Apps as art? Björk app added to MoMA permanent collection

Ever thought of the apps sitting on your phone and tablet as artwork? Björk’s iPad app Biophilia — which accompanied the 2011 album of the same name — has become the first app to have the distinction of a place in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. Each album track leads to a stylized interactive game when viewed on the iPad.

“The app reflects the artist’s interest in a collaborative process that here included not only other artists, engineers, and musicians, but also splendid amateurs — the people that download and play the app/album,” said Paola Antonelli, one of MoMA’s Senior Curators, in a statement. Biophilia will be placed in the Architecture and Design Collection.

For those of you who weren’t busy downloading Biophilia in 2011, the app’s mechanics change based on the song you’re currently listening to. The ‘Solstice’ section challenges you with controlling a series of orbiting planets, while the ‘Virus’ part of the app requires you to successfully propagate a virus in order to hear the track in its entirety.

“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,” added Antonelli, praising the work of the ten different designers who collaborated with the Icelandic artist on the app. While video games have featured in MoMA collections before, this is the first downloadable app to earn the distinction.

Musicians have had mixed success with apps that tie into albums. Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP is perhaps one of the best-known examples, and whatever you might think of her music, the app does at least attempt to go beyond the usual mixture of news, photos and videos that many artists fall back on.

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