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The Lost code of Tarot

tarot Deck and hybrid Novel

Multimedia Project

Illustrations: Andrea Aste

Author: Andrea Aste

Design: Andrea Aste

Publisher: Lo Scarabeo, Italy, 2015

The Book of Shadows is a multimedia project I have created as an artistic answer to the question "who invented the Tarot?” I imagined a visionary parallel world revolving around a mysterious manuscript and a deck of Tarot cards, obscure works of a fictional Alchemist. It is an adventure in a land of dangers, mysteries and untold truths, where alchemy, magic and science are intertwined in secret ciphers and cunning plots, all on a background of ancient struggles between occult powers.

The project consists of a hybrid novel, an original deck of tarot, a full length mockumentary and immersive social media experiences and games. After a successful crowd funding campaign, The Book of Shadows was picked up and distributed internationally by the publishing house Lo Scarabeo.

It was the worlds first Tarot deck published alongside a book narrating the stories of a fictional world. It was a great success, so much so that I spent the following year touring between USA and Australia to present it! It was a turning point in my career; after the tournee I moved my studio to London.

Combining film, animation, writing and illustration/art to create a multimedia experience was one of my dreams! It took me three years of hard work: I was alone taking care of every single aspects of The Book of Shadows: during the day I was studying filming, editing and special effects (it was my first film!), and during the night I was creating the project piece by piece.

This project remains a beloved deck, along with the Mockumentary, Movie and Art Pieces. The Book of Shadows deck has sold-out and is currently out-of-print.

The hybrid novel, presented like an authentic journalistic investigation, traces the history of the tarot from its first creation through the sensational archaeological discoveries and decoding. The plot thickens when a fight between opposing occult powers and secret sects intervene to protect its dangerous mystery.

Click here to discover more about the Mockumentary

Technique: digital illustration, black & red inks on antiquated paper, watercolours, oils colours, photography.

The art

To realise the the manuscript and a deck of Tarot cards, I drew inspiration from suggestive old tomes: Leonardo da Vinci’s codes, the Voynich Manuscript and  XV century geometry tomes of the Islamic civilization, alongside with the oldest surviving decks of tarot cards. By using symbols, allegorical images and esoteric languages derived from these works, I have wanted to echo a sense of magic and mystery typical of a time where ancient myth and new ideas were fused.

The manuscript and tarot were realised with red and black inks on aged paper, a technique I devised after many experiments and tests. For the success of the project I had to act like a forger: everything had to look genuinely antique, with marks left by the passing of time, stains and missing bits here and there… and it worked; when I presented The Book of Shadows many believed it was an authentic archaeological discovery!

The Manuscript of the Alchemist tells the story of his researches and inventions, the history of a lost city with his inhabitants, customs and curiosities. The illustrations  are surreal and surrounded by bizarre symbols to let the viewer’s fantasy run free.

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