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The SACCADES Project: Amazing digital novel and work of art

The SACCADES Project: Amazing digital novel and work of art

A saccade, according to Wikipedia, is a quick, simultaneous movement of both eyes in the same direction. The word appears to have been coined in the 1880s by French ophthalmologist Émile Javal, who used a mirror on one side of a page to observe eye movement in silent reading, and found that it involves a succession of discontinuous individual movements. 

The Saccades Project is an open studio for Courtney Eldridge’s novel-in-progress. Courtney issued an open invitation to anyone with an Internet connection to view the process of her writing, to contribute, collaborate, and engage in the writing process through their photographs, videos, and music. Courtney is sharing the inspiration material submitted by her young collaborators via Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. 

The novel is about a fifteen-year-old girl named Thea Denny, who lives in an unnamed town in upstate New York. Beyond her sixth-period art classes, Thea hates every minute of school. She’s madly in love with her boyfriend, Cam, the first boyfriend she’s ever had. He’s eighteen and a math/computer dynamo who feels that geeks shall inherit the earth.

From the Introduction: 

"          Ghost Signs, the first novel of the Saccades trilogy, is about a fifteen-year-old girl named Thea Denny, who lives in an unnamed town in upstate New York, about three hours north of New York City. She’s in tenth grade, a high school sophomore who lives with her mother in a small two-bedroom apartment, and though their relationship is often strained by financial difficulties, most of their problems are due to the fact that Thea is fifteen, and her mother is her mother. As for her father, Thea hasn’t spoken to the man in several years, since her parents divorced. He’s not in the picture, literally, because Thea cut him out of all their family photos, after he left her mother for another woman. So that’s her home and home life, basically. 

          As far as describing Thea, well, she’s brilliant, for one thing. Not that her grades would show it—no, her grades definitely don’t reflect her intelligence. But still, the girl’s whip smart, she’s got a wicked sense of humor, and she’s an incredible artist, who loves high art and street art equally. Goya and Gerhard Richter; Jessica Hess and Chris Stain: same difference. Unfortunately, beyond her sixth-period art classes, Thea hates every minute of every day of school. On the bright side, she’s madly in love with her boyfriend, Cam, who is the first boyfriend she’s ever had. 

          As for Cam, he’s eighteen, a senior who transferred to their school at the beginning of the year, and the passion Thea feels for photography and illustration, Cam feels for math and computers. Born in 1991, '92, the idea that it’s geeks, not the meek, who shall inherit the earth, is his birthright. Needless to say, Cam is very intelligent, not to mention a very pretty boy. So much so that Thea can’t help smiling, simply saying his name out loud, so, of course, she does her best not to speak his name, certainly not in her mother’s presence. The thing about Cam is that he is the first person who has ever made Thea feel beautiful, talented, special, funny. He really gets her and no one else ever has, not even close. And you don’t have to be fifteen to appreciate how that feels. 


         So I started by reaching out to young artists I came across on the Internet whose work inspired me, and I wrote and asked if they would like to work with me. Having shared the book’s premise, what I asked, specifically, of each artist was that they choose a series of eight of their images and create a playlist of eight songs that I could work with. Provided with those playlists and photo series, every day for eight days, I began the workday by posting one song, and a few hours later, I posted the accompanying image. Then I would spend the rest of my day writing a "sketch," letting that song and image lead my imagination wherever it may, and at the end of each day, I posted that sketch—complete with typos and grammatical mistakes, I’m afraid. But still, directly inspired by these artists, the Saccades blog became my sketchbook. 

          You could call Ghost Signs "young adult," and a "paranormal romance," and of course it is, but really, I hope it defies both definitions. For me, it’s a book about first love, about loving somebody with all your heart, with complete abandon, and at the very moment that this brilliant girl, Thea Denny, risks everything for true love, the boy of her dreams disappears. Vanishes in thin air. And she’s left alone, reeling, haunted by questions. What happened to him? Who was this boy? What was true? Was it all a lie, everything he said? Did he love her? Did she make him up? Is she crazy? And, of course, "What if God was a teenage girl?" These are the questions that will guide this story, questions about art, technology, creativity, faith—struggling to believe the best of someone you love, when confronted with their worst. And a few other eternal themes, like grief, heartbreak, and high school. Please stay tuned. 

Thank you, 
Courtney Eldridge"


This is an extraordinary project involving many artists, photographers, and others, that takes advantage of much digital technology. Check it out here:  


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