Interactive Music Video Blurs Line Between Art and Hacking
We’ll be honest: when it comes to interactive music videos, we like to experience everything first hand, even if – as in this case – that involves allowing them to hack into our Facebook accounts, reading and interpreting data released by us on social media platforms, posting things on our behalf and basically committing what most people would call a pretty serious “invasion of privacy”.
Yet, the latest interactive experience for Alb’s “Whispers Under The Moonlight”, directed by Casper Balslev, genuinely left us feeling paranoid. Would promoting and sharing the video even be ethical?
Well, if you’re feeling daring and don’t mind your computer being temporarily hacked by what seems to be an artistic Trojan virus, this is the point where you should stop reading and simply proceed to the Whispers website (you might also want to refrain from checking the vid’s terms and conditions, as they contain some spoilers as well!)
If you’re feeling some doubts, never fear, we’ve made a walk-through of the whole process.
Firstly, you’re asked to download a file to your computer. For those of you that are concerned about randomly downloading files to your computer, it’s important to stress that the file here is as safe as it can be – given it will hijack your computer. Once, unzipped and launched (unless your Mac doesn’t somehow block this process! Yep, it’s known to happen!), you’ll be confronted with a local video player showing you a linear version of the promo.
Be aware that if your computer has a video camera, you will be recorded and photographed while watching the clip. The captured materials will be used to further retrace the relationship between yourself and the female character of the promo!
Once the video ends, all hell breaks loose as the following things happen (more or less simultaneously):
- Your wallpaper and screensaver are replaced with pictures of the promo’s female protagonist.
- A folder containing pictures of (you’ve guessed it!) the girl, is added and opened on your computer.
- If you’re a user of Outlook, Thunderbird or Apple Mail, you’ll receive a series of incriminating stalker-style emails signed Helen. If you’re not using any of these e-mails providers, don’t worry, you will not be missing out on the fun! A fake mailbox will be created and placed right on your desktop (the one now nicely decorated with Helen’s picture). Just search for the folder entitled “e-mail”. Be aware that two e-mails will also be received at a later date, as stated on the video’s website, though we haven’t gotten them yet!
- If you happen to be using a calendar app, dates of meetings with Helen will be added to it!
- Last but not least, if your computer is connected to a printer a picture of Helen will be printed!
Clearly, a lot of very invasive and dynamic actions over which the user has absolutely no power! The lack of interactivity and control are, in this case, frustrating and scary, making us question whether user engagement isn’t in fact a double-edged sword. Brilliantly, the Whisper website’s background image is that of a rocking toy horse, a clear reference to the Trojan horse the Greeks used to win the war against Troy. With this Casper Balslev might also be suggesting that the more we want to engage in this online environment, the more potential foes we let in. And we do so willingly!
These ‘enemies’ are easily removed once the application is deleted from the computer. Users are left only with the task of replacing their wallpaper and screensaver. The terms and conditions of Whisper offer quite a good step-by-step tutorials for these actions.
Yet the scare factor remains and so does the question of how far we will be prepared to go as part of the next interactive experience…