The View From Rihanna’s ANTIdiaRy Bedroom

Artist Apps and the Future of Interactive Fandom

By Hazel Cills

Anybody who was eagerly awaiting ANTI is no doubt familiar with Rihanna’s Samsung app ANTIdiaRy. The app, accessible on one’s phone via a website, was a series of panoramic, virtual reality videos that guided users through eight different bedrooms. Arty and mysterious, the app was interesting to watch and overanalyze but ultimately didn’t offer a window into Rihanna’s soul (who wouldn’t pay $2.99 for that app?). In the end, ANTIdiaRy was a winding promotional hedge maze where the most distinct message was “buy Samsung devices!”

Musician-specific apps, made in conjunction with a brand or just self-released, have popped up over the past few years in different forms, whether they’re games, virtual-reality music videos, or just the digital equivalent of a CD booklet. The most celebrated example of this is Björk’s 2011 Biophilia app, now part of the MoMA collection. A visual constellation of the album’s song titles will lead you to a different game depending on what song you choose. Some are more traditional games, like “Crystalline,” in which you travel through a maze of tunnels collecting crystals as the song plays. Others allow you to make music; on the “Thunderbolt” setting, you compose a track using lightning bolts. On one level, the app functions as a way to listen to the album in full alongside stunning, responsive graphics. The app is a curious collection of cool musical games, and is not just successful in how it manages to be an aesthetic extension of Björk — it’s something you’d play regardless of her involvement.

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