‘Re:Reader’ a digital experience celebrating Arundhati Roy’s ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’.
“I'd call it Utmost Perennial. It’s a new, fun way of introducing a book to people who haven’t read it. And another way of enjoying it for people who have. And it’ll be out there—everywhere— without an expiry date. Really lovely.” — Arundhati Roy.
The Re:Reader was launched on 23 August 2017 at our studio, among a small gathering including Arundhati Roy. As part of the launch Lisa Rath (Principal and Digital Head, ICD) was in conversation with Shuddhabrata Sengupta (Artist & Writer) speaking about literature, art and the digital experience.
What is it? The Re:Reader is a digital experience that blurs the lines between reading books and digital art. We think it’s a new and relevant way to reach younger and older audiences.
Why it may matter? At a basic level, it’s for millennial readers who spend a disproportionate time on their mobile phones, Re:Reader may trigger a visit to the nearest book store or online marketplace to buy the book. Yet it’s not like selling, but a light touch that people can experience joyfully, even if they go no further.
But more than that, it invites the reader to engage in an ergodic form of reading and experiencing a novel. A re-reading, so to speak.
Mobile apps, and the culture of the web create an impatient reader who demands reward or utility at each step. This is also an experiment to propose that the digital world can be about immersion in immersive novel, whose pace forces slowing down and encourages reflection.
It’s all about the joy of an alternate experience of The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, a way to fall in love, be willingly led, tap by tap, to its world.
This experience may act as a catalyst to read the book, and for those who have read it to add an experiential layer to it. Eventually it is about the joy and the quality of an alternate experience of ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’, a way to fall in love and be willingly led, click-by-click, into its world.
Re:Reader has snippets of text from the XII chapters of the book. Animations show the text in a new light; music brings the period to life, and with portions read by Arundhati Roy, it makes for a dreamy, heady ride.
It allows the reader to go back, forward, skip and play around with the toy as they wish. Each clicks delivers a different reward, a little as it would be if you could talk to the author one to one. Each reader will take a different path, and therefore differently experience the book, its mood and its narration. That’s the beauty of this Re:Reader.
This kind of web presence for a novel is the first of its kind ever done for an author. Like the author’s voice, it’s a new, surprising, silent and powerful way to re-read it. That is the most powerful achievement of this ‘toy'.
Pictures of the event