This Russian app wants to bring you closer to nature through art

2 August 2021

Imagine waking up to a mobile notification that would actually help you reconnect with nature.

It may seem like an oxymoron, but Yūgen App wants users to complete digital tasks in a bid to get closer to the natural world.

Launched by Russian curator Alexander Burenkov for Porto Design Biennial in June 2021, the app talks users through daily activities that range from singing to guided meditation.

Each of the daily tasks is led by one of 33 artists, and many are inspired by instruction-based artworks which were popular in the 1960s.

Highlights include Animal Internet, where users watch webstreams featuring both real life and AI-generated animals to reflect on the role that animals play online. Created by Polish sculptor Agnieszka Kurant, it reflects on how pets on our social media feeds are often seen as abstract concepts, rather than autonomous creatures.

Other artists include Greek painter Angelo Plessas, whose large-scale art installations explore spirituality and technology, and herbal alchemist Dambi Kim, who promotes sensory therapy using tea. All of the creators also join Burenkov for an Instagram Live discussion each week on the meaning and purpose of their task.

“Our relationship with nature is broken. But relationships can change,” says the app’s manifesto. “Yūgen App proposes different modes of thinking and feeling, different arrangements of planetary coexistence, invites us to forge intimate kinships with nonhuman creatures, and forces us to reflect on endangered nature and our relationship with it.”

Yūgen App can now be downloaded for free on the Apple Store and Google Play.

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