Rule of Three
On the ocean floor off the Cancún coast, a cluster of statues huddle, held in place by rods. The water passing by the figures has eroded their facial features, smoothing over their eyes and ears. One man stands at a worktop of some sort, though it is unclear what he is busying himself with. Our gaze is drawn to the base of the stone block, to a small, azure mosaic that bears a foe from Space Invaders. Cut from its video game setting, the alien has found a new subaquatic life, tiles standing in for pixellation, with lighter squares suggest bubbles. Its eyes peer upwards, as if wondering how the journey was made from space to street to seabed.
Words by John Wadsworth
directed by Gregg Araki
The opening credits to Mysterious Skin are set against a white background, as blurry, colourful objects rain down onto a young boy’s head. When the picture fades into focus, the cascade is revealed to consist of children’s cereal. Shorn of any context, the image appears to be a joyful, innocent one. But later, this moment is recast as part of a narrative of child exploitation. The fleeting, slow-motion image first glimpsed becomes tainted. The gaiety of that opening shot manipulates its viewers, cruelly coaxing them into enjoying a scene that we come to understand as perverse.
Words by Sophia Martin-Pavlou
To the Moon
developed by Freebird Games
We join two doctors as they arrive at a patient's house, caught in a quick bicker about a driving mishap. Upstairs lies Johnny, an elderly man close to death. We are not here to lengthen his life, but to alter how he recalls it. By creating memories, we can grant him a final wish: to travel to the moon. But he does not know the purpose of his trip; there are missing puzzle pieces for us to find. As we point and click our way through his past, we assemble a plot in reverse, each revelation bringing us closer to the lunar goal. The twinkling piano motif heard in the game’s first scenes shines strong, its two-note trill a memento of Johnny’s starry-eyed youth.
Words by John Wadsworth
More to discover
To the Moon: You can watch the trailer for To the Moon here, and see a playthrough of the game here. Laura Parker has interviewed Kan Gao, the game's designer, for GameSpot, and David Jagneaux has written about RPG Maker (which was used to create To the Moon) for Motherboard.
Space Invaders come from outside of the Earth's atmosphere, where To the Moon's Johnny also dreams of travelling. One of the protagonists of Mysterious Skin believes that he was abducted by aliens as a child.
Question of the day
The Brother from Another Planet, directed by John Sayles. A strange art film in the style of seventies Blaxploitation about ‘The Brother’, an alien who sets up camp in eighties New York. (→)
– Black Marble, electronic musician (via The Brief →)
Star Maker, a novel by Olaf Stapledon. The book describes various alien life forms, and spans the history of the universe.
– John Wadsworth, Silent Frame's Editor-in-Chief (via Patreon →)