondering our approach for our first app, When Comes What Darkly Thieves (to be paired with our first book of the same name). I feel pretty good about where the project is headed, but I very much need to spend some quality time in Xcode trying stuff out.
“In the tracing of a memory we change it and we’re released from the original image—we inscribe our own story.… A meditative device, like a book of hours.”
When starting to design the app, I found myself particularly inspired by Paul Soulellis’s recent Memory Palace. For this app, I don’t want to simply replicate the book in digital form. That would be relatively easy, but it would not do the artwork justice. The iPad is higher resolution than a typical display, but the fine texture of Ben’s collages is still lost. Having the reader zoom in and out is a hassle (too manual), and I want to keep the interaction simple. So the natural solution is to divide each image up into multiple frames at varying levels of detail and have the reader swipe through each frame of each image.
We create desire lines through the artwork. Each image is a space with text, music and narration layered over with music bridging from frame to frame. I do not want a sequence of isolated images divorced from the flow of the original artwork, so transitions between frames could be animated much like panning and zooming over a map. Within each frame, we will use subtle, ambient animations—glowing, flickering, deconstruction along the edges—but I want to keep this minimal so that it doesn’t stray into “watching” the story. We are not making a game, so the soundtrack does not need to respond directly (or obviously) to the reader’s actions (beyond the narrator keeping pace).
The sequence of images will not vary. Progress is in only one direction—forward. I want to use the linearity, making the movement from frame to frame a ritual. With each pass through the ritual space, we make only subtle deviations in sound, music or animation. The repetition amplifies the deviations, creating seams, surfaces for the reader to catch onto.
Next week: Salt Lake City.