The Book of Sand – Michel van der Aa

Parallel film layers melt together with music

Geïnspireerd door de fantastische verhalen van Jorge Luis Borges, plaatst Michel Van der Aa je in een ruimte waar alle plaatsen van de wereld gelijktijdig aanwezig zijn.

Engage young people with classical music worldwide

How do you get young people involved in contemporary classical music? At the Holland Festival, composer Michel van der Aa launched a whole new genre: the digital interactive song cycle. Van der Aa created the work in collaboration with the Holland Festival, Sydney Festival, Google Cultural Institute, BBC, The Space and other partners. The work has been made exclusively as a digital installation, meaning as a website and app. We took care of the branding and the visual interface.

A revolutionary app […] In many ways a wonder of cultural-technological significance.
Hans Beerekamp, NRC Handelsblad

The Book of Sand

The Book of Sand, based on Jorge Luis Borges‘s book of the same name, transports you to a space where all places in the world are present at the same time. Three film layers moving in parallel reveal alternative viewpoints, new elements and characters. As a result, your path through the story will always be slightly different. Surprising interactivity that will keep you coming back, and create your own version every time.

Infinite geometry

The logo is designed as an infinite geometric constellation, derived from Jorge Luis Borges’ stories. It corresponds with the style of the interface: thin or dotted lines, geometric shapes and infinity. Some letters build themselves, other elements rotate or slide back and forth. A bizarre spectacle that keeps the viewer’s gaze, always discovering something new. Just like The Book of Sand.

The Book of Sand' by Michel van der Aa is a small musical and visual maze in which it is great to linger. Also because it does not ever give away how much programming has been put into it. Chapeau!
Fransien van der Putt, Cultuurpers

Interactive layer structure

The story is told in three different layers of film and music. The viewer can interact with the storytelling by switching between the layers and finding his or her own route through the song cycle.

The most important vocal part (sung by Kate Miller-Heidke) is the same in each layer, but the accompaniment is completely different. Musically, the first layer is intimate, abstract and electronic. The second layer is more pop; including beats, electronics and a choir. The third layer is a capella, with just a twelve-voice choir. Each of the three layers introduces new viewpoints and perspectives.

Interactive art, which has been some sort of holy grail for several decades [...]
NRC Handelsblad, maandag 22 juni 2015

Universal acclaim for innovative art form

Through The Book of Sand, Michel van der Aa got noticed all over the world. His masterpiece garnered almost universal acclaim. From Dutch quality press such as NRC Handelsblad, the Volkskrant and the NOS to the international press like The Australian and The Guardian; all praise the originality and quality of this project.

Book of sand in de media
[...] Van der Aa has managed to show that it is possible to yield something, an artistic metaphor of our present virtual existence, which invites to zap and surf, without necessarily staying on the surface. It seems like the quadrature of the circle.
NRC Handelsblad, maandag 22 juni 2015