With It’s straight-faced documentary presentation and found-footage aesthetic, it may take a minute or two before you realize that Till Nowak’s The Centrifuge Brain Project is hell-bent on taking you for a ride—literally. What seems like a conventional profile of a high-tech research institute quickly transitions into a joyous visual spectacle—an Escher-inspired, mad-scientist fueled jaunt through the world of amusement park insanity. Yet, despite all its fun—its playful visual joy—the film’s presentation is decidedly stoic. As is apparent with the film’s website, Nowak and his team are eager to maintain an academic facade.
Impressive special effects videos are practically commonplace nowadays—the sort of stuff that you browse on your vimeo feed during your lunch break. The Centrifuge Brain Project takes the next logical step, combining computer generated eyecandy within an established world. The result is something that doesn’t feel just like a tech. demo, but rather a unique glimpse into a zany unreality. It helps that the film treats its ridiculous concepts with such a self-serious air—never once letting the viewer see that its tongue is so firmly planted in its own cheek. Yes, we we know that we’re seeing is impossible, but the effects are so good, the “found footage” so realistic, that your brain wants to argue otherwise, attempting to completely disregard your knowledge of the physical world in the process. It’s like a Valve game come to life—a playground where imagination, physics, and world building come together to create an innovative sandbox where anything is possible.
Kudos to writer’/director Till Nowak, who has crafted a project that perfectly meshes with his unique skill set as a digital artist. As a filmmaker, this is clearly intended to be his calling card. And, while you could certainly argue that The Centrifuge Brain Project is a bit on the lighter side (the effects are clearly the focal point), the film still manages to win you over in its brief six minute runtime. Frankly, it’s just plain hard not to get swooped up by the whimsy. With each new contraption the film presents, you marvel at the spectacle, waiting with wide-eyes just to see what playful madness The Centrifuge Brain Project will conjure up next.