Concept Video: 'Wilderness Downtown' Puts Your Street View in Arcade Fire Land



Web-heads are somewhat abuzz over this for its clever interactivity, but how will music lovers respond to the immersive Arcade Fire experience as designed by video director Chris Milk + Google? Kind of a nifty idea: You go to the "Wilderness Downtown" website, put in your childhood address and out comes a moody vid that vibe-wise, is somewhere between Donnie Darko and The Dark Half. Or alternately, faceless, hooded-sweatshirt-wearing kid pounds rainy pavement in the suburbs, with accompanying sweller-of-a-track "We Used to Wait" from the band's latest; flocks of birds swirl overhead. (Has anyone else been as inundated as I have by online ads for this record? Inescapable.)

It's alternately really cheesy and totally neat-o seeing said address incorporated into the song's brooding bombast, though, if, like me, you grew up somewhere pretty small-town-ish, you might get the message that there's not enough data to create the experience from your technical childhood address and you have to go with something more recent. (There's even a feature that asks you to speak to that childhood directly, and I could fool around with the tree-branch procedural drawing tool all day.) Still, it was just as amusing seeing my current locale spun 'round in dramatic complicity with the anti-sprawl. (More info on how it's done here.) Again, it's a bit cheesy — when watching the video someone remarked that 14-year-olds would eat it up — but it reinvigorates the medium, to be sure. Worth the time-waste.

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