HTML5 mind blowing
Arcade Fire and Google Chrome team up for an emotional cross promotion
Is it a music video, a guerilla Google Chrome promotion, or an elaborate showpiece for HTML5? It's hard to say, and it could be all of those things.
But The Wilderness Downtown, an interactive online movie experience created by Chris Milk and "some friends at Google" with HTML5 for the Arcade Fire single "We Used to Wait" is one thing — fuckin' COOL.
The site (which, as to be expected, begs for Chrome) prompts viewers to provide their childhood address and then, using elements of a short film created by Milk and the technology of Google Maps (particularly the satellite feature), sends the viewer on an emotional journey to his or her own past, culminating in a "postcard" they write to their childhood self.
The video inhabits a dozen separate windows that pop up and close unprompted across the screen for a layered effect best experienced with all other applications closed. Once concluded, it gives viewers the option of sharing their postcard. If they opt to share, it will be sent either to Arcade Fire to be played on their North American tour or to another viewer. If you receive a postcard from the project — in hard copy, "analog" form — you can plant it.
The envelopes are seeded, and if planted will grow into a tree — a major theme of the video.
HTML5 is being billed as the next major revision in coding, and if this project is any indication, the realm of its possibilities is staggering.
I've spent my entire morning mapping the site to different nostalgic addresses, sending the film's hero or heroine (the protagonist kid-in-a-hoodie is ambiguously gendered) running around my old high school, church and beach house.
The project was produced by Academy Award-winning media company Radical Media and is an impressive portent of what's to come in coding and in music. Arcade Fire — whose lead singer Win Butler grew up in The Woodlands — seems particularly clued in, and I'm eager for their next move.