Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The future of music videos?

I've just spent the last 4 minutes watching interacting with a music video by the Arcade Fire for their current single 'We Used To Wait' (taken from The Suburbs) after having heard about their new experimental project on the Guardian's music blog.  Instead of creating the typical music video that fans can watch on MTV or via YouTube, the band have had a dedicated website coded in HTML5 by Chris Milk which mashes up data from Google Maps and Street View, together with user written content to create a unique interactive music video experience.  Whether you are a fan of the band or not, I urge you to visit the site and try it out for yourself to grasp what some have called the 'future of music videos'

The link is http://www.thewildernessdowntown.com/ 
NB: the site is processor intensive and involves browser-based pop-ups so be prepared to kill background applications etc in order to get the best experience.  Google Chrome is the recommended browser of choice although some people have had luck with Firefox and Safari 


This is a music video in which you get to interact with the content rather than sit back and watch/listen - it might just be the beginning of a new way of 'doing' music videos for a generation of people brought up with the expectation that they can manipulate and interact with their media - the so-called 'digital natives' (how I hate that term!).

The site asks you to input the address of your childhood home before depicting hooded youth running through an anonymous urban environment. A pop-up opens with a flock of birds circling - your mouse movement seems to alter their motion (edit: no it doesn't). Another series of pop-ups open at various positions on the screen, similar to music video edits which often tear the screen in videos creating multiple story windows.  Sepia-tinged aerial shots of your childhood street begin to appear, together with some panoramic shots of your neighbourhood before the video asks you to write a postcard to your younger self.

Arcade Fire postcard

Before long the music video reaches its peak and you get the option to save your postcard and have it feature in the band's forthcoming tour material.

Some people have been critical of the way in which the vide employs pop-up windows as a means of creating a new kind of video edit but I'm agnostic about this given that there seems to be some kind of artistic intent behind their deployment.  A few people have also had their experience ruined by a message stating that Google doesn't have enough map data to display their childhood home.

What do you think of the video? Innovation or gimmick?

3 comments:

JP Green said...

A thing of beauty - wasn't such a gimmick that I wasn't listening to the music. Didn't really feel part of the video - but that's more to do with the processing of my hometown of Birmingham - went to Alabama not the West Midlands :)
Still, enjoyable and if nothing else, showed me that my processor at home hasn't quite given up the ghost

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