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The Wilderness Downtown

November 16th, 2011   By   Filed Under: Digital, Everyone, Interesting, Weird and Wonderful

Ok, so I know I’m a little slow off the mark with this one but, having recently taken part on a day’s coding course, I have a new-found respect for the art of the website. And it couldn’t be more arty than with this little stunner – http://www.thewildernessdowntown.com/ – an enchantingly beautiful fusion of Arcade Fire’s “We Used to Wait” and Google Chrome’s diverse capabilities.

So, there are quite a few things I like about this. Firstly, Arcade Fire can do no wrong in my eyes. Their music is awesome and I will always be a huge fan. Secondly, I love the fact that they’ve gone against the traditional music video grain. Chris Milk, the “video’s” Director, has a pretty impressive CV, having directed Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks” and U2 and Green Day’s “The Saints are coming”. Of the music video medium, he has said “Honestly, I’m not sure music videos can ever really touch you as deeply as music alone can. Music scores your life. You interact with it. It becomes the soundtrack to that one summer with that one girl. Music videos are very concrete and rigid because they rely on someone else’s vision. Sometimes mine”. So true, Chris. Clearly, this opinion was shared by the Canadian group and The Wilderness Downtown was born.

Google Chrome allows for a more personal, immersive experience. At the beginning the viewer is asked to enter the destination of where they grew up, which calls up images from Google Maps at certain moments in the song. You’re also allowed the opportunity to enter a message to your younger self which is, in turn, incorporated into the video.

Google’s technology became a crucial ingredient in The Wilderness Downtown. “Google Maps and streetview provided a really good answer to a big question I had when we began the project,” says Milk. “What could we do, using the tools available, that would emotionally resonate with people, without getting them bogged down in the technology? It’s easy to lose the humanity when you start showcasing tech. Google Maps and streetview embody this contradiction of cold high-tech that can be incredibly emotional when used in the right context.”

The result is, I think you’ll agree, bloody impressive. I compel you to watch it and not be affected.

Check out the website here: http://www.thewildernessdowntown.com

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Leave a comment (1)


  1. Julian Johnson says:

    Awesome Sophie! Unfortunately it struggled to find enough images for Mombasa, Kenya, but I still got a great feel for it and the execution is awesome. Of course with your new found coding experience, you’ll have an even deeper, subliminal, instinctive understanding! :)

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