07 October 2010

The Video Connection

In the end, I blame Michael Nesmith.  The quixotic son of the inventor of liquid paper and former Monkees band member invented the music video and started the company that eventually became MTV.
MTV announced itself to the world when I was a freshman in high school.  Over the last three decades, I never cared much for the other programming on the MTV network, but I did watch the videos.  In particular, I have fond memories of the early Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing” and A-Ha’s “Take on Me” videos.  Over time, the videos have evolved, with some breaking more ground than others.
Recently, the band Arcade Fire changed everything with their new interactive video, “The Wilderness Downtown”  This video was released in conjunction with their new album (I guess I’m old enough to call new music releases “albums.”) “The Suburbs.”
The video exists on the internet and prompts the viewer to enter the address of the house they grew up in before viewing.  After an address is entered (from just about anywhere in the world), the video begins to play, and incorporates Google Earth images of that address into the video as Arcade Fire’s song “We Used to Wait” plays in the background.
As with Michael Nesmith’s ground breaking “Elephant Parts,” Arcade Fire’s “The Wilderness Downtown” is not flawless, but it represents such a leap forward that any discernible shortcomings are quickly forgiven.  In particular, the video imagery relies (in part) on Google street views.  If you enter a street address that Google has not driven down, there is less material to work with.  With respect to Columbia, Google has street views of all major roads and some collector roads (think Cradlerock Way or Phelps Luck Drive).
What is also interesting is that the viewer quickly realizes that although the intent of the video is to bring the viewer back to his/her childhood, any address can be used.  I found the video using the Wilde Lake Village Center address (10400 Cross Fox Lane) interesting.
One last word of caution.  This video is resource intensive.  Make sure you use a broadband connection.  “The Wilderness Downtown” can be experienced here.
If you find an address that is particularly cool to view, please post it in the comments section.