Category: Broken narratives (Berta’s project)

Broken narratives



I chose the obsession brief and decided to take a quite literal approach to the storyline. The beginning of the book appears normal, until a mouse scurries along the bottom of the page, and from here the destruction mirrored in the brief begins through the majority of the book to convey the frantic search for the mouse. This continues up until the tears in the pages reveal a growing blackness, to represent that after all of the destruction there is nothing to be found.


After choosing labyrinth as my selected word for the task, the start of the brief stated that the story started with a family entering a house. This encouraged me to use a scalpel to cut out the shape of windows, a door and a roof to connotate this. As the book progresses the pages start to slowly change and include different textures to link with how each room within the brief all look different, adding to the illusion that the characters are completely lost within the labyrinth.

Floating Comic (Staircase)

I chose this piece from the box as I thought it would give my work a little more variety from the other works with its comic book styling rather than a more traditional book. With this I decided to use the panels of the comic is a unique way in order for each individual panel to stand out and flow with the rest of the panels in a downward sloping fashion. I did this by allowing the panels at the top of the page to overlap the following panels to give the narrative a downwards sloping feel, sticking with my theme “staircase” (a downward spiral ascending into misery at the bottom). With this theme I also picked the prefect spread in the book as it starts with calm and contentless and slowly terns to despair as the characters a violently killed.


For my theme I chose “Obsession”, for each stage of the story there is a section of the book to represent it. 

Firstly the story begins with a woman reading a book in the library, so I left the pages as they were. 

She is alone.

And starts to hear some noises, represented by the concentric circles.

In the later end of this section the reader gets a glimpse of the mouse, but never sees it again.

She starts to look for this mouse, and starts to look under objects, and gets more and more obsessed about finding the mouse and eventually tears up the floor board and carpet.

She finds nothing.


For this mini project I picked the brief of staircases as I wanted to experiment with different levels within a book and how this manipulation would effect the text.

The first thing that I wanted to do was have two different path ways, the best way to do this was to cut the book in half which I did. I did this as I wanted to represent the two sides one being the severely ill and the other more mild illness. I represented the two sides by two different staircases both going downwards. The first staircase has clean lines that go down in an even manner. The string leading down shows that allow although he has a clearer mind it still isn’t perfect and this is shown as adding this has made the pages much harder to read due to the tension. The other set of staircasaes follows a lot more uneven and different variations of steps. I created this by having every step both a different size and different methods, for example one has negative space within the step and another has lots of texture. This staircase represents the people that are most ill so therefore following this path down wouldn’t be a good experience.

Obsession Through Pages

Having looked at the brief lists, ‘Obsession’ immediately stood out to me. I intended to present the gradual progress of obsession, setting in after time and slowly creeping into borderline insanity.

Reflective of the woman happily reading in the library, the first half of the book remains in tact. However, after around half way, I begun to add to the book. I began to scribble over the pages in red pen, firstly just lines and then into words, transitioning from red pencil to red pen and finally a red Sharpie. These became more aggressive as the book continued on, showing the increasing annoyance the woman has in the sounds. As this change is a slow increase throughout the entire book, this is not seen in the images above.

Similarly, I began folding the corners of the pages, becoming more noticeable and regular the further into the book you get. This is to mirror how the woman would keep putting her book down to investigate the source of the noise. Later in the pages, the woman’s written voice appears, first seen in pencil, then pen and finishing with a Sharpie, the same format as the mouse. The coherent sentences quickly turn into almost deranged scrawlings, ending with multiple pages of repeated questioning “Where is it?”, as seen in the first image. In my initial brainstorm, I decided that repetition was a key source of annoyance, which is why every choice is repeated with gradually increasing intensity.

Finally, again mirroring the brief as the woman rips the library apart trying to find the source of the noise, I began tearing the final pages. By  ripping more and more each time, a gradient wave is formed, creating a visually appealing textural difference and adding dimension to the book. The entire back cover is gone, as seen in the final two images, showing this as an endless narrative, the woman never finding the mouse and receiving the closure she desires, pushed to insanity by the noise.

Cambridge Institution

When deciding what brief to choose for Berta’s project I was instantly drawn to ‘staircase’. It was like I had the perfect book to do so, I decided to put my own spin on the project while trying my best to stick to the brief. The front cover is a man looking onto what seems to be nothing, for me this character was at the front of what was the ‘Cambridge Sanatorium’, which is shown from the first two photos.

From there you can see a clean descendance into the 7 floors of the Sanatorium, as you get deeper the darker it gets which is reflective of the on goings. As you get right to the bottom you start to see bars, showing the Sanatoriums darker secrets as it is actually more of a prison then anything else. The book itself is based on slavery so I used this as my reasoning as for why the man is being moved down the ‘hospital’, it is because of his race instead of whether he is ill or not. As a result of this I decided to stick racial slurs right at the bottom of the staircase.

Staircase Book


For this brief I decided to pursue the staircase narrative. To represent the idea of the man gradually descending I carved out a variety of staircases which lead you further and further down (or up) the page. Eventually you get to the very bottom which is coloured in black – this creates depth as you cannot tell where the staircase ends. I made the staircases on varying dimensions. This reminded me of M.C. Escher’s illusions.


Broken Narratives – Stairway

My initial idea for the broken narratives project was the stairway narrative, in which the protagonist finds themselves in an asylum for a mild illness, the asylum has 7 floors, the floor you’re on depended on the severity of your condition. The protagonist found themselves being moved down the floors until they were at the very bottom which seemed to represent death.

My idea for the design was to turn the book into physical steps, I then coloured the edges of the lowest steps black to fit the representation of death.


This is a mini project called ‘Broken Narratives’ where I experimented with ideas for a conceptual book and it’s materiality. I looked into the theme of a Labyrinth.

Labyrinth: a family moves into a house with unexpected spatial characteristics. The rooms keep shifting position every time a door is opened. The family members are trapped inside the house and start a journey to find the front door. While they keep moving from one room to the next, they discover that they are not the only ones lost in the impossibly infinite labyrinth of the house.’

The whole concept of my idea was focused on the rooms of the house and a way in which the family could escape. I created cut outs after glueing pages together to make a 3-dimensional floor plan of a fairly generic home (living room, kitchen, dining room, etc). I then highlighted in red the shape of the landing and hall way, which is in the shape of a key, to emphasise how the family could escape.