In 2011, music wunderkind and all-around artistic muse, Björk, released her eighth studio album Biophilia alongside a downloadable app of the same name that included interactive graphics, animations, and scoring for each of the LP’s ten tracks.
Created in collaboration with interactive artist, Scott Snibbe, the art project complements the scientific term biophilia—the concept that there’s an instinctive biological bond between humans and other living systems.
The Creators Project made a documentary about Snibbe and the app at the time, and now a few years later Biophilia has been officially inducted into MoMA’s collection, marking it as the first downloadable app to appear in the museum.
In a written statement, Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator, Department of Architecture and Design elaborated on the acquisition:
“I started thinking about acquiring Biophilia when it was released, in 2011. At that time, a year after the iPad had been introduced, designers and developers were excitedly experimenting with apps that took advantage of a screen bigger than the iPhone. With Biophilia however, Björk truly innovated the way people experience music by letting them participate in performing and making the music and visuals, rather than just listening passively.”
Biophilia sends users into a multi-sensory cosmos where the ten songs on the album get represented by colorful stars.
Touching each one opens up a specific interactive art piece that adds depth and extra creativity to each track. “Virus,” for example, includes a macro look at digitized cells under attack by a virus. As the song continues, users have the chance to stop the attack, but doing so will pause the song.
Other tracks include animations that represent aspects of the music, such as specific instruments appearing as planets and other graphics.
The museum previously included John Maeda’s 1994 Reactive Books—floppy disks distributed inside physical books—as well as other videogames, but Biophilia is the first smartphone and tablet app to appear in MoMA. Whether this suggests that more apps will start to be collected by major museums is unsure, but if it were up to us, we’d put Radiohead and Universal Everything’s Polyfauna app on deck in the art draft.
And in more Bjork news, check out the first half of a new LP from Death Grips, featuring 8 songs with vocal contributions from the Icelandic icon. In her words [sic]:
i am proud to announce my vocals landed on the new death grips album ! i adore death grips and i am thrilled to be their “found object” ! i have been lucky enough to hang and exchange music loves w/ them and witness them grow !! epic : onwards !!