The Mp3 Experiment Four

Our fourth Mp3 Experiment was our biggest mission to date. 826 people downloaded the same mp3, pressed play at the same time, and had a blast together on Lower Manhattan’s beautiful waterfront. Enjoy the videos first and then go behind the scenes with our mission report, photos, and audio downloads.

Original Music and Sound Design: Agent Walker
Digital Video: Agents Shafer, Slocum, Goldman, Adams
Digital Photography: Agents Nicholson, Fountain, Pallas, Sokoler
Crowd Control: Agents Arnheiter, Sklaren
Rooftop Inside Man: Agent Dfactor
German Tourist: Agent Walker

To participate in this year’s experiment, agents were given these instructions. Everyone synchronized their watch to the clock on the instruction page, downloaded the mp3, wore a red, blue, yellow, or green shirt, and then reported to the blue zone in the map above. At exactly 4:00 PM, everyone pressed play.


Panorama – click here for full size

Our starting point, the plaza outside the World Financial Center by the North Cove Yacht Harbor, was absolutely gorgeous as everyone arrived. We lucked out and had a 75 degree, sunny day (amazing for August in New York.) It was fun watching the gray plaza slowly fill up with primary colors.


(digitally altered to enhance red)

While this was the first mission for many in the crowd, there were also familiar faces from missions past. One of the redheads from last month’s Wendy’s protest came out with his wife and newborn, who was born after the redhead mission, only a few weeks ago.

Since blue was one of the options for shirt colors, one guy decided to wear the same blue polo he wore to Best Buy.

The tension built as the plaza got more and more crowded, with our agents sitting on pretty much every bench available. At 4:00 we all pressed play and were treated with two minutes of Agent Walker’s awesome instrumental theme music. Subway delays kept more than a few people from arriving exactly on time, but since everyone’s watch was synchronized, the late folks were still able to participate. They just pressed play on their stalled subway car and sprinted to our location as soon as they got above ground. Some folks even got off the subway and hopped in a cab with total strangers, identifying each other by their headphones and bright t-shirts.

After the instrumental, Steve (everyone’s favorite omnipotent voice from above) welcomed everyone to the experiment and asked us to stand up on whatever we were sitting on. At the same instant all 826 participants stood, and everyone else in the plaza started looking around, mouths open, trying to figure out what the hell was happening.


Participants wave to each other; note the four non-participants smiling at the bottom

Steve then announced we’d play a simple pointing game, first asking everyone to point to the tallest building.


The guy sitting isn’t one of us, just playing along

Steve then asked folks to point to the Statue of Liberty (even if you can’t see it) and Nicaragua (even if you can’t see it.)


People disagree on where Nicaragua is

People came from all over to participate in the experiment. One guy flew in from Arizona. Another guy came from Atlanta. Folks drove in from as far as Toronto. The Massari family made it to their second mission, after driving down from Conneticut for Slo-Mo Home Depot on the same weekend last year. I still think the dad looks like Tom Selleck.


The Massari family

Steve then instructed everyone to find a German tourist wearing a yellow shirt. As it turned out there was a super-tall participant wearing a yellow shirt that said “GERMs” and a somewhat German hat. Instantly hundreds of people starting running towards him. He did his best to shake his head and shout, “It’s not me!” but of course no one could hear him.


Not the German tourist


Participants crowd around the wrong guy (he’s in the center to the left of the lamp post.)

Eventually people realized they had run to the wrong man, and everyone started skipping (as instructed) to the real German tourist.


The German tourist

The tourist was standing in a giant checkered area with four colors of tiles. Steve announced that we would be playing a game of Twister. He explained the rules and then started calling the game as all 800 of us tried to follow without falling.


“Left foot, red!”


“Right foot, black!”

The Twister area was right next to the entrance of the shopping mall part of the Financial Center. Folks walking out of the mall gawked at the site of our massive game.

After the game, Steve instructed us to follow the German. Surely after studying his map he’d know a beautiful place to take us. The enormous crowd paraded behind him up the waterfront.


