Using light and long exposure photography to draw without a canvas is a technique that dates back to the late 19th century. But it wasn't until the mid-1940s, when Pablo Picasso began painting the air, that it grew into something more. A company called Adtile has taken a new approach to the art form, introducing a mobile app that can translate sweeping hand movements into a 3D model without the use of cameras or an external source of light.
The Air Pencil app uses the "micro-electro-mechanical systems" found in every smartphone (accelerometer, magnetometer, and gyroscope), along with Adtile's software to "reliably infer the precise movements of the user based on sensor data," according to the company's site. Once the web app has launched, the user simply places his or her finger anywhere on the screen to begin recording, then moves the device in any direction to "draw." Controls within the app that allow the artist to move around and through the 3D sculpture before sharing the file to social media, or directly to contacts stored in the device.
The CEO and founder of Adtile, Nils Forsblom, writes on the company's blog that the brand's efforts draw inspiration from "Picasso, [Alexander] Calder, James Turrell, Mark Rothko, Anish Kapoor, Andy Warhol, Julian Schnabel, and more," adding, "When you get down to it, art is about taking something technologically and emotionally complex and turning it into something simple, functional, and beautiful."