A visual adaptation of the narrative »Der Sandmann« by E.T.A. Hoffmann
The reader is invited to follow the tracks of Hoffmann's main character „N.“ through paper, letters and acts of un-covering to explore his space of reality.
With the help of photographies printed on foil, fictional notes and pieces of old scientific documents, the reader is able to combine a world of imagination, the subconscious, dreams, magic.
It illustrates the experiences of N., but leaves enough space to invent own strings of thoughts, similar to how N. created his universe of man-made realities.
The original story by E.T.A. Hoffmann
In „Der Sandmann“ the main character Nathanael tells his life's story through letters written by himself. His mother puts him to bed with metaphorical words: „Go to sleep, the sandman is coming!“ - but his nurse creates terrific, mad images in his head: she discribes the Sandman as a wild creature that rips out children's eyes while they are still awake.
His furious imagination transforms heavy footfall of a nightly visitor into a real, terrifying Sandmann who visites N.'s father. Secretly N. observes both of them performing alchemistic experiments - and has to watch his father die. His burnt-out eye sockets haunt N. ever since.
The image of the Sandmann follows N.s frantical life: he mistakes a man who sells optical instruments for the feared creature. This catalyses a fanatical caleidoscope ride: N. falls in love with an automatic doll, sees shadows, spirits, burning-wild eyes everywhere - until he can't take it anymore.
The (un)conscious mind, imagination, madness and reality melt into each other: the mind itself decides what's real - and what is not.
How can a story become visually alive - like if it was real? How can the reader experience similar things as N.?
Hoffmann's book addresses imagination, ambiguity of cognition, multi-layering of reality and presents an alternative reality to the reader which the protagonist explores with his own imagination. This is translated into visual and haptic fragments which merge to an interactive experience.
Empathy and and experience
The story becomes literaly real through the books of N. The haptical play with paper, text, notes, layers of foil-images creates room to explore, imagine and re-combine. Just like N. did to create his wild world of imagination.
The plot is presented in a mystified / fragmental manner, framed by N.s quotes on paper, photography and old documents. Those elements help to illustrate N.s perspective through layered shadow images.
New ways of thinking
By combining images, text and content in juxtapositions, new intellectual constructs are created. Logic and imagination of the reader combines content in a sureal, inspiring process of creation.
Conceptional layers of the books
Matter of perspective
In ‚Der Sandmann‘ exists no absolute reality - only perspectives define how things are to be perceived.
Virtuality is reality
It does not matter if it happens in a more obejective reality or N's subjective imagination. Everything is real for N. and the reader follows this alternative reality.
Imagination through ambiguity
Gaps, fragmental pieces and vagueness trigger new combinations of thoughts in the recipients mind: he's provoked to create further pieces of the story.
Blurred states of cognition
Hoffmann does not clarify whether the experiences of the main character are 'real', 'madness', dream or imagination. Different shapes of cognition become indisctinct.
The original plot explores piece by piece a higher level of reality. The reader keeps track (similar to a detective) of N.s experiences and perspective upon reality.
Suspense as an emotional base
A dark, eerie undertone creates tension, awareness and an open-mindedness to breed vivid imagination.
Material layers of the books
Multi-layering plays a main role in N.s note books. Comprehensive layers lead the reader from the outside into the innermost of N.s mind: from his study room into documents, images and notes that appear to be incidentally added to his notebooks. Those narrative pieces of information merge to a explorative composition of N.s mental landscape.