An older couple struggles to share headphones

As we walked, Steve told us to interact with strangers. At various times we were told to smile, give thumbs up, and high five people we passed along the way.

Finally, the German tourist found what he was looking for, Nelson Rockefeller Park, an idyllic green space poking out into the Hudson River.

Through the wonders of the Internet we were able to track down someone who lived in one of the high rise apartments next to the park to get some aerial photography and video. Huge thanks to Agent Dfactor for hooking us up with roof access. (Check out his awesome music blog – Waved Rumor.)


Agents Nicholson and Goldman were shooting from the top of the middle building


Agent Goldman sets up a tripod


Agent Dfactor and son on the roof

The park is a little out of the way so it’s mostly used by the folks who live in the neighborhood and usually isn’t too crowded. We wanted to make sure we weren’t rude to those that were there, so we sent Agents Arnheiter and Sklaren to scout ahead and warn people that a crowd was on the way. All of the sunbathers were very cool, and most seemed to get a huge kick out of the whole thing. Some cheered us on. Some ignored us and kept to their sunbathing.

Some of the neighbors watched us from their balconies and windows.


One woman applauds as others look out their windows

Participants were instructed to pack a camera, and once everyone was settled in the park, Steve gave us some photography assignments (take a picture with no yellow shirts, take a picture with exactly one red and one blue shirt, take a picture with no cameras in it…) It was fun to see how people worked together. Red and blues coupled off and took self-portraits and then posed for other people. When Steve asked us to take a photo with as many cameras as possible, everyone raised their cameras above their heads to help the cause.

Our next task was to create a human dartboard. Steve asked all of the green shirts to clump together in the middle of the park.

In the photo above you can see that there were some guys sunbathing right where the green mob formed. They were slowly engulfed by our crowd. Folks reported the guys were laughing the whole time as they became surrounded.

The red shirts were added next and were told to form a circle around the green mob.

The blue shirts then circled the red shirts as the mob grew dangerously close to another group of sunbathers.

Steve then realized he had made a mistake. Dartboards should have red at the center, not green. The greens and the reds had to squeeze past each other and switch places.


The Norwegian Spirit cruise ship floats by


You can see the World Financial Center were we started in the upper left corner

Steve the told the yellow shirts that they were the darts and had to try to get as close to the bullseye as possible.


Yellows push through

Agent Nicholson was able to get a headcount using this next picture.

After the dartboard was complete, Steve told us it was time to play freeze tag. “Yellow is it!” he announced. The dartboard exploded as people scattered in every direction avoiding the yellows. The poor red shirts stuck in the middle got trapped and immediately frozen.

Each color got a chance at being it as everyone sprinted around the entire park.

After freeze tag, Steve had the out-of-breath participants lie down on the ground and relax. He asked to us to shout “goodbye,” and it was fun to hear how off certain people were, yelling early or late. He then introduced us to his “quasi-nipotent” half-brother Mark who would lead us in some relaxation exercises. Soothing music played as Mark gave out ridiculous instructions that made little sense.

After the experiment ended, one of the guys in the above photo remarked, “I thought y’all were going to kill yourselves,” while another said, “I thought it was the end of the world. Everyone was lying down. I was looking for the comet to come pick you up!”

Once the track ended, participants sat up, removed their headphones, and enjoyed the rest of the beautiful day with their 825 new friends.

Mission Accomplished.


OTHER RESOURCES:

PHOTOS
Agent Nicholson’s Flickr photoset (highlights only) (18 photos)

Agent Nicholson’s Flickr photoset (full) (174 photos)

Agent Fountain’s Flickr photoset (157 photos)

Agent Sokoler’s Flickr photoset (50 photos)

AUDIO
(all music composed by Tyler Walker)
Full Mp3 (36 minutes)

Intro Music mp3

German Tourist mp3

Walking mp3

Freeze Tag mp3

all music ©2007 tyler walker

AGENT REPORTS
Check out first hand reports from participants and links to their own flickr sets and blog posts on Recap Page. Add your own report if you were there.

