The Long Version of a Short Story

Illustrated Novella
6″ by 8″ Hard-bound copy of the Book

The Long Version of a Short Story offers an eclectic narration of Anāhat’s journey through the Western Ghats. The book takes you on a journey through his mind as much as the Ghats themselves.

The intent of this project was to inspire people to view the Western Ghats through a different lens and give them a new vocabulary to understand and explain them.

The project was created as part of ‘Splice: The Iconic Joint’ under DEL Laboratory of Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology in collaboration with University of Pennsylvania.

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01

Need for the Project

Project Brief

Agumbe Rainforest

The Western Ghats, also known as the Great Escarpment of India is an area of spectacular scenery, rugged terrain, deep valleys, impressive waterfalls, and dense forest teeming with wildlife. This mountain chain is recognized as one of the world’s eight ‘hottest hotspots’ of biological diversity.

Scientists, Researchers, Policy makers, Bureaucrats, Politicians, Villagers and Tribes are just some of the stakeholders who are affected directly by the Western Ghats. They all have varying perspectives and different views on rights and privileges with respect to the Ghats.

This interaction creates a state of flux to each aspect that human lives touch in the Western Ghats. Keeping this changeability in mind a new vocabulary is needed to allow for a clearer understanding of the ephemeral and dynamic nature of the Ghats.

02

Exploring the Splice

Material Explorations

Tracking the surface development of a Soap Bubble

There have been many attempts at understanding and exploring the Ghats, most of which have contributed to our current knowledge about this mercurial mountain range. However, herein lies the problem; using a static frame to map a dynamic entity will only yield partially correct results.

Here, I would like to suggest that The Western Ghats is a Bubble, an ephemeral act of appropriation, comprising of many such acts of appropriation within it. Thus, exploring the Ghats as an ephemeral splice as opposed to a set of boundaries would help create a dynamic lens through which they could be experienced in their entirety.

Joining inside and outside momentarily in a bubble. A bubble appropriates air when it is formed. In this act of appropriation it momentarily joins the inside with the vast space outside. The bubble draws attention to the air it encloses by its presence and the air everywhere when it bursts. It acts like a beacon, throwing light on the ephemeral nature of this splice.

The stages in the formation of the bubble – birth, instability, stability and death, i.e. both its presence and absence contribute in the making of this splice. Its transience gives it even greater importance.

Multiple Bubble Surfaces Developments Mapped

03a

Immersion

Research

Agumbe Forest (L), Malpe Beach(R)
St. Mary’s Island

The immersion field visits were instrumental in understanding how being in wildlife affects human psyche. The few days spent there where I was more in touch with wildlife felt more natural than any amount to time spent in the city.

The skill development workshops were conducted post the recce trip. They really helped me get started with my Narrative. The first sketch of the concept was done using words. The free writing exercise was especially very helpful as it declogged the flow between my thoughts and my words.

After the Immersion trip, experiential and photographic data were collated into various infographics to document the journey.

Read Project Documentation (ISSUU)

03b

Immersion

Structuring the Plot

To structure the data and research from the field visits multiple plots were created to map the visual information in a cohesive format. The plot was split into the four stages of the bubble – Birth, Wobble, Stable & Burst.

01 Plot_01
Birth
02 Plot_04
Wobble
03 Plot_04
Stable
04 Plot_04
Burst
01 Plot_01
Birth
02 Plot_04
Wobble
03 Plot_04
Stable
04 Plot_04
Burst

Birth

The first plot shows only the stable stages of each bubble. It is the first thing that people notice about any space, the obvious. This stage only allows for surface level understanding of any space or concept.

Wobble

The second plot shows the process of formation of each bubble. Each bubble is plotted in a linear manner to facilitate clear understanding of the process. In reality each bubble would be a lot more complicated.

Stable

The third plot shows interconnections between various bubbles. Bubbles are interconnected in a very complex network which has been simplified to facilitate linear connections.

Burst

The fourth plot is a simplification of the third plot, showing only the interconnections without the base plot. This plot shows that it is difficult
to understand interconnectedness of the plot without proper context.

The last plot and the need for a vocabulary to understand the myriad interconnections and complexity of the different bubbles led to the design intervention.

04a

Narrative Development

Storyboarding

Agumbe Forest (L), Malpe Beach(R)
St. Mary’s Island

Birth

All Text

This section establishes the language of the bubble and has the short version of the story. The Information seems incomplete, only part
of the story is understood. To understand the whole picture, the reader must read on.

Wobble

More text, Some Image

The long version of the same journey begins. Anāhat begins his journey in his apartment. This section establishes the inside of the bubble, the city or civilization and it’s role in Anāhat’s life.

Stable

More text, More Image

This section is marked by his arrival in Agumbe. The following journey moves on into the forest and then to Malpe, St. Mary’s Island and so on. He finally ends his journey and reaches Udupi.

