The skyline of Infinite City, the setting of “Your Universe is Weird.” Photos courtesy of Man-Like Machines

What do you get when you take the pandemic-stifled creative brain of a Maine filmmaker, run it through the most cutting-edge AI software, toss in a dash of absurdist sci-fi comedy, and launch it out onto the internet for all to see?

You get “Your Universe Is Weird,” the very accurately titled new web series from Portland filmmaker George Dalphin, which is now live at

For those not in the know, “AI” refers to “artificial intelligence.” Specifically, in the case of this wild and fascinating collaboration between Dalphin and creative partner Joe Foster, it refers to the new breed of computer-generated art programs (“Your Universe Is Weird” uses one called Midjourney) that interpret word prompts from the user into fantastical, one-of-a-kind images.

What that means for Dalphin is an entirely new way to tell stories.

“It was this summer when the image-generating AIs appeared,” Dalphin said. “I began playing around with them, and my collaborator and I thought it was a way to make use of this new tool as fast as possible while the technology was still in the process of evolving. It seemed a perfect fit for the sketch comedy concept we had in mind for a lot of our ideas.”

Redacted Redacted, one of the hosts on the “local access human channel” in “Your Universe is Weird.”

The first episode, released Sunday, is introduced as the pilot for a “local access human channel” series for Channel ZZZ, broadcasting from the “hyper-dimensional megaplex” called Infinite City. The series is hosted by Redacted Redacted (voiced by Dalphin) and Assigned Pseudonym (Foster), two Earth denizens whose recent psychedelic experience (on “gnome drugs,” according to Assigned Pseudonym) has landed them in this strange new world.


“We’re definitely here,” emphasizes Pseudonym, “We have paperwork.”

Sending their new show back into our realm both to assure loved ones that they are alive and to introduce our “goofy backwater” of a dimension to just how weird the universe is, the two unsettlingly deadpan travelers promise to open some minds to the infinite possibilities of Infinite City. And, boy, do they. Frequent commercials bleed in over the interdimensional airwaves, from a dating service for the undead to unidentifiably odd foodstuffs to lawyers pitching ennui insurance for the immortal. There are toy ads for otherworldly action figures, public service announcements warning of violent muppet criminals with names like “The Mormon Elevator,” a sitcom peopled by gibbering microscopic critters called ‘Microbiome,” and many even more indescribable things.

Redacted Redacted’s co-host, Assigned Pseudonym.

On its own, Dalphin and Foster’s premise is a work of loony, sinister brilliance. Running that ever-shifting alt-reality alt-comedy through the alienating AI imagery lifts “Your Universe Is Weird” somewhere far stranger and eerier, the duo’s Monty Python-esque stream of consciousness mini-narratives emerging like the truly alien broadcast interruption it purports to be. As Dalphin explains, while every bit of dialogue is written by himself and Foster, every scrap of imagery is AI-generated, along with most of the voices, and even the series’ music.

“We use a handful of different AI tools,” said Dalphin. “The animation is created with an AI depth map that allows me to move back and forth as if it’s a 3-D space. For the faces, there’s another tool to animate the moving mouths. For most of the voices, while we’re planning to incorporate some of our talented friends in the future, in the pilot they’re all voice-generated. Another program even creates songs.” (That said, Dalphin is excited that post-punk band Shreikback has signed on to write and perform the show’s theme song.) Still, as Dalphin notes, “Everything is written by us. We didn’t use any AI writing tools – even though that (expletive) is real, too.”

For Dalphin, whose sci-fi short “Neurophreak” was included in the 2015 edition of Maine-made anthology series Damnationland, “Your Universe Is Weird” seems right up his particularly strange and adventurous alley. But, as the filmmaker notes, it was the enforced downtime of the past several years that spurred him to explore our own, increasingly fraught and frightening universe through the lens of AI.

“I’ve been working on a five-part novel called ‘Athens’ all about the life of Socrates. Sort of a life’s work sort of thing – I’d been living in ancient Athens for the past six years. Meanwhile, I had a sci-fi series called ‘Fleshers’ all mapped out and was in planning for that when 2020 occurred, and everything’s been wild since then,” he said.


With Dalphin and Foster already planning a second series, “Your Universe Is Weird’s” first 10 episodes will emerge on the series’ website over the next few months, with Dalphin teasing that the various, seemingly random threads will be evolving and intermixing, just as the new AI technology continues to do the same. (Dalphin promises that saucier spinoff “Microbiome Nights” is in the offing.)

In addition, the psychedelic journey of Redacted Redacted and Assigned Pseudonym will take twists and turns, their initial role as ringmasters for the series’ kaleidoscope of mind-bending comic oddity gradually revealing more about their fates in their new alien home.

It’s ambitious, hilarious, unsettling, and altogether a remarkable achievement, a thematic stew of form and function producing something I genuinely haven’t seen before. For Dalphin, whose explorations into the artistic possibilities of AI art can often be spotted on his Facebook page, these new creative tools are here to stay.

“It’s definitely not a fad. It’s wild to see AI evolve so much, to see the quality of what it’s produced. It’s evolved insanely fast, and we wanted to make and quickly stamp our series as being made this year,” he said.

The first episode of “Your Universe Is Weird” is up now at for free.

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Auburn with his wife and cat.

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