The “app phenomenon” is an incredible success story. The development of smartphones and the applications designed for them has redefined the future of mobility. Smart devices and applications have now advanced to the status of media, and it is very difficult to imagine everyday life without them any more.
Current estimations say that there are around 3,730,000 apps in the two biggest app stores and circulating in the world of smartphones and tablets. The explosive growth in apps is structured by many categories, such as “games”, “news”, or “sport”. But although the mobile applications have become the symbol of a global, collective creativity, and although many developments excel in interactivity and intermediality, for which art paved the way, no category of “art” exists on the various app-platforms.

To generate and direct attention to artistic productions in the app format, which is entirely appropriate considering their dynamics and distribution, the ZKM | Center for Art and Meda Karlsruhe, the Cyberforum e.V. and their partners organized the first international AppArtAward. With this award, the three partners want to establish apps as a new form of art.

AppArtAward 2016

Connected Art: sacrificium

Artists: Joanna Dauner

Year: 2016 for Android

Sponsored by: CAS Software AG

sacrificium is an interactive installation which takes up the ritual of lighting
votive candles and connects to them with a smartphone or tablet
via an app. Candles or other lights are lit in many religions as act of
offering prayers and as a symbol of contemplation. After the ritual the
lights are left behind as substitutes for the persons who offered them,
symbolizing their entreaties and prayers. sacrificium carries this ritual
into the realm of the digital networks. For many people, taking a conscious
decision not to use their device for a period of time is severely
challenging. With this app, the ritual sacrifice consists in the users not
using the applications on their smartphones for two hours. Instead, one
can light a real votive candle in the chapel of St. James the Great in Fischbachau,


Virtual Reality: Raum

Artist: Sascha Haus & Onat Hekimoglu

Year: 2016 for iOS

Sponsored by: MFG Innovationsagentur Medien- und Kreativwirtschaft

The virtual reality app Raum [space, room] confronts users with critical
thoughts about the limitations and possibilities of simulation in virtual
space. The first sequence takes users – equipped with smartphone and
VR headset – to an office. A desk with a computer and a coffee mug suggests
it is an authentic office environment. An off-screen voice asks the
user to use the keyboard or move the mug – interactions which obviously
don’t work. Eventually, after loud protests by the speaker, the space
opens out. The speaker is silent and the users can control the direction of their flight and encounter the virtual space afresh.

Art+Experience: Mimics

Artist: Thomas Krüger & Fabian Schaub

Year: 2016 for iOS

Sponsored by: SAP

Mimics is a multiplayer game, which is based on the human capability
for subliminal communication via facial gestures. We are experts in recognizing
feelings that are expressed by the slightest changes in facial
muscles and we constantly scan our environment for these changes.
This talent, which every one of us trains our entire lives, constitutes the
central mechanism of Mimics. The app offers a single player or a team a
variety of images of facial expressions to be imitated.

Screenshot App thangs

Sharing: Thangs

Artist: Sammy Schuckert, David Paul, Alexander Müller, Alexander Quednau, Dominik Vincenz, Simon Walter, Samuel Nau

Year: 2016 for iOS and Android

Sponsored by: shareBW

The app thangs provides a platform whereby one can share useful
objects within one’s own network of contacts. The special feature of
this app is that it allows direct access to the users’ phone book. When
friends and acquaintances have also installed thangs, the app displays
their loan requests for lawnmowers, drills, or butterfly nets.

AppArtAward 2015

Prize for Artistic Innovation: EDMT

Artists: Mandy Mozart, Fader, Gabriel Fioretti, Janik Hotz, Ali Chibli

Year: 2015 for Android
Sponsored by: GFT Technologies AG

EDMT, an audiovisual immersive trip app, allows you to “play” with your
phone or tablet to generate mind-expanding graphics, as the artists explained,
and EDM inspired sounds. There are several “scenes” to choose
from where you can explore and discover exciting audio-visual environments.
Unlike traditional instrument concepts, EDMT allows you to interact
with the sound in a dynamic and playful way.

