PhiLia02 is the latest iPhone application created by the the Austrian visual artist Lia, who has been creating digital art, installations and sound works since 1995. The app has been submitted to the AppStore only few days ago and should be available within a week. The app is now available in the AppStore. We have been sent an ad-hoc version to have a play and once again Lia has created a beautiful piece of digital art, soon available for your enjoyment.
The human and the machine are collaborators in the creation of a unique art experience. You can interact with the elements on screen, but the machine always suggests its own ideas to which you can respond using your intuition.
The app is not too dissimilar from PhiLia 01 in terms of it’s behaviour although results are totally different. Particles are generated from the touch point. They have their own bezier path (affected by accelerometer tilt) which repeats once they hit edges of the screen. Instead of circles as on PhiLia 01, particles are left bare and trails they generate can be switches on or off. In addition, tremble can be applied to add random behaviour to each particle. The colour varies according to the position of particles and they can be set to either follow one direction or both up and down (depending on the device orientation). What makes generation of these particles beautiful are the trails they leave behind. This is further enhanced by being able to set transparency and smoothness producing some truly magnificent particle behaviour (see images below). Animations can be paused by pressing the settings button at the bottom right of the screen where you will find an option to save the image to library. Once you get tapping on the screen to emit particles and tilting your iPhone to control their direction, it doesn’t take long before you realise that it is not you controlling them but the “machine” keeping them in order and manipulating their complex and beautiful behaviour. The end result, as you can see below, are images beyond logic and method, just simply beautiful. See more images on Lia’s flickr.
I am nevertheless still concern about art consumption in the AppStore. The danger, I feel, lurks in digital pieces like these being undervalued. The AppStore has established a system where developers extensively rely on mass sales. Is digital art really worth only $0.99? I would argue no from a standpoint that is worth much more or much less. Yes, there are dangers of awful, mindless and somewhat ridiculous comments in the AppStore when apps are free. Then again, shouldn’t art be allowed to be criticized even by those that don’t understand it. For $0.99 or even $1.99 digital art will only appeal to those who are already aware of (for example) Lia’s work but at the same time I am sure that at least 10% of those would also pay $9.99. On the another hand, why not distribute these in limited editions, say 100 copies that £19.99 value each. Being one of the few to own it, would make it feel even more special. Although AppStore definitely provides opportunities for artists and designers to distribute their creations, I somewhat feel that art is yet to find a place in the AppStore. It is no wonder that there is no category in the AppStore to describe art and Entertainment is the only description that comes close to it. I don’t think this is because Apple does not see art apps that come to the store but rather waiting for us to give it form, a definition and attribute a value.
Posted on: 23/05/2010