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The MP3 Experiment

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This, via Museum 2.0, about the evolved flashmobs staged by the participatory public art group Improv Everywhere (“we cause scenes”) is quite lovely!

“I particularly like the MP3 experiments, events at which Improv Everywhere  distribute an audio file to people for free as a podcast. Participants gather in a physical venue with their own digital audio players, and everyone hits “play” at the same time. For about half an hour, hundreds of people play together, silently, as directed by disembodied voices inside their headphones. The MP3 experiment is a model for how a typically isolating experience—listening to headphones in public—can become the basis for a powerful interpersonal experience with strangers. In this way, the MP3 experiment is an example of the ways that technological barriers can become benefits by mediating otherwise uncomfortable interactions.

The MP3 experiment is an exercise in following instructions. The voice tells you what to do –stand up, shake hands, play Twister, make silly shapes—and you do it. Over the years, the experiment has grown in popularity (recently, thanks to this NYT article), and the participants have a sense that they will be asked to do something a little unusual in the context of the event. But it’s still impressive how quickly the recording sets a supportive tone in the face of absurdity. And I think there are lessons in the details of the recording for anyone interested in encouraging visitors/users/participants to step outside their comfort zones and try something new.”


Written by Mira Vogel

July 29, 2009 at 15:36

Posted in art, Drama, event

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Pocket film – making movies on your phone

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Wired has a piece on Masaki Fujihata’s Pocket Film Festival.

“A good pocket film means recording personal happenings, or someone’s personal way of observing the world,” he says. “Normally people try to imitate the big Hollywood films but to make a really good short pocket film make sure [you] start collecting many images. A month or so later you can start to edit them and see what you did.”

Fujihata invited two winners from the 2007 festival, Daisuke Kobayashi and Toru Oyama, along to show me the techniques. I brought along an INQ1 from 3 – a phone whose USP is that it’s wired specifically for uploading content straight onto the internet.

BankArt NYK, an art space on Yokohama’s quayside, is their chosen set. The only limitations they are given are to keep the scenes in the shoot to no more than five. Simplicity is key. It is that method that helped them claim the Grand Prix for their street film 720/24 – as in 720 minutes in 24 hours – two years ago.

They use time as the theme for this masterclass too. “It is now 12.08,” Toru declares as Daisuke, bedecked in fur flying hat and goatee beard, pinches the cameraphone between thumb and forefinger and spins it about like the hands on a clock. As each minute passes, the camera will turn to signify the passing of time. This method, using images from their native Tokyo and showing council estates, playgrounds, subway stations and other urban imagery, is what won them the big prize.

In BankArt NYK they home in on the minutiae of the concrete mausoleum. Pieces of art, the LED lift indicator, the lift doors closing and even a bus parked on the dockside for variety.

They never shoot anything more than a few metres away. That range is the camera’s best operating environment. “The good point of making a movie with a mobile phone is that the people making it and the people watching it are very near each other,” they advise. “Normally, if you’re using a regular camera then the distance between the viewers and the cameraman is very far away.” They make the most of each other’s movement and Daisuke includes Toru in his clips.

Toru gives me another tip: keep the clips short and simple. Some pocket film-makers shoot with the phones only for the imagery to be viewed on a cinema screen. Not these guys. What they see through the phone’s screen is exactly how and what they want their audience to see.

Written by Mira Vogel

April 16, 2009 at 12:09