Video from Improv Everywhere’s Sixth Annual Mp3 Experiment. Over 2,000 people of all ages downloaded the same mp3, pressed play at the same time, and had a blast together. This event took place In New York, on Roosevelt Island, a thin strip of land in the middle of the East River.
If there’s one problem with Luminato, Toronto’s annual festival of arts and creativity, it’s that there’s just too much to do. But through a schedule crammed with cool stuff, some of the super-cool stuff manages to emerge. Like this year’s Luminato Mp3 Experiment—the kind of wacky, weird, and totally unique event that defines Luminato.
“It’s part challenge, part exercise, and part scavenger hunt,” says Allison Saretsky, Luminato’s Interactive Marketing Manager. Basically, the Mp3 Experiment sees participants downloading an mp3 file to their phone, iPod, or other mp3-listening device, showing up to a predetermined location (in this case, the base of the CN Tower or Clarence Square, depending on when in the year you were born), and synchronizing their watches. Then, at the right time, they activate the file and begin following the instructions of “Steve,” their virtual guide who moderates the experiment. Participants are also asked to wear red, yellow, blue, or green shirts, to help identify them in the event that Steve asks them, for example, to hug the closest person in a yellow shirt.
“Steve takes you through warm-up exercises, building into group exercises that people will do as they walk through downtown Toronto,” explains Saretsky. And it ends in a dance party. It’s also fun because, depending on when participants start the experiment, they may lag a few seconds behind. So a few hundred people are totally harmonized, while whole bunches of others fall out of synch. And everyone else walking around, witnessing all the madness, tries to figure out exactly what the hell they’re watching.
Invented and scripted by New York-based “prank collective” Improv Everywhere (who organize flash mobs, pantless subway rides, and other activities designed to make life more fun), the Mp3 Experiment has been held in cities across the U.S., as well as in Berlin, Adelaide, and other locations throughout the world. They’ve even been to Toronto before, but Luminato 2011 marks the first time an event has been customized for the city. During a 2009 experiment in NYC, the New York Times’ David Pogue took part, describing it as “part mass hypnosis, part party, part comedy club… like a political rally, but with more to do.”
Like the best Luminato experiences, it’s hard exactly to put in to words. Suffice it to say that the Luminato Mp3 Experiment sounds undeniably cool.
You can find more information, download the mp3, sign-up for the event on Facebook and more through Luminato’s MP3 Experiment page right at http://www.luminato.com/mp3