How did you go about the design?
In this instance we knew from the start, that for the first time in the history of the magazine the cover image would also be on the back cover. Which sounds great, until you realise that the reader has never looked at the cover and said: »Oh, I wonder what’s on the back cover?«
One doesn’t lead to the other. We had to try to find a concept and it came fairly organically. The technology lent itself to build a large environment, but we wanted to be inside this environment. We wanted to create a path to take the reader from the place you see on the cover and on the back cover to another place that would be in the app. When you move around in the city, you are also travelling through a lot of spaces. Fast transition is one of the characteristics of living in the city and every New Yorker cover tries to capture something iconic. Animation is not what the AR lent itself to, but with it we were able to create a very rich experience.
Because the city is made up of masonry and steel, we wanted to have something organic. Turning the subway into something like an insect or dragon or caterpillar and having the city grow like a crystal, where some of the things we were sending back and forth. I was also sending Christoph New Yorker covers from the 20s, from the Jazz era, that were cubist and deconstructed, showing different view points all at the same time. All this came together vey well and it was very exciting. We decided to limit ourselves to black and yellow, the colours of transportation in the city. And because we were doing everything in vectors and in two colours, there was some coding power left, to try to do movement on the buildings themselves. Instead of rendering one building with all its windows and bricks, we just took a very broad approach to what it fells like to be there. To feel the speed and the diversity of impressions, that you get in the city.
How was the feedback to this issue?
I am very happy with the response we got, it was terrific. It was a demonstration of an artist using technology such as it is and transforming it. We were not the first to do augmented reality in a magazine, but we were the first to do something exciting with it.
Will this be the future, to connect magazines to digital devices?
The reason this worked so well was that the point of departure was the cover, a simple drawing. I think that has a future, because the process is identical to how the magazine was printed 91 years ago. People can still relate to it. With a work like this, you do a bit of both: You have the exciting part of what can be done with a technology, but you are also firmly in line with tradition. The important thing is to use the technology not to take you away from the image, but to actually bring you back to the image. The technology doesn’t replace the image, the image comes first and things like these are the cherries on top.