The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt design museum situated in New-York has recently acquired the source code of the Ipad app Planetary.
Code is now art.
Planetary is basically a music visualizer that lets you organize your music library to resemble a galaxy with stars as the artists, planets their various albums and moons as the tracks of the album.
The app’s source code was donated to the Cooper-Hewitt, who in turn made it open-source, in hopes that other people will use its designs for other applications. The source code has also been printed out in machine readable OCR-A font, as it seems preserving something for posterity is done best on paper.
The reason for their choice, according to the Cooper-Hewitt’s site:
“We liken this situation to that of a specimen in a zoo. In fact, given that the Smithsonian also runs the National Zoo, consider Planetary as akin to a panda. Planetary and other software like it are living objects. Their acquisition by the museum, does not and should not seal them in carbonite like Han Solo. Instead, their acquisition simply transfers them to a new home environment where they can be cared for out of the wild, and where their continued genetic preservation requires an active breeding program and community engagement and interest. Open sourcing the code is akin to a panda breeding program. If there is enough interest then we believe that Planetary’s DNA will live on in other skin on other platforms. Of course we will preserve the original, but it will be ‘experienced’ through its offspring.”
This pioneering move by the Cooper-Hewitt seems like an acknowledgement of our modern world, where the underpinnings of our day to day lives live in technology that’s coded to perform certain tasks. Art is, after all, the reflection of life.