Your mind probably exploded the first time you discovered the iTunes visualizer. Hopefully, you were alone, unsuspecting, and casually perusing your library on an uneventful night. Then, one accidental keyboard press later—BOOM. There you are, with a Pink Floyd light show on command at the tips of your fingers, allowing you to make the lights implode, divide, rejoin—all with the flick of your wrist.
According to creator Oliver Garcia-Borg, Iridescent Configuration was “designed to give an unusual sense of agency,” allowing players to influence the strange behaviors of eight different “experiments in motion, interaction, colors, shapes, and nonsense.” he interactions feel like vignettes into artistic control. Each configuration (which can be shifted with the number buttons on your keyboard) drops you into a scene with varying degrees of interactivity, where you can twirl and twist iconographic symbols of modern art. Most of the materials are vibrant, yet sparse, each with its own version of geometric simplicity.
Though the itch.io download page describes Iridescent Configuration as, not a game, but a “clusterfuck,” the variations in agency seem part of a larger question on how much control a user needs for a sense of play. Of course, having complete control over a beautiful light show or an iridescent shape feels naturally enticing. One of the scenes even gives you swarm-like control over a bunch of blue paint blobs, their sudden turns appearing like an attack formation you direct. But there’s something to be said for the more subtly swayed configurations, too, like number six, which spins like a great big sun getting pushed and pulled ever so slightly by a gravitational pull.
Not to mention that its hard to think of these configurations as “clusterfucks” (again, creator’s description) since each stands very much independent of the others. Though most of the configurations sustain that modern art theme, the final one left me scratching my head before finally emitting a soft and revelatory “ohhhhh.”
After controlling the abstract visuals of every other configuration, the last one brings you to a very familiar scene, with a tree and a bunch of birds perching on it. Eventually, the birds start dying off, and there’s nothing you can do about it. One by one, they up and expire, falling from the tree and rolling away off-screen. It’s funny, but also makes you feel kind of helpless to do anything. After the power trips of the other configuration, it leaves a more level-headed impression than any session with an iTunes visualizer might.