Archive for January, 2012
MotionPhone App Enables a new Form of Visual Communication
San Francisco, April 19, 2012
MotionPhone, a new app for the iPhone and iPad, enables a unique form of visual communication, allowing people to create animations together on iPads and iPhones. The app, created by Scott Snibbe Studio, is the company’s first release since producing Björk’s groundbreaking Biophilia App Album last year, and is a similarly innovative combination of interactive visuals with music.
In MotionPhone, fingers’ movements become colorful dancing abstract shapes whose personality comes directly from the way one moves. “Each person moves differently and naturally creates their own original style of animation.” said Scott Snibbe, the app’s creator, “Each of our movements are as original and recognizable as our face or the way we walk, and with MotionPhone, it’s the first time we get to see these traces of movement.”
As its name suggests, MotionPhone is more than an animation program. Using Apple’s Game Kit technology, the app lets two people connect to each other over local networks to have a ‘visual conversation,’ creating animation together on an infinite two-dimensional plane. The resulting collaborative animations, reminiscent of 1980s animated music videos, or experimental films from the 1930s, can be cacophonous or sublime. Snibbe calls the process ‘Visual Music’ and with the networking component, ‘Visual Jamming.”
The app was originally an interactive artwork that Snibbe says evolved from his days in college studying animation and computer science. Working late in research labs while listening to classic jazz albums like Mingus Ah Um, he created a networked animation program that allows people to improvise animation in the same way that jazz artists improvise music.
The program eventually found the attention of art curators in the 1990s, winning a Prix Ars Electronica prize—sometimes referred to as the ‘Academy Awards’ of interactive art. However, Snibbe always wanted MotionPhone to be distributed widely, at a low cost, so that the program could be enjoyed by everyone. As Snibbe notes, “Now apps like Motion Phone can be sold for the cost of a video rental, instead of the price of a car.”
MotionPhone takes the same social gaming technology that lets you play Scrabble with your friends—Apple’s Game Kit—and uses the system for collaborative play and communication, much like parlor games of the 19th century. Snibbe believes MotionPhone, despite being almost twenty years old, is the first commercially available networked animation program.
MotionPhone can be found in the iTunes App Store and is available for $2.99 as an ‘HD’ iPad version and $1.99 for the iPhone version.
Screenshots and icon:
Tripolar, an interactive iPhone and iPad app by artist Scott Snibbe, is now officially released in conjunction with the Whitney Museum. It is one of the first artworks commissioned by a major museum to appear as an app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Tripolar was commissioned by the Whitney Museum of American Art for the CODeDOC Exhibition curated by Christiane Paul.
Tripolar animates the tangled, abstract, ever-changing forms a pendulum makes as it swings over a base of three magnets, tracing the path it follows when released from the point you touch. The drawing that results is a chaotic system in which minute changes to the start position produce large changes in the pendulum’s path. By invisibly moving the starting position in microscopic increments towards your finger’s position,Tripolar lets you explore the points between pixels, simulating a resolution thousands of times that of the screen.
Tripolar was commissioned for CODeDOC, an online exhibition curated by Christiane Paul in 2002 for the Whitney Museum’s Artport website that explored the relationship between a software artist’s code and the resulting work of art. The original Java source code demonstrates that changing any of the few parameters determining its operation radically alters the work: in most cases making it non-functional, hanging, exploding, imploding, or oscillating.
Tripolar’s name suggests the connection between mental states and chaotic phenomena: if even a simple physical system is so unpredictable and sensitive to initial conditions, what about our minds? Chaos and complexity reign at all scales.
To further explore the boundary between a software artist’s work and the interactive creations made with “users” of the work, the iPhone and iPad versions of Tripolar allows you to move, add, and remove magnets to create an infinite array of configurations besides the original Tripolar configuration. Once you make a change the the original artist’s configuration, the title of the work changes from Tripolar to Untitled, marking this boundary even more clearly.
Screenshots for iPad and iPhone, and app icons: