John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Cross that demon child from The Ring with a 16-bit Super Mario, and you might get this uncanny optical illusion.
While not as horrifying as that demon-lassie who crawls out of a TV in The Ring, this little girl in a British train station packs an uncanny mind-punch. Seen from afar, she looks almost normal – there's just a blurriness in her outline, as if somebody had slathered her with globs of Vaseline:
Walk closer and it becomes obvious there's something vastly wrong with this child:
Yep, normal girls don't dissolve into vague regions of colored pixels:
Somebody call Mario and Luigi – Princess Peach has escaped from her 16-bit prison:
This unnerving public artwork was recently installed by Luke Jerram in the Bristol Temple Meads train station, a 1840s-era hub in southwestern England that transports commuters to Manchester, Edinburgh, London and elsewhere. Jerram, who was behind that London sculpture that howls in the wind and the phenomenon of sidewalk pianos, based the sculpture (called "Maya") on his real-life daughter. It's meant to be a comment on the digital revolution, he writes:
A young girl can be seen standing alone at the end of the train station platform. Who's she with? Is she travelling alone? Engrossed in her own world, she is still and focuses on the phone she carries. As a concerned member of the public approaches, her form appears to digitize and fragment into cubes....
Every occasion of our lives now seems to be documented with the plethora of cameras we carry around with us. Images are shared and distributed online for our family, friends and the public to see. Unsure of the implications of this life online, will photos of us remain on the internet forever? Or will they simply get lost and become anonymous in the billions of images we upload each year?
If you're ever in Bristol, you can find Maya quietly resolving into pixels on Platform No. 1. Here's hoping that more people enjoy having her around than YouTube commenter HorrorsNEET, who writes, "This sculpture is gonna hunt me in my nightmares," because Jerram's daughter from Bizarro World is there permanently.