The traditionalist may sneer at any effort to "sex up" literature with techno-interactive gewgaws, but Coloring Book Studio makes a more elegant attempt than most. Their new site, called "New Storytelling," displays a strange, impressionistic short film that's supposedly based on a famous short story. The film is bewitching enough on its own -- full of Escher-like morphing designs, dreamlike cuts of clocks and guns, and sinister digital corridors that look like they were filmed with a Super-8 camera. But if you want to see more, you have to guess the title of the short story that inspired it. A correct guess unlocks further levels of visually reinterpreted fiction. Here's a teaser:
If gorgeous visuals and fine literature weren't enough to hook you, Coloring Book Studio added another incentive: they offered a $1000 prize to the first person to correctly guess all the titles in the series. According to the site's creators, a college kid in North Carolina already scored the prize money, a mere six days after the site went live. (Damned college kids!) But instead of spilling the beans and ruining the fun for the rest of us, they're keeping the titles and films secret for a while longer. Don't try asking me for help, though: they wouldn't tell me jack.
But why trick up fine fiction with trippy visuals and game mechanics in the first place -- is that really what it takes to get us iPad-obsessed sheep to engage with classic literature these days? "We were just looking for a way to make something that people find engaging and fun," says Derek Dollahite of Coloring Book Studio. "You hear a good deal about 'transmedia' these days, which sounds like an advertising gimmick, but I do think there are new, interesting ways of telling stories and getting people involved that are opening up."
If you aren't enough of a lit-geek to play Dollahite's game (I couldn't guess a single title), rest easy: he and his collaborators will unlock all the films soon enough. If the first one is any indication, the rest should be quite a treat.