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An Examination of the Animated Web Series by Umami

By Tom BakerPublished 28 days ago 4 min read
Peeking out mischievously, Mischief in INTERFACE (2016?)

"Since the 1943 phenomenon, the world as we know it has been plagued with an immaterial 'cerebral electricity'. Ghost stories and myths became no longer superstitions, but a horrifying reality that we have been forced to recognize. We have since learned that this electricity was not a foreign substance, that it had been with us all along. It had simply revealed itself to us to observe, to understand..." - Interface


The dead are coming back to life, via AI. This isn't something from a novel by the Prophet William Gibson. With all respect to the Dixie Flatline, this is something being examined in a Sundance documentary NOW.

While strictly speaking, this isn't "reanimation' in the sense of H.P. Lovecraft, it is highly interesting to us personally. The next step will be simply "uploading" your consciousness to the digital cloud, becoming the literal "ghost in the machine."

Interface by"Umami" (Justin Tomchuk) is a surrealist animated web series that is intensely bizarre, transcendent, and beautiful. It is a largely interpretive experience, a sprawling, nearly two hours of the most primitive art and animation that still somehow manages to be completely engrossing and visually arresting; a real experience, in other words. It is stark, ambient, industrial, absurdist, and cyberpunk, and it plays with the theme of disembodied intelligence, what we perceive as our "reality" and the fractured, perceptive lens that is our memory and conscious awareness. In it, a strange, disembodied "ghost" seems to be using a vast AI system developed by the "Greetings Robotics Corporation" to make contact, to have an "Interface" mechanism with the rest of humanity. There are strange, subtle forces of "cerebral electricity" moving through the atmosphere of the alternate Montreal depicted in Interface. The center of the web is a blue-suited quasi-Victorian (not in any sense a fleshed-out character) named "Henryk," who apparently is shadowed (or alternately possessed) by a grotesque, clown-faced worm or eel-like monstrosity with appendages like spaghetti (he confesses that "spaghettification" is his "usual mode of transport"). This is the deep-voiced, gravelly-throated "Mischief," an oddly endearing nightmare of a being who rides like a witch's familiar the silent Henryk, to whom he delivers a running discourse composed of observations and questions, cryptic and inscrutable dialogs that, nonetheless, serve as the counterpoint to Henryk's silent indifference.

Umami YouTube Channel

Henryk, who is over a hundred years old it seems (born 1910), was a part of the "Philidelphia Experiment" in which, legend has it, a U.S. Navy ship was rendered invisible, the crew being "fused to the hull," and Mischief becoming "disembodied"; i.e. losing his human form. Henryk has a confused and confusing familial background, a great-granddaughter whose voice is occasionally heard interrupting throughout. His presumable daughter asks: "When I finally die, should Mom and I wait for you?" Henryk the Silent, seemingly deathless, bowler-hat-wearing image from Magritte's painting of the man with the apple in front of his face (Mischief takes him to the Montreal museum at one point to show him this painting, and comments on it mysteriously) never replies. But these memories haunt his mindscape.

The world of Interface is on the cusp of confronting its own extraterrestrial or extradimensional intelligence. The human body, it seems to say, is the "interface" here--or the energy, the "cerebral electricity" is searching, ever-searching for the interface. Mischief is the exteriorized consciousness of Henryk of course, which is apparent from the beginning. The "Ghost" (a huge hand-like spiritual entity that seems to be "God," maybe?) is an ever-evolving human face projected on a screen. The denizens of the Montreal of Interface are all zombies, trapped, as it were, in their drained, lifeless, nightmare prison. But are these free-form electrical "intelligences" what they appear?


"The Strong eat the weak, and the strong do eat," observes Mischief. "But what about parasites?"

KAMI (the "Kinetic Autonomous Mechanical Interface"), the robotic entity possessed by this electricity, may indeed be a parasite--the seemingly soulless "Mr. Greetings," observes, while giving a lecture at a tech conference, that the cerebral electricity has brought to "reality" the legends of "ghosts and monsters." A huge floating blimp with an infant's face, which is somehow "alive" and being piloted by the KAMI robot, is another of the weird, unforgettable images that swim up from the Interface surreality, a place so stark it would seem that dreams are strangled there; but the opposite is the case.

As to what it all means, that is a personal interpretation I would argue. Others have tried to create order out of chaos, but Interface is a personal experience for the viewer, like looking into the multi-layered mind of a fractionated, schizophrenic, wildly disassociative God-force, a disembodied intelligence, trying to find its robot body, its jack-in to our world from the Matrix.

In short, it wants communion. It wants its interface.

Interface is an immersive, mystical, surreal, and dream-like science fiction experience, interpretive, in the best tradition of avant-garde art and animation. The story is open and meaning is what is selectively perceived by YOU. Which is what reality, beyond the illusions we cover it with, truly consists of.

Interface (Full Animated Movie) in VHS

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About the Creator

Tom Baker

Author of Haunted Indianapolis, Indiana Ghost Folklore, Midwest Maniacs, Midwest UFOs and Beyond, Scary Urban Legends, 50 Famous Fables and Folk Tales, and Notorious Crimes of the Upper Midwest.: http://tombakerbooks.weebly.com

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  • Randy Wayne Jellison-Knock28 days ago

    Sounds interesting. I'll try to come back to watch it when I'm caught up for the night.

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