Queerskins – new multimedia novel by Illya Szilak and Cyril Tsiboulski


Queerskins is a new digital novel written by Illya Szilak and beautifully designed by Cyril Tsiboulski, with a planned ‘socially networked’ version of the novel designed by Anke Stohlmann coming in 2013.

Illya describes Queerskins as “the story of a young gay physician from a rural Missouri Catholic family who dies of AIDS at the start of the epidemic. The novel begins with Mrs. Adler’s discovery of her estranged son Sebastian’s diaries. Reading these intimate, lyrical texts, users piece together the life of the man who has died. The interface consists of layers of sound, text and image that users can navigate at random or experience as a series of multimedia collages. The full work contains 40,000 words of original text, over two hours of character monologues, 50 videos and nearly 100 still images.”

The story is revealed through text, images, video and spoken monologues, described by designer Cyril Tsiboulski as creating “a layered experience that feels almost like a dream. The visuals have been made to look dated, as if they were images and sounds from a distant trip, or photos found in a dusty album in the attic. The horizontal navigation scroll is like a river that carries the chronology of these overlapping pieces of memories before our eyes.”

I really love the feel and depth of this piece, and the look and use of spoken monologues reminds me of some of Andy Campbell’s work, as well as The Breathing Wall. The navigation is minimal and extremely intuitive, and the piece looks fantastic on the screen. It’s intentionally not a light read, but the use of voice and other multimedia elements makes it a pleasure to experience.

You can read an article by Illya about the work which has some fascinating insights into the processes of collaboration and development at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/illya-szilak/queerskins-a-new-multimedia-novel-that-looks-at-the-beginning-of-the-aids-epidemic_b_2106771.html