5 thoughts on “From novel to fingernail

  1. One question I have — and I’ve been thinking about this a lot, but I think this is a good example of it — is whether there’s a useful and consistent difference between an adaptation and a reference. There seems to be a category of things — some of the nail art here, maybe the Gatsby Collection from Brooks Brothers, the Death in Venice strawberry cocktail, some of the direct-from-the-show eateries in Simpsons Land, to name a few — in which a detail from a given work is blown out and/or made material. Certainly translating a detail from one medium to another (fabric, liquor, nail polish, hamburgers, etc.) is an interpretive act. But are all transmedia interpretations adaptations? It seems to me (maybe) that there’s a difference of some sort between adaptive/interpretive works that interact with the motion/narrative/intentions of a piece, and adaptive/interpretive works that lift a decontextualized slice of the original.

  2. This nail art is awesome, and I agree, Rachel- are we to consider art like this an adaptation? Oral references to other works come up quite often in television shows, films, etc, but we don’t consider these references adaptations in themselves. Is this nail art an adaptation then? Would Halloween costumes be adaptations of favorite characters, then?

    • This is an issue I’ve had to deal with repeatedly in doing the research for the class. There is definitely a grey area, and I’ve omitted some things that I’ve found because they seem to be “mere” allusions. For instance, I came across two different songs titled “Death in Venice” that I didn’t bother including, because they didn’t seem to have much to do with the novella beyond being named after it. For the most part, rather than attempting to make a theoretical judgment, I’ve been deciding cases like this based on how interesting I think they would be to talk about.

      I think most people would agree that allusions within larger works are not adaptations, but in the case of the nail art, the allusion (if that’s what we call it) is all there is. They also approach the novels at a symbolic level, attempting to capture something of their thematic essence rather than just naming them. Still, it could be argued that the nails point to the novels rather than repeating them independently—which might (although it could be debated) be a crucial distinction.

      • Oh of course! I’m just trying to find ways to think about what happens when you take something that has temporal movement (various kinds of narratives) and then adapt it into a static, material object. How much of the original does the material object need to encapsulate to “count” as an adaptation, and — a more interesting question, probably — how do you do that?

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