Published on February 25th, 2014 | by Marc Calhoun0
I know I don’t usually cover smartphone apps, but I do cover Radiohead: hence let’s talk about Polyfauna.
Polyfauna is Radiohead’s (in conjunction with Stanley Donwood and Universal Everything) first foray into the app world. Basically, the user is dropped into an expansive landscape (complete with 8-bit rain) where are free to wander rather aimlessly. Drawing on the screen creates a spiked-centipede creature or other geometric abstraction. If you follow an on-screen red dot, you’ll end up in a different environment. Each environment plays an extended loop that constitutes some minor portion of “Bloom“. Pretend the liner notes from Kid A came alive, and you’ll have some idea of what you’re in for.
The enjoyment factor: variable (depending on your current conscious state while operating). The execution: perfect (what I would imagine a Radiohead electro-dream world to be). But my favorite part is its purpose: none.
Radiohead has always been good at using their elevated platform as artists to challenge, or at least subvert typical business models, musical expectations, etc. Polyfauna is truly just arty. They could have easily evolved this into a more robust app (like Bjork’s Biophilia) with many more bells and whistle, or things to purchase, or even a simple directive purpose. But they didn’t. They just put it out there, it’s free, it’s goofy and wonderful, and it makes me appreciate them even more.