Canadian rock band Arcade Fire has, with American director Chris Milk, produced a work that will stand with Michael Jackson's Thriller as one of the greatest innovations in the short history of music videos.
The online video for the song We Used To Wait, begins with a request: "Enter the address of the home where you grew up." The video starts with a night-time image of a teenager in a hooded sweatshirt, running down an empty, dimly-lit street. It could be any suburban street in North America. Lead singer Win Butler sings "when the lights cut out, I was left standing in the wilderness downtown."
Now, the street, courtesy of Google Maps, becomes your street. Viewers see images of their own childhood homes. The memories evoked by the song trigger immediately.
The full experience, to be had via thewildernessdowntown.com, is that most special kind of art - the uncompromising vision of its creators, but popular, in the pure sense of that word, inviting its audiences to fill in the vision with their own experiences. The age of digital and social media will only create more opportunities for such bold, democratic art: Arcade Fire and Mr. Milk have created one of the age's first masterpieces.
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