All Alone… (Improv Everywhere’s mp3 Experiment)

16 Jul

This evening my dad and I trekked down to the Chelsea Piers (armed with flashlights, glow sticks, masks, iPods, and white shirts) for the 8th year of Improv Everywhere’s mp3 Experiment.

The way it works is you download an mp3 (this year it was about 50 minutes long) from their site the day before the event, and do everything you can not to listen to it. People were broken up into two groups by their birthday (Jan-June were told to wear black shirts and meet at one location, July-Dec wore white and met at a pier a couple hundred yards away), given a list of seemingly random items to bring, and told to meet at the given location at 8PM (at which time you press “play” and start the mp3).

It started out with just music, then a voice started giving instructions to take pictures of, practice strange hand shakes with, and waltz with random people around you. The voice told us to make a pilgramage to the people with black shirts, the premise of the evening being that our two cultures are meeting for the first time. We walked, high fived passers by wondering what the heck was going on, and ended the experiment with a massive rave / dance party. And yes, our two cultures successfully assimilated. Those who dance together, make peace together.

In recent years, silent discos have been rising in popularity, both for their fun factors and practicality in places where there are sound restrictions. Basically, it’s a normal party with a DJ, only everyone is wearing headphones and the DJ’s beats travel from the sound system to antennae on the headphones so that onlookers can’t hear a peep while people in-the-phones (the more applicable version of in-the-know, obviously) can hear the music loud and clear. It’s the hybrid of the iPod experiences with the group feel of a concert, very strange to get used to. The project tonight was a lot like that, we were all hearing the same thing at the same time, we being those of us tuned it. The person next to my left may be hearing the man in the sky’s voice along with my while the person to my right’s soundtrack is the normal honking, yelling, bustling. It’s a weird concept, and my mind is still getting used to it. But I think I approve.

Currently listening to: the voiiiiiiiiiiiices in my heeeeeeeeeead ;P

PS Going forward, I think I’m going to keep having Beach Boys’ songs as titles, but added descriptions in parentheses. I think that’d make it easier to find specific posts and make a bit more sense.

3 Responses to “All Alone… (Improv Everywhere’s mp3 Experiment)”

  1. Francis July 22, 2011 at 9:38 AM #

    That sounds like a really interesting event. My Dad and I went on a Sound Walk the other week. You’re not allowed to talk and a group of about 20 people is lead through the city just listening. It’s funny what you hear when you’re actively listening. We also weird’d out passers by because we were a mob, moving as one, silently.

    • blogonlyknows July 22, 2011 at 1:17 PM #

      That’s awesome, both for you and the people you freaked out! Was there a group organizing the event?

      • Francis July 23, 2011 at 3:24 AM #

        Yeah it was part of the Melbourne Jazz Fest.
        A bit strange but kinda makes sense, free form sounds, like the city is playing music.

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