Thursday, April 23, 2009

Deep Space Hand of Fate

Ben Chamberlain's Supermassive Black Hole is something different, and half the intrigue is figuring out what. I read the ABOUT page, so I know a bit more, but if you come into it cold all you know is there is a ship-to-ship struggle happening in space, and no one seems to realize their proximity to a black hole.

Consequently everything from characters to hand tools disappear abruptly and without warning as they blunder across the event horizon -- the point of no return for anything approaching a black hole. Once inside, you and the collapsed star merge with an excruciating intimacy.

This is more of an animated webcomic than a cartoon, so it's interesting to see how it straddles dual roles. It's also not without some scenes that tick on too long, and a weird moment where someone seems to fall into the event horizon, but in defiance of physics, does not remain visible. This suggests there are other places to fall when surrounded by infinite vacuum.

It's also a bit of a memory hog, so consider shutting off extra stuff to make viewing more fun.

I like piecing together what is happening from the fragments of conversations, which is made harder by the fact that people vanish mid-sentence. It becomes a tragic-comic farce, almost silly if it weren't so serious. The event horizon symbolizes omnipresent, invisible, certain death; a stark contrast to the more ludicrous human endeavors unfolding nearby.

If the execution is uneven, the ideas are intriguing. I can see most people agreeing, with as many liking as hating it, so I don't refer you with an endorsement of the entertainment value as much as intellectual curiosity. Consider how the story setting and the resources of the web intersect to create unexpected viewing experiences. Ironically, the marriage of the primitive and the technological are what make it distinct.

Watching time seemed around ten minutes. Pauses before and after the main loading sequence are short and should not alarm you.