Painting Scroll

Just when you thought every iPhone app developer on the planet was hell-bent on winning the contest to see who can make the stupidest app, along comes a piece of work whose only goal is to show you something beautiful and educate you in the process.

Painting Scroll by Colorme Info Tech is a guided tour of “Along the River During the Qingming Festival”, a 900 year old panoramic painting from China’s Song Dynasty. It comes complete with a relaxing soundtrack of traditional Chinese music and subtitled narration of what the painting depicts as it slowly scrolls from beginning to end. The entire ride lasts about 5 minutes, and during that time you get an interesting glimpse of how Chinese people rolled in the 11th century.

Even though you may have never heard of this painting it’s a pretty big deal in China and, according to the Wikipedia entry, it even has a nickname:

As an artistic creation, the piece has been revered and court artists of subsequent dynasties have made several re-interpretive replicas. The painting is famous because of its geometrically accurate images of boats, bridges, shops, and scenery. Because of its fame, it has been called “China’s Mona Lisa”.

At any given time during the scrolling tour you can tap on the painting and get a closeup view of the scene which is a really nice feature. You can also drag the scroll left and right as a kind of way to rewind or fast-forward, and there’s also a separate “story” screen that discusses the painting’s theme and history, but that’s where the features end which I guess is fine. Maybe it would have been nice to see the Wikipedia entry directly in the app, but when it comes to art history lessons I generally don’t expect much in the features department.

Painting Scroll is a nice app and I think even DaVinci would have to admit that “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” is an impressive piece of artwork. However, given the limited “replay” value of the app, I’m guessing the only people who will want to pony up $2 for it are probably art history nerds, those who are determined to appreciate all things artistic, or those who are actually Chinese and truly understand the significance of China’s Mona Lisa.