Interactive Archive

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    Y’know that dream of leaving London, forming a commune and living off the land? Well, creative studio Featuring Featuring has got it together and is doing just that. Designers on Holiday is an application-based escape, an opportunity to join a bunch of international designers working together to build a campsite that, once complete, will be run as a co-operative.

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    All over the world funny and loving music nerds who appreciate whale song, birds tweeting, technology and pizza are crying “Yay! Panda Bear!” The American musician who is currently residing in Portugal has just launched a brand new website, featuring an animated interactive slideshow to accompany the fizzing echoes of the music he makes. Just one tap on your computer keyboard and you can fly through strange, sometimes seizure-inducing audio and visual clips put together by Patakk, Marco Papiro and Danny Perez, with a little help from Seen Studio. Not totally unlike the freaky tunnel boat scene in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, this cunning album promo is a perfect accompaniment to Panda Bear’s well-known and much-loved sound and vibe. You can read a really great interview with Noah Lennox himself over here on Pitchfork.

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    “Give me more digital gifts!” I always exclaim at Christmas. “Pack my stocking full of new and inventive coding experiments with a festive twist!” This year Ronai David, Damien Mortini and Aurelien Gantier heard my cry and put together Christmas Experiments, a digital advent calendar that reveals a new web-based treat every day throughout December. Each one is the product of a different developer and offers a unique take on Yuletide cheer. In one you’re invited to navigate a wayward orphan through a dormitory, avoiding the flash of fairy lights as you go. In another you’re Santa, tasked with navigating a gang of feckless elves through a complex floating maze where danger lurks around each corner.

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    In April this year UsTwo ruined a gig I was at by letting me trial a new game due to be released the following week. I was supposed to be seeing one of my favourite bands but instead spent two hours tapping away trying to navigate a little princess through a geometrically impossible world. A couple of weeks later everyone was obsessing over that same princess.

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    Berlin-based design studio Edenspiekermann has just completed work on an impressive new digital publishing platform called Blloon that offers a subscription service for eBooks in a similar format to Spotify’s music service. The studio was given complete creative freedom to produce the UX and UI of the product as well as the branding itself, giving a beautifully coherent feel to the final result.

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    Full disclosure before I say anything about this new app: I’m terrible – TERRIBLE – at managing my personal finances. Wages come in at the start of the month, I pay my rent, bills and council tax and then I try not to look at my bank account until the next pay day. Sometimes there’s a couple of quid left, mostly I’ve plundered the depths of my overdraft. So I had a look at Pennies with a great deal of skepticism; it’s going to take more than an app to sort my money out.

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    The simplest ideas can often be the most powerful, and that’s certainly the case with Eight Inc.’s new work for Cancer Research UK. Tomorrowww is a browser plug-in that removes the word cancer from your online experience, a practical yet potent way of visualising a future when the battle against the disease has been won.

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    See Nothing can only really be described as a kind of digital zine, a curation of graphic design experiments, visual puzzles and interactive mind-games for iPad and iPhone which touch on the theme of non-visibility and seeing nothing. The app, created by the Italian graphic design studio Jekyll & Hyde, brings together the work of around 20 different graphic designers and illustrators, whose work for issue 3 of See Nothing centre around the idea of what we see, how we see it, and most importantly what we don’t see. Faceless figures, images that contort with a swipe of your finger, and hypnotic moving pictures are in abundance: this is an app where things are never what they seem.

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    There was a great deal of coverage of the 9/11 Memorial Museum when it opened last week, and on the whole the arts and design press focussed on the architectural angle. But museums are (or should be) much more than buildings; and Brooklyn-based interactive design studio Local Projects was tasked with bringing this complex and controversial chapter in contemporary history to life.

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    Interstate US Studio Public Library have just finished work on an app that we’re very excited about indeed. 5 Every Day is a web and mobile platform that presents a curated selection of five daily events, exhibitions, activities and venues to explore in Los Angeles. All the research is done by the band YACHT, so you know their recommendations will be fun. Each list only lasts for 24 hours and then is completely refreshed, meaning every selection is unique and you won’t ever repeat your day’s activities.

