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Videogame generates worlds based on your webcam, horror ensues

We drive into the future using only our rearview mirror.

— Marshall McLuhan

Ian MacLarty’s Reflections inspired one of those “whoa the future is here” moments in me. I remember years ago, I felt like I was in the goddamn Jetsons the first time I ever Skyped with a person half way across the world. I mean webcams—next you’ll be telling me we can talk to people on our watches, too!

But Reflections is less cartoon sci-fi fantasy future, and more nightmarish surrealism made possible by technology. Like a mirror image of our mutated digital souls, Reflections generates a 3D landscape based on the visual feed from your webcam. A more humbling experience I have never known than to watch the contours of my face transform into the peaks and valleys of a virtual world.

Standing on the flesh-colored ground, I looked up only to spot two pale, white suns high in the sky. Then they blinked. And I realized they were actually my eyeballs distorted into pitiless spheres of horror. When I shared a screenshot with the Kill Screen staff, one intern dubbed me “lumpy space Sauron.”

one intern dubbed me “lumpy space Sauron” 

But surreal doesn’t even begin to cover an experience like Reflections. It doesn’t just render a world from a static image of your face. It moves in response to your movements, a funhouse mirror that creates a distorted dimension instead of just an image. If you smile, the world suddenly splinters into a kaleidoscope of red gums and white spikes. If you try to get your dog in front of the webcam (as I did), he becomes Cloud Dog Jesus, with monuments springing forth to worship him above and below.

All I know is that if Reflections somehow gets VR support, brains might start imploding. 

You can generate your own horror-filled dimensions on your browser for free here.