Not ones to shy away from digital fun, the Tate Modern art gallery has launched the Magic Tate Ball, a free app for Nokia and iOS that selects art works based on your location and surroundings.

The app uses the movement sensors in your mobile device so that you can shake it like the iconic Magic 8 Ball and takes in information like the time, date and weather in order  to provide an image of a work of art. The concept and content  are supplied by Tate and Thought Den and the app was designed and built by Thought Den, with Mobile Pie.

Thinking of pie, here’s what came up on our first attempt. Spookily the app recognised a certain food obsession.

tateball2 Magic Tate Ball app launched to show you art based on your surroundings

Initially the penny didn’t drop as to why Hogarth would be presented, but the explanation based on it heading toward dinner time meant that there might in fact be beef for dinner. We’re that easily swayed.

It might have been nice to have a couple more lines about the painting and it’s context. Though the Hogarth painting is described as ‘satirical’, it doesn’t really say why. Then again, it could mean a nice trip to the art gallery to find out more.

tateball1 Magic Tate Ball app launched to show you art based on your surroundings

Users can toggle how much information they want to feed into the Magic Tate Ball to influence the outcome. As it works on location, the app also knows how far away from the gallery you are, and as you can see in the image, there are bonus features that are accessible at the gallery.

The Tate already has a couple of really nice apps including Race Against Time, a game where users battle ‘Dr Greyscale’ to save a world in colour and Tate Trumps, which asks the question everyone would in a gallery, “If a work of art came to life, how good would it be in a fight?”

The art world can seem a quiet place where fans and experts take themselves and the works a bit too seriously. It’s great to see life being breathed into the art world via digital means and hopefully these apps will bring new audiences in to the galleries.

Being able to share the images and ideas that come up on the app via social media can only help spread the app and hopefully get friends to come a long if you’re planning a day of culture.

Over all, this is a fun way to pass the time, take a fresh look at old favourites or art that is new to you, and even maybe decide what to have for dinner.

Magic Tate Ball