HIRE US
We have also toured The Mp3 Experiment around the world to places like Berlin, Germany and Adelaide, Australia. If you’re part of an organization (festival, university, arts group) that is interested in commissioning an Mp3 Experiment, get in touch via our contact form.

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Comments

comments

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63 Responses to The Mp3 Experiment Four

  1. Wyatt says:

    That’s awesome. I listened to the mp3 before hand, (i didn’t participate) and it was hilarious to see the turn out… I didn’t expect THAT many!…

    Thanks for your awesome work guys.

  2. Agent Wheels says:

    Brilliant. Just brilliant….

  3. Kingfox says:

    That was a lot of fun, thank you so much for organizing it.

  4. Agent Gwinny says:

    Wow, great photos! I will have to wait until I get home to see the videos, since streaming video is blocked for me at work :-/

    Thanks IE!!

  5. Liza says:

    I was laughing all the way home. I had such a smile on my face I think I fell asleep smiling when I went to bed!

    Hrrmmm… Where can I find a big “twister” board in Fairfield County Connecticut?

  6. SaraV says:

    I had SUCH a great time! This was SUCH fun!!

  7. farkus parkus says:

    you’re all pathetic.

  8. Nev the Deranged says:

    This one looks like yet another blast! Tyler’s music is great, I love the tribal grunts in the walking song. I really wish someone with more time and organizational skillz than me would put together a Chicago version =\

  9. Agent Gwinny says:

    farkus parkus: what’s even more pathetic is that you took 1 minute out of your sad, fun-challenged existence to come in here and say that.

  10. wow… soo… when you gonna do improveverywhereUK ?!
    it would be so cool!… i think… :D

  11. Agent Shaps says:

    How do we get this mp3 nominated for a Grammy?

  12. Tyrun says:

    Chicago version for the win!!!

    Does anyone know if there’s a lead on a chicago version? If not, we should try to put something together.

    Hit me up if anyone is in/around chicago and interested:

    creativity-unleashed ie@gmail.com

    -Tyrun

  13. Tyrun says:

    Edit: Email didn’t go through right:

    creativity.unleashed@gmail.com

    -Tyrun

  14. Jessica says:

    props.

  15. god, i wish i had known about this…. i would have travelled to be part of this operation, no problem. Next time, whatever you do, we would love to be involved. Absolutely. No questions asked. Absolutely amazing that you did this – Applause all the way around. I must see if i can write this up for my site at http://www.tantmieux.squarespace.com; it’s a great thing you did and a helluva lot of fun and that’s what life should be – fun… and boo to anyone who says otherwise.

    cheers,

    s.r.p.

  16. famdoc says:

    “older couple”
    as a member of the older race, one-half of an older couple (not THE older couple) and a member of the older person liberation front (OPLF), I demand you delete all ageist references from your report.

  17. Moo says:

    You scare me, old person.

    If I ever get the chance to travel to NY, I’m there at the next experiment. Glad it was fun.

  18. Agent Squirrels says:

    My friend and I drove up from Delaware just to participate in the experiment, and let me say, I can’t wait for the next one! Nothing like good clean fun with 800 friends I’ve never met before.

  19. Agent Tandaemonium says:

    I came from Cleveland and brought a local friend along. We were one of the late ones and had to prep up and hit play to synch along even though we weren’t there yet.

    We were nervous upon arrival because it was after the part where everyone began to follow the German tourist, and there was no indication of which direction everyone went. Once we got there, we just took a guess to go West and Northwest along the path. At first we couldn’t find any signs of the color shirts, but then I caught a glimpse of the colors beyond some tree foliage. We ran towards those colors in the distance only to find it was someone’s beachball. We began to think we went the wrong way, but we pressed on and soon enough we were within sight of the park and the sea of people! Just in time for the camera participation!

  20. Frank says:

    Hi.

    This is a good mission. Really fun to watch.

    Thank you all of the people.

    My respect,

    Frank
    From Holland