Created by Joshua Davis, one of the pioneers ofÂ generative art in new media, Reflect is a collection of some of his generative tools now availableÂ for the iPhone. Working with shape and color palettes, the app allows you to create generative artworks and view them in a reflective kaleidoscopic. Choose from six pattern generators and ten color palettes, you can create a number of still images that embrace digital aesthetic Joshua has developed over the years. His recent exploration in kaleidoscopic images is also included in the app adding an additional layer to random generated shapes to create patterns.
In a nutshell, Joshua’s process consists of three parts. The first being a collection of shapes derived from nature or object as the original source which behave like brushes, second is a set of rules that govern how these shapes behave on the screen which Joshua defines step by step and third are the results generated from the combination of the first two elements, shapes and rules. The results are infinite varying every time and it is Joshua’s role as a designer to decide what may be an aesthetically pleasing or worthy of special selection (see embedded QBN Sessions presentation).
Reflect does a great job in describing this process. You are greeted with a selection of six pre-defined collections of objects and are thereafter asked to “draw” them on the screen. They are “randomly” placed using the colour palette you pre-defined. If you are unsatisfied with the results, you can try again using a different palette or a set of strokes. The collection of shapes included are:
Architecture: A random collection of hard edged geometric shapes that overlay one on top of the other
Butterflies: A collection of drawings of butterflies
Coat of Arms: A number of varying medieval logos, ie a coat of arms
Demons: Dragons, snakes
Kimono: Japanese kimono themed flower patterns
Stratoform: Â Circles, crosses and numbers
The question of “ownership” is an interesting one. Even though Joshua suggest this app allows you to “design your own works of art” this is hardly the case. You are set to operate within the limits of predefined objects and generative rules setÂ by Joshua. Whilst the compositions are a result of your individual strokes, the outcome is generally very similar, ie a forced aesthetic by Mr. Davis. This makes me wonder whether Reflect is a shameless self promotion or what Joshua indirectly suggests a democratic generative tool. I would argue the first considering the limitations the app provides. If Joshua considered ability to set, draw and derive your own shapes, alter or modify the rules, Reflect would be considered more as a tool rather than just a showcase. I can’t help but feel slightly disappointed, considering that every image I create may be unique but is clearly branded by Joshua Davis. What is certain is that Reflect creates some truly wonderful Joshua Davis themed iPhone backgrounds with ease but the lack of features may deter artists themselves but at the same time attract (possibly) design-savy audience who enjoy designer wallpapers (see also Poolga). Nevertheless, it ‘s always great to see artists explore the platform but whether the approach is right is open for debate.
Developer: Sideways Mobile