Special Prize for Crowd Art: Radwende

Artists: Michael Volkmer (Scholz & Volkmer)

Year: 2014 for iOS
Sponsored by: CAS Software AG

In an annual survey carried out by the German Cyclist’s Association
(ADFC), Wiesbaden repeatedly turned out to be the unsuitable city for
cyclists. The reason for this is not only the city’s very poor cycling infrastructure,
but also because cyclists lack a lobby. Scholz & Volkmer developed
an app that makes cycling routes visible. They documented the
routes they traveled by bicycle, and generated a city map with the data.
The map – a bold display of bicycle traffic in real time – shows where
bike paths are needed, and can be used as a basis for planning Wiesbaden’s
cycling infrastructure. Thus, Radwende can influence the city’s
traffic design. Parallel to the app, the State Museum in Wiesbaden has
put a drawing machine on show, which also visualizes the routes traveled.
This abstract visualization is a permanent and public reminder of
cyclists, who are often overlooked. The Radwende app combines a citizens’
petition with art and climate protection.

Special Prize for Game Art: Sometimes You Die

Artists: Philipp Stollenmayer

Year: 2014 for iOS
Sponsored by: MFG Innovationsagentur Medien- und Kreativwirtschaft

At first glance, Sometimes You Die seems to be a simple jump-and-run
application. However, instead of a limited number of lives, players have
unlimited lives. Colliding with obstacles or taking the wrong path results
in the death of the character; the gaming piece remains on the spot, and
a new one is created. Some of the obstacles can only be overcome if the
“dead” gaming pieces, which remain lying about, are stacked into steps,
while in the background, a cynical text comments on the action. Death
is accepted, as is the way to continue and progress in the game – only
the goal and exit remain uncertain.

Special Prize for: Borderlands Granular

Artists: Chris Carlson

Year: 2015 for iOS
Sponsored by: ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe

Borderlands Granular is a futuristic musical instrument for exploring
sound with granular synthesis, a technique that involves the superposition
of small fragments of sound, or grains, to create complex, evolving
timbres and textures. The software enables flexible, real-time improvisation
and is designed to support interaction with sonic material. The
user is envisioned as an organizer of sound, simultaneously assuming
the roles of curator, performer, and listener. Gestural interaction and
visual feedback are emphasized over knobs and sliders to encourage
a sculptural and spatial approach to making music.

AppArtAward 2014

Prize for Artistic Innovation: Last Clock

Artists: Jussi Ängeslevä, Philipp Bosch, Ross Cooper, Danqing Shi  (Finland, Berlin, London, Beijing)
Year: 2011 for iOS
Sponsored by:  DPS Engineering

Last Clock is a personal piece of media art that indicates factual time, human time and remote time. Just like any analog clock, Last Clock has three hands: one for seconds, one for minutes and one for hours. As the hands move, a slice of live video is imprinted to the clock face. With different refresh rates for the three hands, the three time circles reflect the rhythms of the space at different temporal resolutions.

Special Prize for Crowd Art: LASACT

Artists: Daniel Becker, Michael König, David Murmann, Alexander Rechberg, Adrian Rennertz (Cologne)
Entstehungsjahr: 2013 Web-application
Sponsored by:  CAS Software AG

LASACT enables users to create an interactive audiovisual light sculpture. This web application controls an RGB laser that can be projected onto surfaces such as building facades. Multiple users can influence the projections and sounds at the same time, creating a collaborative work of art.

Special Prize for Art and Science: Sablo

Artist: Ernst Uys (South Africa)
Year: 2014 for iOS
Supported by: Wissenschaftsjahr 2014 – Die digitale Gesellschaft

This application is based on the Abelian Sandpile model (also known as the Bak-Tang-Wiesenfeld model) in theoretical physics. The model is a cellular automaton that approximates the dynamics of a pile of sand grains on a regular lattice. It is known to exhibit the phenomenon of self-organized criticality: here, a dynamical system shows algebraic long-range correlations. Through this mechanism, Sablo shows how complexity arises in nature.

Special Prize for Sound Art: Geometric Music

Artists: Gaël Bertrand, Gaëtan Libertiaux (Belgium)
Year: 2014 for iOS
Sponsored by: GFT Technologies AG und ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe

This application is an intuitive way to make music with sounds that people record. Geometric shapes represent the recorded sounds. Users can edit the sound by mixing and matching different shapes, adjusting their sizes and positioning them in various places. The application enables the user to create dynamic sound collages.

