Since my recent post about The Johnny Cash Project, its director Chris Milk has followed that up with the launch this week of another very interesting participatory piece, a collaboration with Google Creative Labs and Aaron Koblin in his role as Technology Lead there.
The Wilderness Downtown offers an interactive experience of the Arcade Fire song “We Used to Wait”. Invited to select the address of your childhood home you can (providing you live in territories covered by Street View – see below) become the subject of your own music video as images of your street, house, and area are effectively woven into a multi-screen interactive work. It’s an evocative, slightly uncanny experience as a live action and then CGI figure appears to run through the hyper-familiar but strange (not-quite-as- remembered) landscape of one’s own childhood.
The piece is innovative on a number of fronts. It takes advantage of Google Maps and Street View as archives for personalised storytelling – an inspired idea. It turns the thoughts provoked by a ‘lean back’ viewing experience into a creative act; at a certain point in the song you’re asked to write a postcard to your youthful self. It also showcases the interactive potential of HTML5 – find out more about how it’s done on the Chrome Experiments blog.
Music video producers have been slow to pick up on the potential of participation but The Johnny Cash Project and The Wilderness Downtown show just what a powerful space this can be.
Google Street View Coverage