Making the transition from a Krevolin-style adaptation to a Cornellian visualization of Mr. Penumbra is perhaps the easiest when it comes to visibility, for obvious reasons. However, my adaptation will combine the strong visual of the bookshelf with a more abstract representation of Clay’s achievement. When I think of how far he’s come from the opening scene of the book, when Penumbra is encouraging him to climb higher and higher on the store ladder, I think of the ascending bookshelves as representing his growth and success.
Since he is the main character, my blox visuals will focus mainly on him and his journey, but I would like to incorporate motifs of the other minor characters, such as the BAM! t-shirt and the dolphin and anchor, into my blox as well. This is because Clay would not be able to succeed without the help of his friends. All of their contributions are necessary if he is to succeed in his quest.
As far as relating the visuals of the novel to Krevolin’s guidelines for adaptation, I see the bookstore visualization as a symbol for the challenge Clay must overcome. Throughout the novel, he struggles with his confidence in his abilities, but his model of the bookstore his first strong attempt at problem solving. He creates the model entirely on his own, and his skills are what helps him meet Kat, the Googler, who helps him take the next step and get access to the book scanner.
The bookstore model symbolizes Clay’s ability to overcome obstacles with the power of his mind. Instead of trying to solve the founder’s puzzle the old fashioned way, he applies his technical skills and creative thinking to solve a problem in a new, interesting, unconventional way, thereby leading us to the second act of the story.
One thing I like about Cornell’s boxes, as I have said, is his ability to represent abstract ideas with concrete objects. In this box, I see the parrot as a combination of sound (song and speech) and color (the bird’s plumage) similar to what I experience when I perform music. I would like to use this as my inspiration for creating my quickness blox, since quickness in literature consists of simultaneity of thought and reading.
Since I experienced quickness as an auditory property of the book, I face the challenge of finding a way to adapt that experience to the visual medium of the blox. As a musician, I have always associated music with color. For example, a high E is an orange note to me, while the C, D, and E above middle C are more in the green range. This condition is called synesthesia; it means that when my auditory senses are stimulated, it triggers a neurological response which stimulates my visual senses, thus creating my dual experience of sounds and colors. With that in mind, I wish to combine sound and color in my blox, making what was previously an auditory experience into one which is also visual.
The quality of multiplicity lends itself well to Cornell’s aesthetic. After all, what were his boxes but collections of loosely associated artifacts? Going off of that, the novel itself is a compilation of visual images, created by text, which combine to create a story.
As I mentioned in my adaptation post, I would like to make the abstract aspects of the novel, such as the characters’ interdisciplinary approach to problem solving and the multiple ways of organizing and understanding information, concrete through the use of images in my blox. I plan to combine little snippets of text, fragments of LEGO bricks, and lines of computer code to create my blox and mimic the scavenger hunt-esque aesthetic of Cornell’s boxes.
I think my images of LEGOS and letters will guide my visual adaptation of the multiple aspect of the novel. The two units are similar in many ways; they complement each other the way natural language complements code. Both are geared towards some type of constructive problem solving, which reflects the characters’ cooperation.
Again, since there is such a clear relationship between multiplicity and the visual in the novel, I don’t think it will be too difficult to adapt this experience as a blox. I will continue with my practice of making an abstract aspect of the novel concrete through use of a visual motif within the novel.
This is an untitled box from Cornell’s Solar Set. It typifies how I want to approach adapting the lightness of Mr. Penumbra into a blox. In this box, Cornell uses symbolic representations of “light”–transparent goblets, empty hoops, and pictures of the sun–to create a sense of open space and weightlessness. The hoops above seem to hang suspended in midair, while the marbles are elevated above the bottom of the box by the goblets.
In my blox for lightness, I want to combine the form of a dragon (from The Dragon Song Chronicles) with transparent, shimmering layers. This will give a sense of the ethereality and otherworldliness evoked by fantastic literature. Like Cornell, I want to create a sense of open space, possibility, and wonder with my blox.
Lightness is a somewhat difficult quality to adapt visually. Instead of trying to capture lightness in an image, I will instead aim for the aesthetic of my adaptation to convey a sense of lightness. Clay experiences lightness when he reads about the magical world of singing dragons, scholarly dwarves, and wise wizards. For my adaptation, I hope to combine the visuals of The Dragon Song Chronicles with transparent layers and luminescent colors in order to convey a sense of lightness.
I took my inspiration for this blox from Cornell’s sand boxes. They, too, attempt to represent something abstract, like the passage of time or the experience of the surreal, through careful arrangement of concrete objects. When I was first reading up on Cornell, I found it difficult to understand the point of the sand boxes, but then I realized that while they are not meant to look like a specific thing, they are designed to create a certain affect in the viewer, one of pensive meditation on temporality. With that in mind, I will focus my blox not so much on a one-to-one representation of exactitude, but on creating a sense of precision and careful thought.
For my adaptation of the novel’s exactitude, I want to hybridize natural language and code in a visual format. The exact qualities of both languages are essential to the composition of this book. This one is a little harder to visualize because so much of the work of language is done behind the scenes: we can visualize a story as we read without having to think too much about the mechanics of the language. Likewise, we can even more easily use a computer without comprehending the tremendously specific code that enables it to run correctly. My blox for exactitude will attempt to make visible that which is normally overlooked.