Time After Time #004: The Wilderness Downtown

A very interesting, ‘personalised’ video made by Chris Milk for the Arcade Fire song We Used To Wait. The video mixes Google Maps and Street View images of your childhood home with pre-recorded elements.

http://www.thewildernessdowntown.com

This is billed as ‘A Chrome experiment’ and there are all sorts of fascinating, geekily technical, Web 3.0 things going on I’m sure, but from our point of view the key aspect here is the slightly jarring disconnect between what these images are supposed to represent and what they are actually of. Although the song’s lyrics and the setup for the video seem to make it quite clear that this is all to do with the place where you grew up, Google’s images of that place will be, at most, only a couple of years old. What you’re seeing is your childhood home now, not the memory of what your home and neighbourhood were like when you were a child.

This isn’t supposed to be a criticism, by the way. The way the images are used still gave me the visceral feeling I think I was supposed to get, and there’s all sorts of weird things happening with the contemporary, publicly accessible images crashing into your own very personal memories and then Milk’s virtual world literally bursting through both of those. I doubt of any of it is accidental either – “Now our lives are changing fast”, indeed.

(N.B. The site claims it will only work properly in Google Chrome but apparently it will also run, though maybe not quite so well, in Firefox, Safari or other HTML5-capable browsers)

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2 Responses to “Time After Time #004: The Wilderness Downtown”


  1. 1 Anup Wednesday at 7:30 am

    Saw this at the weekend after seeing Arcade Fire at Leeds festival. Fantastic concept of pulling in Google’s mass of data to give you a personalised video, amazing song too!

  2. 2 Nathaniel J Miller Friday at 12:50 pm

    Thanks Anup, I totally agree!


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