Burst

Combination of Text – Image

This section is in the form of a graphic novel, as it marks the beginning of realization of abstract concepts in the form of images and allows for understanding the impact of visuals through the words, both said and unsaid. This is the concluding section of the book.

The book is about Anāhat’s journey from Bangalore to the western ghats and back again.

04b

Narrative Development

Inspiration

There are several artists whose illustrations styles and methods of approaching illustration have inspired me. A few artists whose work has inspired the illustration styles of this project in particular are – Peter Han, Cosmin Podar, John Park, among others.

04c

Visual Style Iterations

Stage One

Different visual styles were tried with variations of pencil, pen and markers. Different types of paper were used as well. Some digital variations were tried but they did not yield the desired effect. The digital style for the bubble was quite interesting but it did not work well with the other illustrations. The final illustration variants have been shown on the next spread.

Different visual styles were tried with variations of pencil, pen and markers. Different types of paper were used as well. Some digital variations were tried but they did not yield the desired effect. The digital style for the bubble was quite interesting but it did not work well with the other illustrations. The final illustration variants have been shown on the next spread.

04d

Visual Style Iterations

Stage Two

White Paper, 6B Pencil, 2B Pencil
Brown Paper, Black 0.3mm Pigment Fine-liner, White 0.5mm Gel Pen
Brown Paper, Black 0.3mm Pigment Fine-liner, White 0.5mm Gel Pen, Koi Brush Pens (6 shades of grey)
Brown Paper, Black 0.3mm Pigment Fine-liner, Black Permanent Marker, 6B Pencil

04e

Visual Style Iterations

Layout Alternatives

White Paper, 6B Pencil, 2B Pencil

Different Layout Iterations were tried with variations of paper and typefaces. First – Brown Paper (for illustrations), Brown Paper (for text);  Second – Brown Paper (for illustrations), Buff Paper (for text); Third – Brown Paper (for illustrations), White Paper (for text); Fourth – Brown Paper (for illustrations), Natural Evolution Ivory (for text). The Fourth Alternative was selected and finalized for the book.

05

Illustrated Novella

Final Outcome

White Paper, 6B Pencil, 2B Pencil

Type One

Spread Variant

This type of spread is used at the beginning of chapters. The illustration also has a common curved line going through the left page at the same page in all illustrations. These illustrations represent the stable stage which is the first impression of any bubble.

Type Two

Spread Variant

These types of illustrations are things that are part of the journey of each bubble. They make up the wobble or the birth of the bubbles. They are the parts of the process that go into understanding the bubble as a whole.

Type Three

Spread Variant

Some spreads don’t have illustrations in order to give the entire importance to the text.

Type Four

Spread Variant

There are full page illustrations that are used to represent complex scenarios and provide a better visualization of certain scenarios.

Type Five

Spread Variant

These illustrations are used at the beginnings of stages – birth, wobble, stable, burst.

Type Six

Spread Variant

The last type of illustrations are the graphic novel spreads. These illustrations are more sequential and have text used in conjunction with the images.

06

Project Reflections

Learning Journey

Working on this project has allowed me to explore a different approach to design. An approach that isn’t oriented towards just problem solving but rather towards exploring ways in which something can be experienced and understood.

The project was based on the concept of a Splice – the connection between two things that draws more attention towards the new object created. I began the project with an immersion process based on experimentation two different kinds of splices – a material splice and an immaterial splice. The immersion process afforded opportunities to experiment with materials and concepts that allowed me to look at the Western Ghats in a new way by creating a different vocabulary with which to speak of them. These new words, borrowed from the material and immaterial explorations were the lens with which I went into the field visit.

In the field visit I had an opportunity to see, hear, smell and feel the different places that we went to – Agumbe forest, Udupi, Malpe Fishing Village, St. Mary’s Island among others. At these places I gained a deeper understanding of various concepts that I had only scratched the surface of before going on the field visit. Fieldwork allowed me to test the curated lens of looking at the Western Ghats as a Bubble.

I returned from the field visit and designed the way in which I was laying down information. The plot that was designed was a systematic way of looking at the different bubbles that I had explored in the trip. It allowed me to make connections between different, seemingly unconnected concepts and look at them in a new light. It also created an environment in which I could create an intervention that would allow others to understand the lens with which I had seen the Western Ghats.

Writing the book was a complex process since I was basing the narrative of the book on preset concepts. I let the plot of fieldwork direct my approach to the book and came up with a set of plot-points that would serve as the base for the narrative. The story itself evolved while writing into a seamless narrative that talked about the journey of a Anāhat through the Western Ghats and back. The purpose of the story was to allude to the notion of Civilization being the inside of the Bubble while the Ghats are the outside – inherently they are both the same, since the air inside a bubble is the same as the air outside of it.

In this project the material explorations allowed me to create a lens with which to view the Ghats, but which not presume to judge concepts as positive or negative. This allowed me to experience things that I may not have noticed before and make connections that I could never have imagined.