Here’s the bottom line. If you need a bottom line, you probably won’t be interested in Bloom HD because it does absolutely nothing but make pretty sounds and glowing, growing dots. That’s right, you don’t even get to kill things and earn points and fake digital trophies telling you how good you are.
- Is the perfect Monday morning app
- Brings out your inner artists even if you don’t have one
- Entertains cats and the people who rescue them
The only downside is that some jerk will look over your shoulder while you’re enjoying the moment and say, “My three-year-old can do that.”
In addition, I discuss the merits of the claim “my three-year-old can do that,” react with comments that become increasingly snarky as the blog progresses and finish that criticism with a flourish in both conclusion and final footnote. I also drag in minimalism and Dada with a passing reference to the Impressionist movement, discuss the advances of brain-wave based relaxation therapies and make a cheap joke about the fragile nature of Zen gardens.
Minimalism for the iPad
There is nothing more appropriate for the iPad than an application which generates minimalist music and art, and which is, in turn, itself essentially minimalist. Just about the only way Bloom HD could be more minimalist would be for it to do nothing.
Readers who like to see themselves at the cutting edge will no doubt interject at this point that nothing isn’t minimalist, it’s Dada.
Nay, dear readers, Dada isn’t about nothing. Dada art had plenty of content, that content was simply considered to be meaningless. There is a difference between meaningless and nothing. Minimalism aspires to nothing, but only aspires. If it actually produced nothing it would be boring, which many people think of when they encounter minimalist art anyway.
For those readers who are ready to tune out now because they think a discussion of minimalism is as boring as minimalism itself, please feel free. You probably won’t appreciate Bloom HD. You may even think it’s dumb.
Or you might spend a moment or two staring at Bloom HD and listening to the self-generating music and say to the person showing it to you, “My three-year-old can do that.”
The only answer I could give you would be this: Turn her lose. If your three-year-old can develop an app that Apple will pick as their app of the week then you should put her to work on it. Don’t let her play in the yard or turn on the TV until she’s finished. She’ll be world famous. You’ll be almost as famous. And you’ll have fifteen years before she embarrasses you before the world by crashing her car into a judge, having to wear an ankle bracelet and posting naked pictures of herself all over the web. Fortunately, by then you’ll be one of those jaded parents who doesn’t care because you’ll be featured in the gossip columns too.
You won’t have to spend thousands of dollars helping her pursue her fine arts education or whining and wondering when she’ll give up on this stupid art career and get a real job. A job that comes without a boyfriend with huge brass circles in his ear lobes, Grateful Dead tattoos and a t-shirt that says, “Don’t blame my girlfriend; blame her parents.” She’ll be able to retire on the money she made writing an iPad app when she was three-years-old.
The truth is that Philip Glass couldn’t compose Einstein on the Beach when he was three and his parents were probably grateful. And Brian Eno, Bloom HD’s co-creator had to endure years of playing second fiddle to Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music before people took his minimalist work seriously.1
To those of us who don’t consider the musical highlights of the Eighties to be AC/DC or Barry Manilow, Brian Eno was the, no, the vanguard of utterly cool music. Sure, we gladly ponied up our cash to see David Byrne, Laurie Anderson and Peter Gabriel but Brian Eno drifted in the stratosphere above their lofty heads as the ultimate musical visionary. Whether he buzzed the strings of his five string snake guitar in Another Green World or chilled the most minimalist sounds with Music for Airports, Brian Eno made the Avant-Garde seem reactionary.
I don’t know anything about Peter Chilvers, the app’s other co-creator, other than what I looked up on the web. (He’s a musician.) You can’t even buy his music on iTunes, which isn’t very gracious of Apple considering how he gave them an App of the Week.
The perfect Monday morning app
Bloom HD engages your brain at a very basic and functional level, a level at which you aren’t even aware your brain is functioning at all.2 This can be very useful on Monday mornings when your brain is, most likely, barely functioning at all. We look forward to TGIF but this is GDIM and TGIF is five long days away.
Launch Bloom HD and set it to “Listen” mode and stare at the mesmerizing screen until the brain barnacles (the ones that always seem to attach themselves on Sunday night) melt away. You might even be inspired to surf the web for the morning news. You might even find the energy to work.
