Tyranny, one of the most visually haunting science fiction flicks available on the Web, comes from the imagination of a guy who spends his days photographing real-life science. John Beck Hofmann is director of photography at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, and that makes his tale of government conspiracies and machine-induced prophetic visions even more interesting. Is there something Hofmann knows about secret NASA projects that we don't?
Tyranny is being posted in bite-sized webisodes on YouTube, and currently there are several episodes up for you to watch. Though the plot feels a little bit like Darren Aronofsky's recent love-it-or-hate-it movie The Fountain where a guy quests after his love through the centuries, it's worth watching just for the dark, Soviet-style iconography and themes. Hofmann sums up the plot like this:
The story is about a young artist from San Francisco named Daniel McCarthy, who volunteers for a brain mapping experiment at Berkeley University in November 1999. During the experiment, he has a vision of what he believes to be the future - whether that is the near future or distant future, he doesn't know. In fact, he doesn't really remember what he saw at all, he only has the random scribbles he jotted down on a piece of paper when the experiment was over. It is now that his quest begins and he must solve the mysterious puzzle of his own making. Now enter Isabelle Lorenz, a young graduate student from Berkeley who is invited to one of Daniel's art exhibits. The two are immediately drawn to each other. They both feel something larger than themselves pulling them together. Is it fate, or something else? Daniel begins to realize there is more to meeting Isabelle than random chance as he discovers that she was part of his vision...in some way...if he could only remember... But that is simply how it all starts. What comes next is full of very strange people and twisted events, political chaos and corporate takeovers, international conspiracies and traveling across the globe with an underground group of revolutionaries.
Like a lot of current indie SF, such as Primer and The Fountain, Tyranny eschews rayguns and spaceships in order to study the alien interior of the human mind. If you like a little politics and paranoia with your dystopian visions, you'll be on the edge of your seat waiting for the next installment of Tyranny.