Created by: Charlie Todd and Tyler Walker
Directed by: Charlie Todd
Music: Tyler Walker
Camera Operators: Justin Gonçalves, Keith Haskel, Clarence Eckerson, Vladimir Efros, Noam Meyerfeld
Editor: Keith Haskel, Justin Gonçalves
Still Photography: Arin Sang-urai, ZED Images
Special Thanks: Justin Ayers and Andrew Soltys at Deverge; Anne Bonacum, Kevin McGinn, Jane Rossman, and Jerry Scupp at Garment District Alliance; Andrew Hyatt, Paul Krikler, Anna Melendez, and Katherine Nessel at Transportation Alternatives.
For our latest mission, thousands of people followed secret, synchronized instructions delivered via headphones in Manhattan’s Garment District. The crowd of around 2,000 people blended in on sidewalks just south of Times Square. The app-powered audio started playing at exactly 3:00 PM.
After surprising random strangers in the area with high fives, dollar bills, and unexpected synchronized movements, participants convened on a new public plaza on Broadway between 39th and 40th Streets for a colorful celebration and a bubble-filled finale.
This was all part of our eighteenth annual Mp3 Experiment event, held every summer in New York City and toured around the world.
We support this free event by touring it to schools, festivals, and conferences around the world. If you want to hire us to stage one for your organization, see here for more details and how to get in touch.
A huge thanks to the amazing community of people that continue to come out to be a part of this event every year. We’re so proud of what a diverse, joyful celebration the Mp3 Experiment has become. As silly as the project is, it’s life-affirming to be in a crowd of strangers, all smiling, laughing, and working together.
Participants started out by blending in and walking on the sidewalks on 6th Avenue, 7th Avenue, 39th Street, and 40th Street.
Narrator Steve asked participants to give high fives to people not wearing headphones.
Participants were instructed to treat cracks in the sidewalk like a tightrope.
We very excited to work with the Garment District Alliance to activate their new pedestrian plaza. Just a couple of years ago this block was choked with car traffic. Now it’s a great public space for all. Hopefully one day all of Broadway will be like this, creating a Broadway Linear Park!
The plaza had three large sculptures by artist Joy Brown. Steve asked participants to bow down before the sculptures, creating a very unusual site for those walking by.
Here’s a great video a passerby took that we found on Instagram:
View this post on Instagram
In the “movie simulator” section of the event, participants were asked to act like the music they were hearing was a soundtrack to their own movie. They were told the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man was approaching from Times Square and they needed to Ghostbust him.
There were several 15-second dance parties throughout the event.
Participants pointed at various things around the plaza during the “I Spy” scavenger hunt instructions.
Everyone was told to bring an 8.5 x 11 inch piece of paper and a pen. Participants were instructed to find a partner and draw them. Instead of showing their partners the drawing right away, they mailed them to them. Each participant brought a self addressed stamped envelope for this purpose. There were blue mailboxes right on the plaza to make it easy. It was fun to get a letter in the mail a few days later with a hand drawn picture of your self and signed note from the artist.
Participants all brought a trading card to trade with another participant. If you didn’t have any trading cards, you were encouraged to make your own. The MP3-Kachu card someone received really made us laugh.
Participants were told to make paper airplanes with an additional 8.5 x 11 inch piece of paper they brought. Then everyone threw them at the same time.
Narrator Steve explained that his favorite way to get around any big city is by bicycle. He asked the crowd to surround both sides of the Broadway bike lane and give high fives to the cyclists. We had someone wonderful volunteers from Transportation Alternatives who biked by at just the right time.
To celebrate the 18th edition of the Mp3 Experiment, Steve asked everyone to throw their hats in the air on the count of 3.
Participants were asked to spread out in the plaza and organize themselves by color, ROYGBIV style.
In what is becoming a new Mp3 Experiment tradition, we asked random participants to volunteer to be the Dance Captain by stepping up on a concrete block at the southern end of the plaza and leading the rest of the mob in some dance moves. If you haven’t seen our classic Dance Captain Wanted video, check it out.
The Mp3 Experiment ended with a “bubble finale.” Participants brought bubbles with them and everyone was told to blow them on the count of 3. Some people had some pretty impressive bubble makers.
Tens of thousands of bubbles rose over Times Square as the event came to a close.
To find out about future Improv Everywhere projects be sure to sign up for our Mailing List (select NYC events if you want to hear about participation opportunities in NYC).
We regularly tour The Mp3 Experiment around the world to places like Berlin, Germany and Adelaide, Australia and to college campuses in the US like UNC and Texas Tech. If you’re part of an organization (festival, conference, university student activities board, arts group) that is interested in commissioning an Mp3 Experiment, get in touch via our contact form. Here’s some more info on our touring version.