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    For most of us the world of coding seems wholly impenetrable. We know how to navigate the internet and any number of applications but haven’t the slightest clue how they’re all built. In fact the very notion of building anything digitally seems frankly terrifying. But we’ve got news for you, it doesn’t need to be like that – digital technology is here to stay and it’s probably about time you got to know your front end from your back, your UI from your UX and your HTML5 from your CSS3.

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    If I’m honest I don’t give two hoots about the gaming industry in general. When I was a kid I lost two years to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on the N64, and I still have dreams about playing it; the characters I met in Hyrule, the tragic death of all the Zoran people and the battles I fought repeatedly until every one of the kingdom’s races were freed from Gannon’s wrath. My sense of nostalgia for that time is palpable. But then I found that no other game offered me the same escapism and abandoned the whole experience for good.

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    It’s a challenge creative agents are very familiar with; how do you best showcase an eclectic roster of talent in way that celebrates the particular abilities of each while maintaining some measure of coherence across the agency as a whole? Well London-based Visual Artists has given a masterclass in doing just that by way of their brilliant new site designed by Yes Studio. The use of imagery – both still and moving – creates a vibrant, dynamic and enjoyable user experience, the perfect platform to shout about the skills of VA’s portfolio of creative excellence. I really like the pithy communication as well; short sharp bursts of information rather than self-indulgent artists’s statements are the order of the day and keep the overall look and feel very visually-led. Top work all round.

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    If – as the saying goes – simplicity is genius, then the gang over at WeTransfer are probably in line for some sort of grant. You’d think as the main partners for our summer symposium Here, they’d be pretty busy psyching themselves up for a day of creative insight and inspiration, but they’ve found time to create an app for their hugely popular file sharing service.

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    Christmas is a time when us Brits break with tradition and make ham-fisted attempts to interact with our neighbours, leading to awkward evenings of cheap mulled wine and excruciating small talk. Luckily for us, one of our east London neighbours is ustwo, the digital design agency who combine high-tech brilliance with a wicked sense of mischief. The latest offering from their app game team (the same chaps who brought us the amazingly addictive Whale Trail) is Monument Valley, a stunning Escher-inspired game where you lead a princess through a beautifully-realised world of hidden paths and secret staircases. The teaser trailer and accompanying imagery are enough to whet our appetites and have us wishing away the festive period so we get closer to next year’s release date.

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    Interactive artist and conceptual maverick Rajeev Basu’s been involved in some unusual projects in the past, from illustrated commercial drones to a Facebook hack that turns your personal page into a mighty hawk. His latest offering is as tedious as it gets though, an anti-epic piece of computer-generated purgatory that sees you stuck in an endless queue with nothing but your own will to keep you going. Like Doom and its many derivatives you can jump and strafe to avoid your foes, but this time your foes really couldn’t give less of a toss about you and the only weapon you have to stave off trouble is your own fist… which you have to use to punch ourself in the face…repeatedly. Good old-fashioned fun to get you going on a Monday morning!

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    Designer and art director David Rinman is still just a kid, but at 22 he’s already produced more cool stuff than most of us could shake a stick at without getting really, really tired arms. The Swedish creative has just graduated from Forsberg’s School of Design & Advertising and moved straight into a job with 25ah, an agency specialising in branding and commercial strategy.

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    New apps, new updates, new tech discoveries, none of those are really that exciting are they? They’re just things that happen in our modern lives that we have to get on with. That’s why when someone makes a really good promo with a beardy man in it for a really cool app that actually could make our lives easier, it sticks out as something we genuinely want to get involved in. In this case it’s an app that lets you unlock your computer just by knocking on your phone in your pocket. Imagine your phone is a tiny door of a party you’ve just arrived at. Imagine your phone is a trunk with a crocodile inside. Imagine your phone is the door to a teenager’s bedroom. You knock to unlock. Easy!