AppArtAward 2013

Prize for Artistic Innovation: ZYX

Artists: JODI (The Netherlands)
Year: 2012 for iOS
Sponsored by:  CAS Software AG

ZYX is a performative app that guides users to carry out a series of movements, thus exposing them to a dissonant situation that is both virtual and physical: while it looks to outsiders merely as if the users are performing some kind of bizarre dance, the iDevice registers any correctly executed sequence of motions and rewards it with a signal tone.

Special Prize for Crowd Art: Mobile Phone Orchestra

Artist: Andrew Bluff (Australia)
Year: 2012 for iOS
Sponsored and supported by:  GFT Technologies AG und Kulturstiftung der Sparkasse Karlsruhe

With the app Mobile Phone Orchestra, the user takes part in an automatized, collaborative sound experiment that combines the private music libraries of the various users to form a public sound space. Each iDevice becomes an individual “sound producer”, creating unique acoustic art works in combination with other mobile devices.

Special Prize for Augmented Reality: ARART

Artists: Kei Shiratori (Japan), Takeshi Mukai (Japan) und Younghyo Bak (Japan)
Year: 2013 for iOS
Sponsored by:  GRENKELEASING AG und init AG

ARART blurs the boundaries between the real and the virtual world by having the iDevice superimpose a new dimension of reality on real art works. Historical background information is conveyed in a creative manner, enabling the viewer to develop new ways of seeing the original.

AppArtAward 2012

Prize for Artistic Innovation: konsonant

Artist: Jörg Piringer (Austria)
Year: 2012 for iOS
Sponsored by:  CAS Software AG und GFT Technologies AG

The app konsonant is a creative survey of letters, sound, and technology. It contains four different sound games with which it is possible to search the alphabet specifically for consonants. The user may put the letters in movement, make acoustic machines from them, create sound paths, and experiment with short musical artifacts.

Special Prize for Game Art: Globosome FREE

Artist: students of Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg, study focus interactive media
Year: 2012 for iOS
Sponsored by:  Gameforge AG

Globosome FREE deals with balance, responsibility, and dexterity. With an intuitively useable gyro controller, the players can steer a planteating sphere, which has become separated from its swarm and which is now attempting to return to it or to establish its own swarm. If the sphere eats enough, it receives sufficient life energy to reproduce itself through the separation. However, if the sphere lapses into gluttony, the resources become scarce, and the life of the growing swarm is endangered.

Special Prize for Cloud Art: Electric Sheep (Infinite Evolving Live Wallpaper)

Artist: Scott Draves (USA)
Year: 2012 for Android
Sponsored by: Jung von Matt/ Neckar GmbH und BrandMaker GmbH

The Electric Sheep is a form of artificial life, which is to say it is software that recreates the biological phenomena of evolution and reproduction though mathematics. The system is made up of man and machine with 450,000 participant computers and people all over the Internet. This is a distributed system, with all participating computers working together to form a supercomputer that renders
animations, called “sheep“ that everyone sees. The human participants guide the survival of the fittest by voting for their favorite animations in the flock.

AppArtAward 2011

Prize for Technical Innovation: OscilloScoop

Artist: Scott Snibbe (USA) / Lukas Girling (UK)
Year: 2011 for iOS
Sponsored by: MFG Innovationsagentur für IT und Medien

The innovative DJ tool OscilloScoop impressed the jury with its innovative interfaces. By manipulating the spinning crowns the user can effortlessly create their own DJ set. The app was designed by Lukas Girling, a creator of interactive musical interfaces. OscilloScoop was programmed by Scott Snibbe und Graham McDermott.

Prize for Artistic Innovation: field

Artist: Rainer Kohlberger (Austria)
Year: 2011 for iOS
Sponsored by:  BOKELA

The video artist and media designer Rainer Kohlberger was awarded the prize for his audiovisual app Field. In this app, the iPad’s camera reacts to light and colors in its surroundings and translates them aesthetically into sounds and geometric patterns. Kohlberger’s app is indebted formally to Concrete art.

Junior Prize: School Helper

Artist: Mike Wong (Switzerland)
Year: 2011 for Android
Sponsored by:  GFT – inspiring IT

Seventeen year-old Mike Wong from Switzerland won the JUNIOR PRIZE. His app School Helper helps students (and teachers) to keep their school life organized, for example, by inserting personal timetables, calculating average marks in a subject, putting in examination dates or just making notes — all in a clearly arranged form.