Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hope That Something Pure Can Last

This is what they will play for you on your deathbed, like the old man in Soylent Green watching the film of flowers before he's wheeled into the processor to become snack crackers. (Did I lose you, kids? Look it up.)

Indie band Arcade Fire, in cooperation with "some friends from Google," have showcased the capabilities of HTML5 with director Chris Milk through the website The Wilderness Downtown. Type in the address of a childhood home (or any address for that matter) and wait a bit. Provided you grew up in a suburb, the film will aptly reflect the title of the band's latest release, The Suburbs. (Is there something about Canadian bands and their obsession with subdivisions? "Any escape might help to smooth the unattractive truth," I suppose. Look it up.)

Having moved around quite a lot as a child, I watched it several times using different addresses. The birds cast shadows over your neighborhood and the running child can be seen from the birds' view on high, running down your old street. As he/she spins on the wet asphalt, the scene in front of your old house begins to spin. It's like a dream, honestly, up to the point where the film asks you to write a letter to your childhood self, which I found to be an overwrought stretch. I was enjoying a journey, not looking for a therapy session.

The video, as far as I can tell, is only viewable in Google's Chrome browser, and it's a little clunky. Even still, it's worth it. But believe the warning: "This film is processor intensive. Please shut down other programs and close unnecessary browser tabs. Doing this will enhance your viewing experience. Thanks."

Is it a clever promotion for Google's Chrome, still slow to be adopted after two years? Is it a smart publicity piece for Arcade Fire's new music? Is it a showcase for the capabilities of HTML5? Yes, yes and yes. What's more, it's a hauntingly beautiful piece of art, it's a good (and catchy, damnit) song, it's an unexpected trip into your childhood, and the lyrics recall an innocence that will make you nostalgic for the time before "the flashing lights settled deep in your brain."


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  • Chrome I am pretty sure was Googles response to the threat to it's existence by FireFox. I have a client who shares her site traffic with me and has a 29% FireFox rate viewing her website. All those browsers not only can block all digital ads, they also block Google Ad Words/Ad Sense which is their cash cow. No ad blocking software with Chrome.

    I am going to check it out, html5 supposedly solves a lot of flash issues affecting system performance and battery life of portable devices.

    By Anonymous Howie, at August 31, 2010 at 8:43 AM  

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