Developer: Yves Schmid Dornbierer
Price: $1.99 Download on the App Store
It's hard to categorize CosmicPainter, unless you're familiar with the world of VJing. That's a special place where it's deemed important to be able to create patterned artwork in motion, because sometimes you just need peoples' eyeballs glued to a screen displaying no representative visual content.
Just as music can simply be sound with no meaning, images can just be images. Keep those images in one spot, and you've got abstract art. Set them in motion, and you've got Cosmic Painter. This app may be what Timothy Leary was raving on about when he said computer graphics would be the next LSD.
CosmicPainter supplies motion to the canvas as you "paint" using a variety of tools, creating real-time (and very cool) animations. With a comparatively simple palette of painting tools, you create patterns against the moving background, producing ever-changing eye-candy effortlessly and intuitively. It's painting for someone who doesn't want to paint anything in particular. You're just choosing whatever aesthetic effect you think will please your eye at the moment.
In a word, CosmicPainter is Art with a capital "A": inherently meaningless, useless, and endlessly pleasing.
The app produces a trance-like addictive reaction for the user. CosmicPainter grips onto the artistic right-brain functions, shuts down your brain's executive functions, and delivers iPhone meditation through artistic immersion. For those who've played with the Mac version, you'll find a redesigned interface, but the same mind-numbing mu experience.
All modern-art and Buddhist references aside, remember being a kid and playing for hours with a Spirograph? Think of that. CosmicPainter will be perfect for your daughter in grade school or your son at RISD - or for you, when that last meeting has just burned out all your higher functions and you need your brain to follow your eyes, without that nasty and inconvenient sexual harassment grievance.
I have not yet figured out how to export video from the iPad incarnation of CosmicPainter, so you can put your creativity to work as you can with iVJ. But, I don't mind because CosmicPainter does not seem like an app that should be judged by productivity so much as entertainment.
Watch the video below for a demo of what can be done with multi-touch in Cosmic Painter.
CosmicPainter is inexplicably cool, despite this reviewer's efforts at explication. Spend the two bucks, and be the app. Ommmmmmm.