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    Everyone’s always like, “Oh my god I would LOVE to run with the bulls in Spain!” when harping on about their bottomless bucket list. Really? Would you? After checking out this truly impressive interactive bull run that Volvo have set up, I think you’ll find yourself drawing a line through that dream and setting off to buy some new underwear. The idea behind the latest Volvo campaign is simple: attach cameras to the truck, the driver, the runners and the helicopter and hey presto! A bull run without bloodshed or underwear soiling, straight from the comfort of your own chair. How’s that for progress?

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    It’s always interesting to see online editorial platforms trying new and interesting ways of presenting their content to make full use of the digital experience, and we’ve written before about Pitchfork’s particular penchant for impressive visual journeys. In a slightly different media space, The New York Times is also keenly exploring different ways of bringing articles to life in the multimedia age, with their Snow-fall piece on the Tunnel Creek avalanche often cited as one of the best examples.

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    In 100 years, people studying our society are likely to be baffled by certain things. Combing through our cultural debris, historians and archaeologists will have to try and piece together what twerking was, or what a Jedward was used for. Chief among those cultural obsessions likely to stump them will be the apparent worship of a tiny Italian plumber, which will make no sense to anyone. Still in for a penny in for a pound we say and so perk up your Monday morning no end by spending some time at the Museum of Mario.

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    There’s disappointingly few great interactive websites out on the world wide web, fewer still that communicate something truly meaningful, so it’s an extraordinary pleasure to write about one that does both. Digesting Science is an interactive site created by the Centre for Neuroscience and Trauma at Barts Hospital, London that’s designed to explain MS to children with parents that suffer from the condition. It discusses, with a refreshingly un-patronising tone, the causes and effects of the disease as well as the possible treatments.

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    This latest collaboration between the London Symphony Orchestra and interactive design studio Sennep has been specifically directed towards schools and students as an educational tool to teach kids about the make-up of a classical orchestra. Which I guess means we’re just a bunch of big kids over here as we’ve spent a fair bit of time playing with it and getting to know the orchestra that little bit better.

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    What do Whale Trail (a game where you pilot a grinning whale through the clouds), Rando (an app that lets you anonymously share photos around the world) and the new Hudl tablet from Tesco have in common? Very little to the untrained eye, but each is the product of digital design agency ustwo™. We loved Whale Trail, it cost us a lot of precious hours in the studio, and we thoroughly enjoy using Rando, which leads us to believe that the Hudl is going to be right up our street too, even if we’re still struggling to get our heads round the concept of a Tesco tablet.

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    Digital art aficionados will be descending on Spitalfields Market in London next week for a celebration of terrific technology-driven creativity. Following a successful launch in New York earlier this summer, the Experience Intel tour hits these shores and they are working with top amazing digital practitioners to show off their talents using the brand’s wares.

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    Today’s music video is a little later in the day than usual – so that we can bring you an exclusive first look at a brilliant new video from Moniker. Somewhere between music video and video game, Do Not Touch invites the viewer to use their mouse pointer to complete various tasks, from staying in a certain area of the screen, to avoiding a naked model and being the opponent for a scantily clad boxer. Beautifully simple and super effective as we’ve come to expect from Moniker – and I’m sure Dutch band Light Light are suitably thrilled. Get touching.

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    Rafaël Rozendaal hasn’t updated his portfolio of interactive web artworks for a while now, presumably because he’s been too busy coding, creating, opining at conferences and generally shaping the future of the internet. No big deal. But true to form he’s recently returned with a new site that allows you to play God with the weather. lets you adjust the power of rain, the chatter of birdsong and the clapping of thunder with the simplest of flicks of your cursor, transforming a perfectly pleasant day into a torrential downpour in the blink of an eye. Once again Rafaël provokes us to question our relationship with the web and, as ever, we can have terrific fun as we do it. We’re thrilled to have Rafaël talking about his work at Here 2013, our creative symposium.

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    How much YouTube do you think you watched this year? A lot probably — over four billion hours of video are watched each month according to these alarming YouTube stats which we have no reason to doubt. About time then for a bit of fun to be made out of the format we now know probably better than our loved ones’ faces, so join Publicis Groupe in this utterly genius hack of one of the most well-known sites on the internet (big shout) by altering the volume, quality, screen size and play button to your heart’s content — you won’t be disappointed, just don’t make Maurice angry. Get going here.

