Travellers of Winden — A designer plots time travels of all the characters in the Netflix show, Dark

and the infographic is in the shape of the trinity knot

Streaming TV addicts and science fiction show lovers vouch for Netflix’s Dark, a German language set in a fictitious German town of Winden, that is intentionally confusing, overwhelmingly layered, and more twisted than meets the eye (The main character, Jonas, simplifies a part of the second season’s plot for us, “Now I have another grandma, and she’s the principal of my school! Her husband, who’s fucking my mom, is looking for his son, who’s my father! A few days ago, I kissed my aunt!”). To this, add time travel, David Fincher kind of mood, philosophical lines and mysterious prophesies dropping like dead birds (“The question is not how but when”, “Everything is connected”), actual dead birds dropping from the sky (they are also mutated), underground passages taking you 33 years ahead or behind, a rogue nuclear power plant, and if that was not enough, the show is dubbed in English and has English subtitles that, bewilderingly, don’t match the dubbing (at least in India), and you have a show so tough to watch, and impossible to not watch.

This project is a look at the journeys made by the travellers in the fictional town of Winden, Germany, over the first two seasons of Dark. The visualisation forms the trinity knot, as used by the characters in the story to demonstrate the timelines. With its complex timelines, events and characters in Winden are not exactly easy to keep track. Like many of the artefacts from the show, Travellers of Winden aims to provide some clues to the puzzle.

The show can get so convoluted that Netflix felt compelled to produce a user-manual of sorts, an online character guide that can be referred to when your head is dizzy with mental math of who the fuck is who. More help is offered by fans and admirers, who are dedicatedly decoding the show, like Bangalore-based graphic designer Akhil G, who was drawn to the show because of its comparison with Stranger Things, another sci-fi by Netflix. First time around, he devoured the entire two seasons in a marathon session. (He concluded, and we agree, that the two shows are more different than alike.) “Then a few weeks passed and certain things from the show started coming back to me at odd moments,” Akhil said. These timely-untimely epiphanies convinced him to do something around the show, the first step to which was to get a clear understanding of the plot himself. He went back to the show; this time with a notebook.

Copious notes taken by Akhil to plot the time travels of characters in Dark

In the first and the second seasons (which the creators call ‘cycles’), several characters time-travel between the years 1921, 1953/54, 1986/87, 2019/20 and 2052/53. The show is based on the theory that time has a third dimension, making it possible to time travel between years separated by 33 years (there are several theories on the significance of 33 years). Several characters time travel, some of whom are simultaneously doing it as children, adults and elderly. This complex overlapping of travels caught Akhil’s imagination. “What if someone was monitoring all the time travel in the show. Like if there was a Bureau of Time Travel that a character had to go through before traveling through time. For monitoring, the bureau might make a chart,” he wondered, and implementing that thought, decided to create a time-travel chart for the Bureau of Time Travel for travellers of Winden.

First part of the process required watching the show repeatedly and attentively to jot down all the time travels. This part Akhil greatly enjoyed. He was thorough to not miss Claudia’s poodle, Gretchen’s, inadvertent time travel in the chart. Including that of Gretchen’s, 104 time travel trips were made by different character, which became 104 data points, that were to be plotted in a graph. The data was taken in such detail that a note of the approximate hour of the day—morning or noon, evening or night—was also made, and while this detail is not explicitly stated in the infographic, it is subtly mentioned by arranging the travels chronologically.

Akhil decided to plot the data set in the shape of triquertra or trinity knot, a symmetric three-cornered symbol consisting of three leaf-shaped lobes used in ancient Nordic, Celtic, German and Japanese cultures, in pagan and Christian religious imagery, and a symbol central to our show, Dark. Maintaining the shape and proportions of the trinity knot while plotting the time-travel data set was the tricky part that demanded time and attention. “Before starting I thought I will spend two days to mark everything and two more days to finish everything. When I started I realised that won’t work, and the trinity knot had to be dealt with differently. Eventually, a few weeks were added to the project,” he said. The result, Travellers of Winden infographics, are so spectacular, even those blissfully unaware of the dark world of Winden would want them framed on their walls.

Time Travels of young, adult and elderly Helge
Time travels of Jonas, Adam and the Stranger. (Allegedly the same people but open for discussion.)

A version of the infographic reveals travel details of individual characters by greying out the information of rest of the characters in both the cycles. The cycles are connected with the central character, Jonas, and we can say that he is an avid traveller. “I had not planned connecting the cycles but I liked how Jonas’s travels connected it making it look like an infinity symbol,” says Akhil, and adds, laughing, “you know how they say in the show that there is no beginning and no end.” He posted the infographic charts on Reddit and suggestions to sell them as posters flooded in. He considered the prospect, but is waiting for season or cycle three. “The data will probably go even higher in season three depending on the direction the story takes. The third season may get much more complicated and different elements may be added. Once that is out, and the infographic for that one is done, then perhaps, I will make Travellers of Winden into a print poster,” he said.

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All images produced with permission from Akhil G’s Behance profile.

 

 

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