PhiLia 01 is a new iPhone application created by the the Austrian visual artist Lia, one of the early pioneers of Software and Net Art who has been creating digital art, installations and sound works since 1995. The app is about artistic harmony, expressed through interactive generative movement, sound, form and color. Not too dissimilar from the Universal Everything’s V&A Installation at the Victoria & Albert Museum – context very different, the App is an interactive piece that engages touch, motion and complexity aesthetic.
When you start the app you are greeting with a vertical line ofÂ offsetÂ circles which if you shift the device to one side slideÂ acrossÂ the screen. You can continue to do this until you introduce anÂ effectorÂ which colours the discs the colour of your choosing and slows down the discs that pass through the area you touched. This results in an offset of affected discs creating an illusion of deforming spline made up of circle shapes. You can further increase the complexity by introducing trails, sporadicallyÂ rotating the device and changing the radius of the circles replicated. You can reset by double tapping or start again by shaking your device. A number of other options are includes such as ability to change the speed, disable all direction and turn off sound.
I found that attempting to maintain integrity of the spline by gently rotating the device produces most satisfying results. Touching the screen at different areas of the vertical spline with associated rotation create a sensation of a living form that alters shape in an elegant and very poetic way.
Whilst the app provides a wonderful first time experience it unfortunately falls short of continued engagement. Once you have tried it, it is hard to see how you may want to explore it further. I am generally of belief that apps on the iPhone should always try to provide alternative ways of engagement, ie an ability to export, connect and transport generated content by maintaining the original form. Whilst camera.app function creates still images it also offers ability to save these. If the app is an interactive motion piece, it should also provide a way to transport this motion experience to other devices including your computer. Ability to create screenshots of these wonderful interactive motion pieces in PhiLia 01 undermines the engaging experience the app provides. If this is a piece of interactive digital art, surely it should not conclude in the form of a screenshot? I only mention this because there are a number of apps available in the appstore that behave like a link between the iPhone and computer. Using OSC, you can use iPhone’s multitouch and accelerometer capability to interface with custom desktop applications. Whilst most of these apps only provide a link, only synthPond explores this in the form of integrated functionality. PhiLia 01 should provide the same, a transportable interface to further experience beyond the limitations of iPhone/iPod touch hardware. It could morph itself, transport and behave like an interface to desktop app or a projection to be experienced full scale. It could also provide a WiFi link between neighboring devices running the same app that could stimulate real-time interactive collaboration and exchange. PhiLia 01 could be many things but definitely not a screenshot generator.
Create your own personal art by using your fingers (multitouch) to interact with the elements on the screen. Tilt the device to change the direction of movement. Change various parameters that influence theÂ behaviorÂ of the elements by accessing the Menu, which you can open by tapping the lower right corner of the screen. Store your favourite moments of freshly-created absolute beauty and coherence by accessing the Menu choosing to save the image to your Photos.
Am I beig harsh, yes, I am, but only for the single reason the app is so wonderful. Looking at Lia‘s past work you can see the beauty and amazing skill. Like many artists exploring the platform, one has to realise that even though the AppStore is a great platform to distribute digital artworks what unerlines this exchange between the user and the artist is a real opportunity to engage, inspire and motivate. It is more than just porting your creations to the platform but making most of the opportunities the platform offers in ways that can inspire even the mainstream audience.
Created with openFrameworks
Posted on: 02/06/2009