Monday, May 25, 2009

Initial Reactions to the MP3 Event

Experiencing an Improv Everywhere event can vary depending on your knowledge of what is going on and what is yet to come. That fact certainly affected my and my family views when we settled down on the Riverwalk Commons lawn this past Saturday to watch MP3 Experiment 6. My wife and I had watched a number of videos from past “scenes” including past MP3 events. My young children had not. I purposely did not participate so I can experience the events with no preconceptions as best I could.

Seeing approximately 2000 plus individuals spread out from Blackwell House down to 425 Main Street in various primary colors was amusing. My kids commented that Red must be winning as they saw more red shirts that anything else. When the event started our kids were very amused. Not scared in any way thankfully. Although during the high five sequence one young woman did chase my 7 year old a bit and he was a bit confused but he had fun with it.

A young participant blogger, named Megan, wrote online today the following which I found most intuitive as most Improv Everywhere events seem to go for reactions of the locals. Here the locals were out numbered by almost 50 to 1 for the areas overwhelmed by “agents”:

“Since we were the overwhelming majority on the island on Saturday (participants were dressed in red, blue, green or yellow t-shirts with white undershirts), it didn't feel like we were putting on much of a show for the few bystanders around us. The few who were on the island and not participating got a lot of attention though, as there weren't enough of them to go around when we were instructed to "give a high five to a stranger" or "follow someone's every move who is not participating". In this respect I was a little disappointed with the overall dynamic of the event, because way back in 2006 when I watched the report on .mp3 experiment III there were far fewer participants than there were bystanders in Central Park, so the effect of having a "slightly too large a group acting together to be normal" as being surprising, suspicious or unnerving to more bystanders was significantly diminished. Though I imagine that to the handful of bystanders on Roosevelt Island an army of 2000 primary-colored people marching in silence across the island was pretty intense, this event felt very much like we were doing it for ourselves, rather than performing for the enjoyment of others.”

The pictures on Flickr (1,2,3,4) linked from the Improv Everywhere site are great.

A few comments I have seen and received. The Tram staff was almost overwhelmed as they were the sole direct exit to Manhattan from the Island. As the event started at 4:00 pm it hit during a Goldwater shift change and a few residents thought a greater PSD presence was needed for traffic direction purposes. I can’t comment as I never ventured South of the Riverwalk Commons.

I wonder what the 2000 plus visitors thought of Southpoint park and what their reactions would be to the FERI approved Louis Kahn design as the 360 degree views these folks enjoyed on Saturday would be quite different if the expected trees were in place. Since island residents overall are not a concern to FERI and the architects I wonder what these unbiased visitors would think. Too bad I could not conduct a snap poll but my kids wanted dinner.
Note: Link through the photos to the photographers Flickr page for that photo.


  1. You really had to mention the FDR memorial in every single comment you left on other people's blogs, didn't you?

  2. And what is wrong with mentioning the FDR Memorial in the context of an event which took place at Southpoint Park and benefited by the existing extraordinary views that will be destroyed by the Kahn/FDR Memorial?

  3. I did on Ms. Kalmoe's blog but I don't recall if I have mentioned it on every blog that I have visited. If I have referenced the 360 degree views and the planned trees I would hope I did so responsibly when it is a valid question to ask. If there is an occurence I have not done so responsibly please feel free to let me know.

  4. I apparently did reference the FDR memorial issue within a comment posted on Gothamist which featured the MP3 experiment. So my known count is now "two".