Thursday, August 4, 2011


Well, this is garunteed to me my thing: science, technology, nature, art, music, multimedia and Björk. I am, in fact, amazed I did not know sooner, but blame that on actually being offshore when Björk's new Biophilia app was released (thanks to bioephemera for the link). This is an innovative way of releasing music, taking avantage of tablet (iPhone, iPad) technology and the opportunities for interactive audiovisual apps. Though I've been a fan of Björk since her Debut album, and confess both her music and her subject matter are likely to hook me, and further, that I have the sneaking suspicion that Sir David Attenborough could read the phone book in a voice which would still be mesmorizing, full of awe and wonder, but I think she deserves kudos for this project, and for cultural innovation.

Thus far the Cosmogony and Crystalline apps are available. Cosmogony contains an interactive stylized galaxy, like the animation in the video above, which the user can navigate to each of the other songs/apps and can use to play with (almost remix) samples of Björk's music by moving fingers on the touch-screen. The intro above, the song animated as a stylized geometrical score, the actual score and the lyrics are included. The song itself is structured to mimic astronomical cycles and the lyrics allude to origine myths and modern cosmology.

The video (directed by Michael Gondry) above gives you a hint of Crystalline. The app allows users to create their own 'crystals' and associated music. This hits on the crystals in comtemporary art and illustration trend, as well as the harkening back to the Victorian wunkerammer though the "nature, music, technology" formulation feels very modern. Describing humans as the link between the microscopic and the universal, she ties all her science-inspired songs/apps together (ranging from microscopic scales of the virus, through the planetary with moon, mutual core and solstice, and the galactic dark matter to universal cosmogony). Unlike the Victorian approach to natural history, and obsessive collecting of wunderkammer, which was fueled by nostalgia and a morbid fear of death, this project is permeated with wonder and optimism about the future, and the opportunities for technological advancement to lead to a more harmonious relationship with nature. The earth scientist in me can't wait to see what she comes up with for mutual core, which alludes to the structure of the Earth and plate tectonics. The artistic and musical interpretations of the subject matter are (thus far) more metaphorical than literal, but what I've seen is both engaging (mesmerizing, even) and surprisingly educational. I love the way the user is invited to participate, manipulating and creating more music. This is a very refreshing way of viewing fans as participants at minimum and possibly even collaborators rather than mere consumers. I love also the understanding that scientific explanations of the beauty we see around us makes these things more wonderful, not less.

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