Music Videos gone Interactive: Success or failure?

Why we aren’t seeing more interactive music videos?

Music videos have always facilitated experimental art because there is an existing script, soundtrack, and tone to work with.  The music provides an existing creative framework which heavily narrows the focus to production.

What’s not successful about the music video platform in interactivity?

I explored these five unique pieces (that each explore a different method of music video interactivity) to find some answers:

1.Ellie Goulding “Lights”

-User-navigated environment, emphasis on visuals

2. Arcade Fire “The Wilderness Downtown”

-User-stimulated environments, emphasis on bridging gap between “Arcade Fire” and audience

3. Cold War Kids “I’ve seen enough”

-User-controlled instrumentation, mild usage of interesting interactive visuals

4. Chairlift “Met Before”

-User-controlled narrative, emphasis on story, no interactive audio/visuals

5. Red Hot Chili Peppers “Look Around”

-User-controlled narrative, engaging content, many options to choose from

While most of these music videos had limited use of interactivity in some way, RHCP’s “Look Around” really engages with the viewer by making there ample options of things to play around. Allowing the user to scroll between four videos, each starring one member of RHCP doing something silly, gives enough footage that we don’t lose interest.  Hidden in each video are highlighted items you can click to see personal footage of band members just being, well, human.

With the five music videos above, the interactive waters have been tested and my diagnosis is that we need to make these videos more interesting, via more content, more interaction, or more narrative.  My favorite pieces were Chairlift’s “Met Before” and RHCP’s “Look Around” because the narrative pulled me in–and after all, isn’t that what makes a music video successful? Great music is what gets you a video, but it’s not what makes a video great.

Video has always been about telling a story, and you can’t engage with your audience without one.  Cold War Kids “I’ve seen enough” impressed me with its creativity, but gave me no reason to stick around for the whole song after I’d worn out the interactive capabilities.  Ellie Goulding’s “Lights” was awesome for about 30 seconds, but then I lost interest after I realized I’d be seeing nothing new if I kept playing.

Maybe as this technology becomes less fresh, we’ll start seeing some real blockbuster interactive music videos. Until then, I’ll just enjoy this one:


Oh Hey Blog, I haven’t forgotten about ya

Yikes-it’s been a while since I’ve posted!  To be honest, I’ve been a bit busy with my own interactive work!  After finally *conquering* the sadistic world of arrays, I made my first video game ever using Processing, an interactive platform and coding language that is basically a more art-oriented version of Java.  It’s a raindrop game where you have to “catch” raindrops with the mouse before they hit the end of the screen.  While it’s not my original code (its from Daniel Shiffman’s ‘Learning Processing,’ which is absolutely a fantastic tool), I did manage to make the raindrops way prettier and create some gravity to add more of a challenge.

 I can’t wait until I learn how to reference external videos and images! It’s going to be sick. Over the next month I will FINALLY be learning the “cool” stuff–videos, imaging, advanced object-oriented programming, converting to html, and translating to Java, C++, iPad apps, etc.

So stay tuned.  As soon as I get to the point where I can put some stuff online, you can bet I will.  In the meantime, new interactive art showcasing to follow…

Biomodd: A Living Game Computer as Social Structure

Biomodd is “an open source and co-created art project fusing computer waste and living biology. Essentially, Biomodd creations are computer systems with living ecosystems inside of them. Taken together they form a global art project challenging presumed notions of opposition between nature and technology in different cultures.” (Biomodd).  It can be built and improved upon by anybody since it has an open source license.  Pretty cool huh?  Watch the video below for a close up sneak peek.

Source: Biomodd

Mercedes-Benz Creates Invisible Car!

Simply using LEDs and a Canon DSLR, Mercedez-Benz was able to create a virtually “invisible” car by displaying the camera’s view onto the LEDs. Really neat stuff.

Interactive Website of the Week: Ana Somnia


This interactive website is the coolest, freshest thing I’ve seen in a long time.  It uses a webcam to detect levels of light in your room, and once you turn off the lights (assumedly to go to sleep) your character’s head explodes with dreams.  Don’t cheat though–or you might wake up in the middle of your REM cycle.

Here’s a visual walkthrough, but if you’d prefer to be surprised click here to experience it firsthand.








And if you turn on a light (or in my case, moved your hand from blocking the webcam):




And you’re back to square one.  I believe the dream sequence enters some kind of varying loop after a while.  Try it out the next time you’re feeling like an insomniac.  This was made by Rostlaub, a company that “combine[s] art, design, music, and state-of-the-art programming in a way you have never seen before.” That’s true. I’ll definitely be checking out their site again.

Source: Ana Somnia

Years by Bartholomäus Traubeck


A record player that plays slices of wood. Year ring data is translated into music, 2011. Modified turntable, computer, vvvv, camera, acrylic glass, veneer, approx. 90x50x50 cm.

A tree’s year rings are analyzed for their strength, thickness and rate of growth. This data serves as basis for a generative process that outputs piano music. It is mapped to a scale which is again defined by the overall appearance of the wood (ranging from dark to light and from strong texture to light texture). The foundation for the music is certainly found in the defined ruleset of programming and hardware setup, but the data acquired from every tree interprets this ruleset very differently.

Thanks to Land Salzburg, Schmiede, Pro-ject Audio, Karla Spiluttini, Ivo Francx, vvvv, Rohol.

Thanks to Mark Kuykendall

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