A city’s skyline is like its fingerprint–a composition of architectural silhouettes that’s unique for any given place. Artist Yoni Alter has used the urban fabric of places like London, New York, Tel Aviv, and Melbourne as fodder for gorgeous, prismatic prints and now he’s parlayed those graphics into a memory game in the Shapes of Cities game for iPhones and iPads.
Alter’s posters feature monotone architectural landmarks–the greatest hits from a city–layered on top of one another in a way that preserves their relative scale. In a print of San Francisco, the Transamerica Pyramid–William Perreira’s 853-foot-tall post-modern masterpiece–towers over the Golden Gate Bridge, which stands at 746 feet and dwarfs Coit Tower at 210 feet. In the game, players see an image of structures at their relative scale, and are prompted to take a mental picture. After tapping the image, the buildings’ heights change and draggable dots appear above each one. You then adjust the heights and try to get as close to the original graphic as possible. As you drag each dot, the respective building’s name appears.
For people familiar with a skyline, the task should be a breeze. For Brooklyn, where I live, I scored 96/100. For Memphis, where I’ve never traveled, I got 90/100, and I earned an embarrassing 42/100 for Istanbul. Pro tip: taking stock of the shape of each building is important–there are about six or seven in each image–but noting the color is key for cities whose skylines are less diverse than others. Try it yourself by downloading the free Shapes of Cities app from iTunes.