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.”
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.