In “Listen” mode, Bloom HD creates spontaneous but blissful musical creations. They aren’t sophisticated or deep, they’re more like the music on NPR’s Hearts of Space. The music builds in single notes or scales and generates accompanying paint blossoms on the iPad screen.
Bloom HD combines minimalist music with spontaneous art
The best part is you can slide it into your desk drawer when the boss comes in. Or better yet, leave it right out in the open. If your boss demands an explanation tell him it’s a device to enhance brain states.
Seriously. When I took psych classes in college they used to take us to the counseling center where they lined us onto the floor (carpeted floor) and put headphones on us and made us listen to brain wave altering sounds. They could boost your beta waves to improve thinking, or reduce stress by boosting alpha waves. Those machines cost thousands of dollars.
Bloom HD costs a couple of dollars (plus the cost of your iPad). It’s like a zen garden without the rakes, rocks or sand for the klutzy guy from the mailroom to knock off your desk every other week.
Tell your boss you’re personally investing in your career and saving the company thousands of dollars they might otherwise have to spend enrolling you in Employee Assistance Programs.
Once you convince your boss that your iPad is a valuable job asset, you can reduce stress even more by playing Pocket God or Plants vs Zombies.
Explore your inner creativity
even if you have none whatsoever
Bloom HD also doubles as an art program. You can make your own multimedia compositions with virtually no talent whatsoever.
The genius of this program is that if you still insist on being an anti-art snob, you can sound conceited instead of ignorant. You no longer have to sneer and say “my three-year-old can do that.” Now you can throw your chest out, flare your nose, raise one eyebrow and say, “I can do that.”
Just hope no one else in the room has an iPad with Bloom HD installed.
When you launch Bloom HD, simply choose “Create” instead of “Listen.” This will put you in control of your Bloom HD interface.
Tap once on the screen. A small dot will appear, and then bloom–radiating out to the edges of the screen. Tap a few more times. More dots will bloom. Tap in different locations on the screen. Tap slowly or quickly. Drum your fingertips. Dots will follow your fingertips in time, and occasionally mirror the notes or even let them ripple like wind chimes.
Dots bloom from your fingertips and spread across the screen.
As you develop in experience and skill (in other words, grow into a techonerd) you can click the arrows at the bottom corner of the screen and configure the device’s many custom settings.
Bloom HD offers an amazing number of custom settings and controls.
Trust me, no three-year-old can do that. And this is where real artistic skill comes in. With enough practice and play, you will become sophisticated enough to actually make Bloom HD perform in a variety of ways.
You can bring Bloom HD to an explosive climax with practice.
If after hours of study and practice, you still can’t tell the difference between any of the settings (or, which is more likely, after you get bored fiddling with it) then you will be able to march into the art museum and accept the awesome truth. Your three-year-old won’t be able to make art like that until she’s matured into an artist with years of experience.
Or you will finally realize you’re just being a moron, which the other viewers probably knew the first time you told them about your uber-talented three-year-old.
Jenny loves playing with Bloom HD. She bats at the screen (ours is protected with a plastic shield) and it makes little blooms and sounds. She has no idea that I just set Bloom HD to “listen” mode because the screen doesn’t really sense cats’ paws that well.
It doesn’t matter. She’s happy and she makes music. It’s better than listening to her howl at the top of her voice into the fan.
Teddy Bear, on the other hand, just looks at it and thinks, what’s the big deal? This is pretty much his attitude toward everything but food and being petted. But Teddy Bear is one of those cats who, if human, would say, “My three-year-old can do that.”
I might also point out that animal rescue workers, such as Carol and her friends in Siamese Rescue may well find they need a moment or two (or thirty) each day with Bloom HD, or its iPhone cousin, Trope, in order to work up the courage to tackle another six litter boxes scattered across the living room floor during a major cat quarrel.
Jenny Manytoes rates Bloom HD
Jenny Manytoes would make biscuits all over Bloom HD. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t share her opinion except for cultural snobs who believe no art has been made since the Impressionists arrived.3 But since these snobs probably don’t know anything about the impressionists except that they were French and too big for their own britches, I will at least add that they had moments in the late nineteenth century.