Art & Design Magazine

Biophilia:Where Nature Meets Music

By Utpalpande @utpalpande

Biophilia is an extraordinary and innovative multimedia exploration of music, nature and technology by the musician Björk. Comprising a suite of original music and interactive, educational artworks and musical artifacts, Biophilia is released as ten in-app experiences that are accessed as you fly through a three-dimensional galaxy that accompanies the album’s theme song Cosmogony. All of the album’s songs gradually become available inside Biophilia as interactive experiences, currently including the first three singles Crystalline, Virus, and Moon.

Biophilia:Where Nature Meets Music

Biophilia for iPad includes around ten separate apps, all housed within one “mother” app. Each of the smaller apps relates to a different track from the album, allowing people to explore and interact with the song’s themes or even make a completely new version of them. It will also be an evolving entity that will grow as and when the album’s release schedule dictates, with new elements added.Every app includes a game related to the song, thescore of the song, animations and a musical essay written by Nikki Dibben. Scott Snibbe, an interactive artist who was commissioned by Björk back in the summer of 2010 to produce the app, as well as the images for the live shows (which will combine his visuals with National Geographic imagery, mixed live from iPads on the stage), describes how Björk saw the possibilities of using apps, not as separate to the music, but as a vital component of the whole project.While it is technically not the first app-album (the first is Bluebrain’s ‘The National Mall’, a location-aware album that is available in no other form and was composed specifically for the iPhone) it is Björk’s first venture into experimenting with apps. “Special” instruments were created for the album. The Tesla coil is used as a musical instrument on the song “Thunderbolt”.

Biophilia:Where Nature Meets Music

For one song, “Virus”, the app will feature a close-up study of cells being attacked by a virus to represent what Snibbe calls: “A kind of a love story between a virus and a cell.And of course the virus loves the cell so much that it destroys it.” The interactive game challenges the user to halt the attack of the virus, although the result is that the song will stop if the player succeeds. In order to hear the rest of the song, the players will have to let the virus take its course. Using some artistic license, the cells will also mouth along to the chorus. It’s this determination to fuse different elements together, be it juxtaposing a female choir from Greenland with the bleeps and glitches of electronic music pioneers Matmos during theVespertine tour, or meshing soaring strings and jagged beats on Homogenic, that “helps explain the power and success of Björk’s collaborations”.

Biophilia:Where Nature Meets Music

Björk has collaborated with artists, designers, scientists, instrument makers, writers and software developers to create an extraordinary multimedia exploration of the universe and its physical forces, processes and structures — of which music is a part. Each in-app experience is inspired by and explores the relationships between musical structures and natural phenomena, from the atomic to the cosmic. You can use Biophilia to make and learn about music, to find out about natural phenomena, or to just enjoy Björk’s music

Biophilia:Where Nature Meets Music

Biophilia opens into a three-dimensional galaxy with a compass allowing navigation between the 3-dimensional universe and a two-dimensional track list. Take a closer look by tapping on stars within the constellations and you’ll see that each is an in-app purchase that gives access to the inspired combination of artifacts for each new Björk song: interactive art and games, music notation which can be used to sing along karaoke-style, abstract animations, lyrics, and essays that explore Björk’s inspirations for the track. These artifacts bring together conventional and alternative ways of representing and making music to create an environment for entertainment and learning. Biophilia challenges the way we think about music. Here, for the first time, is a music album that exploits the multimedia capabilities of mobile interactive technologies.

Biophilia:Where Nature Meets Music

For more information, you can visit Björk’s website here: http://bjork.com


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