I tried to take Will Ashon’s portrait. Somehow things got mixed up and it ended as an iPhone thing. Here’s what we have to say about it…
Shorter is an app for iPhone and iPad featuring a collection of eighty nine very short stories by Will Ashon for very short trips. A random story is chosen for you to read each time the app is opened. Making it an ideal companion for travel (a story between stops) or toilet breaks.
New stories will be automatically added at unexpected moments, magically sent over the airwaves without having to download the app again, with a little red dot marking their arrival.
Will Ashon is the author of two novels “Clear Water” and “Heritage” both published by Faber and Faber. The app comes decorated with a lovely illustration by Timothy Hunt. It costs 69p, less than a penny a tale and will last longer than a Mars Bar, unless you are an exceptional slow eater.
Here’s what other people have said about it…
“…excellent value for money; the stories never disappoint with their surreal take on early 21st-century life” – Nicola Presley, The Literary Platform.
Read the full review
“A dead-on depiction of early 21st Century life that soon gives way to something much wilder and stranger. The best collection of short stories I’ve read in years.” – Matt Thorne (Cherry, 8 Minutes Idle, Prince)
“Funny, smart, playful, twisted and devastatingly precise” – Peter Hobbs (The Short Day Dying, I Could Ride All Day In My Cool Blue Train)
I once did some work for the man who designed Bluewater, which led me to read Clearwater, a book by Will Ashon. I liked it. So I wanted to take his portrait. By some curious twist of fate this translated into “shall we make an iPhone app”.
So we did.
It will be available soon from all good iTunes stores for iPad, iPhones and iThings. It features 89 very short stories by Mr Ashon and because every book needs a cover and because fate has already played a hand, why not, I thought, ask Timothy Hunt better known as Fickle Fate to draw some nice pictures for it. Which he did. Which was nice.
So there you go. My first iPhone app featuring stories from Will Ashon and a drawing by Timothy Hunt. I’ll let you know when you can buy a copy.
Perhaps a celebratory portrait is in order?
Back in the summer of 2005 I proposed the interaction for a collaborative soundwork with Adam Hoyle. Providing the graphics for web based version, but the project fell into the weeds during a hiatus sourcing suitable sounds. Then there was some discussion about changing the sound/image symbiosis from ‘Ring’ to ‘Wave’. I presumed such procrastination from myself meant the project had withered.
But since then Adam decided to re-code it for iPhones and iPads, I got a call last December requesting a design for a simplified interface along with a logo. He also asked the composer Nick Ryan to create the audio for it along the lines of my original intention, something like a Tibetan temple bowl pushed to explore the three extremes of attack, sustain and decay.
Yesterday an email arrived announcing ‘Ring’ is live and for sale at iTunes.
Nice work Adam and Nick, thank you, my first collaboration where I didn’t have to assemble the nuts and bolts.
Screens for the original web based version of Ring
Officially excited by the prospect of Wave coming to the iPhone. Spent the day mentally visualising touch, tap and tipping engagement, and reducing the existing interface to the simplest solution. Without recourse to sliders. After being made to include gratuitous ones in BirdSongFM I now suffer from a churlish refusal to use them even when they would be entirely suited. Plus you can’t really beat pretty coloured circles.
Adam Hoyle my collaborator likes it too, even through the fug of his hangover, so it looks as if it’s a go.
It was with some embarrassment that I noticed the date stamp on the post announcing ‘Ring’ was a year old. Which would explain the somewhat terse tone of voice from my collaborator Adam Hoyle this morning when I mentioned I wanted to change it from Ring to Wave.
In the past year we abandoned premiering it in a gallery space or online show and instead embraced the new platform of the iPhone. Adam coded up a beta and sent me a screenshot of it running. Quite awhile a go.
Irony kicks into play, as I don’t have an iPhone, or even a mobile at the moment due to philosophical constraint, so the ball rebounded to a stop in my court. A poor excuse I know since I’m not coding, but Ring/Wave is back on the hot plate since our BirdSongFM hit the iTunes store. When I proposed the conceptual leap to a wave it was meet with a ring of unenthusiasm; so I have bartered a visit to Adam’s studio next week in exchange for the change in virtual motion.
I am using the wisdom of stating something publicly to avoid backing out – like that worked so well last time I posted about ‘Ring’ – however I’m feeling quiet excitement about seeing this published so expect to ‘Wave’ hello soon. (Sorry).
Apple rejected my generative bird song piece for having minimal user functionality, since after all listening to the birds sing is usually an experience rich in interactivity. Adam after porting it to the iPhone took exception with their reasoning, added three sliders, and represented it.
Apple approved it.
Now the vaguely insulting part is it passed with the sliders not actually doing anything, other than slide that is. Apparently one will change the volume of the next audio stream that’s generated, which is probably really handy if you don’t want to use the volume control on your phone. But the other two, nada.
So it’s been accepted for appearing as if it has rich user functionality, the testing process not actually going as far as seeing whether the sliders do anything. Which is I suppose is a good compromise: it gets published and leaves the application as is should be, continuous never looping bird song, our gift to cubicle workers.
Purchase it from itunes.com/app/birdsongfm for the grand total of 59 pence.
Just remember you can safely ignore the sliders. If we sell a few copies Adam and I will buy a loaf or two and celebrate by feeding the swans.
A ramble. Which is how it all started.
A walk through the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Adam Hoyle coding me a sound engine for a client, having a studio in the garden, these elements all conjoined in my creating Radio Arcadia a couple of years back…
An audio tape of birdsong from the Wiltshire garden of Digital One’s chairman has been used as the test transmission for various digital radio stations since it’s recording in the spring of 1992.
When it was last taken off air three years ago, the broadcaster was surprised to find it had dedicated listeners voicing complaint.
Radio Arcadia is my gift to all office and cubicle workers. Play gently. Escape.
For those of you without speakers it boils down to me tweaking Adam’s audio engine to generate an endless stream of British bird song.
Skip to the summer, news reaches Adam and I that radio birdsong has finally been taken off the air (news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/8076381.stm), Adam asks if I would mind if he, in return, tweaked the code back, and ported it to the iPhone.
Which he does, asks me for a logo, and sends it into Apple for approval. Apple vet every application for inclusion in the iTunes store. We get a reply.
Subject: BirdSongFM 1.0: Application Submission Feedback
We’ve reviewed your application BirdSongFM and we have determined that this application contains minimal user functionality and will not be appropriate for the App Store.
So it appears that if it hasn’t got a slider it’s no good. Dear Mr Mondrian, perhaps if the viewer were given a felt tip…
I particularly like Apple’s next line in the reply, “If you would like to share it with friends and family, we recommend …” Thanks Apple, I’m sure my mother will be very proud of me too.
So it seems that the iPhone is a closed platform. Adam is muttering about adding a tweet intensity control, but I for one think it may have ended for the best since I really hate the icon I drew, and publish it here to chastise myself for so fucking cute. Should have stuck to my guns too and called it Radio Arcadia.
Oh, and I learnt through the power of Google that Iggy sings “radio burning up above” and not radio birdland, although I kind of prefer my misheard version.