In the multifaceted world of iOS apps for iPhone, iPad and the iPod Touch, artists are beginning to carve a niche in the crowded landscape of Apple’s Appstore. One trend amongst software artists is to repurpose work that was originally written for desktop computers into small, compact versions that run smoothly on these mobile devices. Although some of these artist-designed apps utilize the location-aware and networked capabilities that these devices offer, several artists are revisiting the interactive and non-connected aspects of their art. One such piece is “Yellowtail” by Pittsburgh-based media artist, Golan Levin. Reexaming his project “Yellowtail”, originally released in 1998 as part of his “Audio-Visual Suite” of applications for the desktop computer, Levin has recreated the piece specifically for the iPhone. From his description: “Yellowtail repeats a user’s strokes end-over-end, enabling simultaneous specification of a line’s shape and quality of movement. Each line repeats according to its own period, producing an ever-changing and responsive display of lively, worm-like textures.” The experience of using Yellowtail is a fluid reminder of what made software-based art such an immersive experience back in the day. Also revisiting his old screen-based work from the 1990s was Scottt Snibbe‘s who has released several apps for the store that have even made it to Apple’s top download list. Maybe as Golan has said in the past, it’s about time for Apple to introduce an “Art” category to the store. Current artist apps are automatically put into the “Entertainment” category of the store which is true to some degree, but hardly does most of these apps justice as a designation.
At its core, Yellowtail it is an interactive software system for the gestural creation and performance of real-time abstract animation. Using a playful animated transformation of the user’s gesture, the software produces an ever-changing and responsive display of lively, worm-like textures. More general information about Yellowtail is available here, and a whole heap of really technical and historical context is here.
Yellowtail was originally developed as a skunkwork project at Interval Research Corporation (1998) with support from Michael Naimark, and later at the MIT Media Laboratory (1999-2000) with support from John Maeda’s Aesthetics and Computation Group (ACG). The iOS ports were developed in openFrameworks and were created with the assistance of Max Hawkins, Lee Byron, Jonathan Brodsky, and enabling support from the OF iPhone crew (Memo Akten, Zach Gage, Theo Watson, Zachary Lieberman, and many others).
Yellowtail can be experienced (with source code) in this interactive Java applet.
Download Yellowtail (Full-screen PC .exe, 2000)
This is the full-screen, sonified version of Yellowtail, the first instrument in the Audiovisual Environment Suite (AVES). [196k zip file, for Windows2000/XP. Requires 700Mhz+ CPU; an nVidia geForce or other OpenGL graphics card; and a Soundblaster-compatible sound card.]
Platform: iPhone/iPad (Universal)
Developer: Golan Levin
Posted on: 03/01/2011