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    There’s nothing I like better than a good old swing session, and now there’s a perfect excuse to slap on a smile and shoot through the air in innocent ecstasy! This kind of wild excitement derived from such a simple pleasure is something often lost on adults as they grow up to experience the more ‘serious’ pleasures dirty minds may have thought I was alluding to, but Ann Hamilton’s The Event of a Thread installation, currently on display in New York poses a serious question; who says swings are just for kids?

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    We all love a bit of colour in our lives, right? It’s the spice that can turn the drabbest of life experience into a wealth of vivid wonder, taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary. Carlos Cruz-Diez has been exploring the kinetic movement of colour in his celebrated works, creating interactive manufactured chambers that lures visitors to rethink their perceptions of colour in their everyday lives.

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    We’ve seen some fantastic installation art recently, ranging from the Interactive Thunderstorm in Philadelphia, to The Rain Room in London. And now – joy of joys – we’re reflecting on more amazing installation art for y’all to dive into. This time we’re in the Bockenhelmer Depot, in Frankfurt, Germany. Ready? Right, let’s GO!

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    Most of us have been in a band at some stage, whether it was to attract girls or to just basically be as much like Neil Young as possible. The thing is, learning an instrument is hard and expensive. Like most great internet apps, Jam with Chrome is taking an age-old tradition and making it do-able from the comfort of your chair. You may not generally agree with this sort of thing distracting young people from actually picking up an instrument but you know what? This is hilarious.

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    There are some that cower under their bedsheets the moment a flash of lighting is perceived. Then there are those (my imagination relies on this being true, so please leave it untarnished by “facts” who grasp the nettle bare-handed, heading out into electrical storms fully dressed in medieval battle attire, heroically bidding to investigate a fascination with nature’s great electric zapper first hand. Had they been aware of Patrick Gallagher and Chris Klapper’s interactive thunderstorm project – Symphony in D Minor, perhaps we could have saved them some trouble.

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    There are plenty of beautiful urban regeneration projects around the world that achieve their aims just splendidly (for example, my attempt to regenerate a very drab looking concrete back-yard by adding a pot plant). But let’s pull focus on scale because every now and then we come across a project that stands alone with its awe-inspiring ability to evoke emotional responses within us; it will amaze, excite and stun us with its vision and ambition.

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    Of all the creative disciplines we write about, site specific installation art is by far the most tricky. So much depends on being there, on seeing, smelling, touching even sometimes tasting the piece that online coverage can feel a bit fruitless. Huge kudos then to the Rice Gallery in Texas – which always gives over its space to artists for one-off installation pieces (like this) – for launching a new iPad app documenting the work they’ve hosted over since 1995.

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    Sitting in London, our thoughts are with all those suffering the devastating effects of Storm Sandy in the US and elsewhere. For those anxious to track its chaos, this fascinating live data visualisation created by Fernanda Vegas and Martin Wattenberg on HINT.FM represents the destructive force of nature in all its complexity. The Wind Map was created as a “living portrait of the wind currents over the U.S,” which artfully reflects the weather patterns and their emotional impact on our lives.

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    Do big art institutions represent the here and now? Amber van den Eeden and Kalle Mattson didn’t think one of Amsterdam’s most famous institutions did: “The Stedelijk forgot the internet,” they say, “it overlooked the abundance of young and promising artists that the city itself has to offer. It’s as simple as that.”

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    New Yorkers have been battening down the hatches in preparation for the imminent arrival of Hurricane Sandy but we hope that it didn’t stop at least a few of them from enjoying this charming project over the weekend.

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    It’s not often that we celebrate truly innovative web design. Rightly or wrongly (probably wrongly) the craft and functionality of the myriad websites we traverse each day goes largely unacknowledged. But that’s not to say there aren’t some magnificent pieces of online creativity out there, it’s just nobody’s thought to bring them together, to be explored in one place. Until now that is…

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    One of my favourite definitions of design came from our 2011 London Design Festival interview with Wayne Hemingway who described it as being: “just about coming with ideas that make life a little bit more enjoyable, palatable or profitable.”