In 1977, National Geographic sent then 28-year-old photojournalist Rick Smolan to chronicle portions of Robyn Davidson’s 1,700-mile trek across the Australian Outback, from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean, with four camels and a dog.
Beyond the resulting National Geographic article, the adventure inspired Smolan’s 1992 From Alice to Ocean photography book and CD, Davidson’s 1995 bestseller Tracks, and a 2014 film of the same name, staring Mia Wasikowska as Davidson and Adam Driver as Smolan. The journey struck a nerve among readers because of its daring and independence.
Now, Smolan—who also brought us the Day in the Life series and The Human Face of Big Data—has revisited that original journey in a new coffee table book, Inside Tracks: Robyn Davidson’s Solo Journey Across the Outback, that includes more than 200 unpublished and re-printed photos, movie images, and essays by Davidson, Smolan, and Tracks director John Curran.
The app enables readers to point their smart devices at any of Smolan’s photos from Davidson’s camel trek and immediately view that scene as it appears in the Tracks movie. Smolan’s photos inspired the film’s casting, costumes, and sets. (See the above slide show for comparisons.)
The technology does not use QR codes, but instead recognizes each image as a unique “fingerprint” wherever it appears–in a book, on the web, or in a gallery–and instantly streams a video clip to the device.
“Of all the books I’ve worked on, Inside Tracks is the most inspiring,” says Smolan. “My hope is that Inside Tracks and Robyn’s belief that ‘an ordinary person is capable of anything’ will inspire readers to embark on their own voyage of self- discovery.”