First app post-Biophilia: MotionPhone by Scott Snibbe Studio is a network-enabled interactive app for communicating with animated colors, shapes, and movement. This application was Scott’s first work of interactive art, created more than twenty years ago and now released in a form where anyone can use it.
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 Center Technology, the app lets people connect to one another remotely so that two, three, or four people can 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.”
The app includes many features for manipulating objects and their motion. You can also share your videos on twitter, facebook or simply save to camera roll.
MotionPhone can be found in the iTunes App Store and is available for $4.99 in its ‘HD’ iPad version.
Platform: iPad / iPhone
Developer: Scott Snibbe Studio