The band Arcade Fire teamed up with Google to make an interactive video that features satellite photos and Street View shots from an area designated by the user, presumably centered around his or her childhood home although there's no way to regulate what address is entered. (We did not grow up in Times Square, above.) The project is called "The Wilderness Downtown" and was directed by Chris Milk, who has also worked with Modest Mouse, Kanye West, U2 and Green Day.
The video begins at dusk with a shot of its "star," an unidentifiable, sprinting hooded figure. As the music plays, browser windows open and close revealing both the figure and the neighborhood from different angles. Users are invited to write a postcard which is then animated, and the video ends with shots of the neighborhood overrun by computer-animated trees. The song is "We Used to Wait" off of the band's latest album, "The Suburbs," which was released early this month. Though it's far from perfect, the video is still captivating. And, of course, words pale in comparison to the actual, resource-intensive experience.
The project relies on the feature-rich HTML5, the latest version of the Web's standard markup language which Google has been touting in conjunction with its Chrome browser. The video is also the latest of Google's "Chrome Experiments," which showcase the capabilities of HTML5.