Autumn 2011

Björk’s slow-drip app

Biophilia

By Björk
Free in the iTunes App Store, with in-app purchases of £1.49

Any new medium attracts the inquisitive mind. If that mind is as idiosyncratic and fertile as Björk’s, then expectations for her Biophilia app (free in the iTunes App Store, with in-app purchases of £1.49) run unrealistically high. I was surprised how formally conventional the app is. This is not to say that it is unattractive either in its visuals or behaviour; the main navigation and the animated scores have their own simple beauty. Yet, as an emotional experience, the whole is less than the sum of its parts.

The conventional marketing strategy of releasing singles before the album doesn’t work here. Björk has the uncanny knack of transporting the listener into her own universe, replete with its own particular logic, language and emotive resonance. The Biophilia app ‘universe’ is being drip-fed to us one song at a time. It is frustrating that each time I open the app I’m confronted by the interactive constellation of songs that are all titled, but mainly dormant – rendering the wonderful swirl and twirl of navigating utterly pointless, as only a few destinations are active, and I’m desperate to ‘travel’ to all of them now. Whatever my reservations, I still want to lose myself in this world because of Björk’s artistry and the undoubted skill of M/M and the various programmers who have created this app.

First published in Eye no. 81 vol. 21 2011


EYE81

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues and single copies of the latest issue.

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