edited by Matt Adams
For The Mp3 Experiment Toronto, around 400 people downloaded the same mp3, pressed play at the same time, and had a blast together on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Riverdale Park East. We partnered with Yahoo! to transform The Mp3 Experiment into a full-on North American tour; we started with the New York event, and then made stops in Toronto, San Francisco, and Chicago. You can see a highlight video of the entire tour here.
Below is the mission report for the Toronto event. Enjoy!
Original Music and Sound Design: Agent Walker
Digital Video: Agent JimCo
Digital Photography: Agents Watson, Johnson, Thom, and Vorobeychik
Produced by: Agent Biederman
If you’ve never heard of The Mp3 Experiment, check out our coverage of the past four years:
Riverdale Park East turned out to be a beautiful location for our first mission in Toronto. It has a beautiful view of the city skyline and a nice hill that most participants chose to begin the experiment on. We had a great turnout of 400 or so folks. Our friends Agent Bracken from Newmindspace and Agent KPR from the Impatient Theatre Co. helped us get the word out to locals.
After synchronizing their watches and downloading the mp3 from our website, at exactly 2:00 PM, everyone pressed play together. There were lots of people in the park not involved with the experiment, and it was hilarious to see the looks on their faces as 400 people stood up and started stretching together.
A woman tries to figure out what’s going on
Steve, the mp3’s all-powerful narrator, led participants through a few warm-up tests, to ensure they were alert and aware and ready for the day’s events.
“Touch your nose with your left hand”
“Walk in a straight line with one foot in front of the other”
Two ladies play thumb war
Next, Steve asked participants to high five someone not wearing headphones. It was fun seeing strangers react to several high five requests.
Participants were then told to “hug an animal.” There were 3 or 4 dogs on the field and about 400 people trying to hug them. The dogs loved it!
The next instruction was for participants to take out their umbrellas and spin them while walking towards the center of the field. Part of the fun of The Mp3 Experiment is that the crowd will make decisions on its own that we can never predict. We assumed that the center of the park would be where the crosshair is on this overhead shot:
As folks walked down the hill to the center, all it took was one person to keep walking for everyone else to follow. The crowd decided that they wanted to be in the middle of the track.
Although we didn’t plan for it, it ended up being really cool for the bulk of the experiment to take place in the center of the track. It almost made our experiment seem like an official sport. There was a soccer game happening next to us, and it was funny to stand at the top of the hill and see our event on an athletic field right beside an actual sporting event. Why couldn’t an epic balloon battle be considered a sport?
A soccer ref looks at our crowd
The downside to the crowd moving to the center of the track was that a few people accidentally walked through the corner of the soccer field on the way. The ref got a little annoyed as he yelled at our people on his field. It didn’t help that they were facing the wrong way with headphones on and couldn’t hear his scolds.
The crowd moving to the field
The Toronto crowd had the largest number of infants. Everywhere you looked there was a mother carrying a child.
The “Human Tetris” part of the experiment proved to be the most difficult section to pull off in all four cities of the tour. The instructions confused most in Toronto, but here’s a photo of a red shirt foursome who made a great “block.”
The crowd came together to create a giant canopy of umbrellas and hum together inside. We actually got this idea from our friends at Full Ammo Improv at Penn State.
The experiment ended with the “epic battle” where the Blue/Green team faced off against the Red/Yellow team in all-out balloon warfare. One team headed to the north end of the field while the other went south.
The Blue/Green team organized themselves neatly in front of one of the soccer goals. The Red/Yellow team had a tough time getting on the same page and wound up really spread out.
The above photo is a video still from the helicopter we rented to get aerial shots of the experiment. A few participants thought it was a police helicopter monitoring us for suspicious activity.
After blowing up balloon weapons, both armies marched together until they reached “20-feet” apart. One thing that we didn’t anticipate is that some of the younger participants were raised on the metric system, and didn’t know what “20-feet” meant! They played it cool and went with the crowd.
These guys went the extra mile with yellow hats
Part of the fun with The Mp3 Experiment is that inevitably some participants are either way ahead or way behind everyone else. As the two armies faced off for battle, one girl wearing yellow was clearly a full 30-seconds ahead of the crowd. She seemed like a kamikaze maniac, busting through her ranks and charging the Blue/Green army all by herself.
After gawking at this brave lone soldier, the rest of the crowd caught up and the battle began.
One creative participant turned his balloon into a sword and fought nobly with his child in his arms.
Steve instructed everyone to enact their own bloody death, and the field was left with a tragic mix of balloons and bodies.
The experiment ended and everyone did their part to clean up the balloons, including the ones that had blown way down the field, causing a couple of dogs to chase them madly. Folks lingered and enjoyed the rest of the gorgeous day in the park. Our first trip to Toronto was a total blast and we hope we can come back again soon!
Thanks again to Yahoo! for embracing our mission and making this tour possible. Be sure to see our reports on the other three cities:
You can download some of the songs from The Mp3 Experiment on Agent Walker’s MySpace page.
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.
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.