Subtle Mob

13 10 2009

Flash Mobs used to fascinate me. Using technology as a way to organise groups of people in real time to act in a subversive way as a means to communicate a message or create spontaneous artistic messages.

A flash mob just a few years on is no more spontaneous than a waiting for a train at the station. You know one will come, you’re fairly certain about when, and the people who take part are not creative. It’s almost a routine.

I’ve gotten wind of a ‘Subtle’ flash mob. I dont know what that means, but at least they are admitting that it is planned and more like a theatre performance.

Sign up here to participate or check it out at least on the day:

November 12th in London

A ‘subtle’ Flash Mob?




One response

13 10 2009
duncan speakman

Flashmobs are inherently outward facing, they often create visual spectacles that gain a larger audience on YouTube than in the physical space they occur, hence their rapid appropriation by advertising companies.
‘as if it were the last time’ (the name of this subtle mob) is essentially a soundwalk, (a mixture of narration and music heard on mp3 players) for a mass audience listening simultaneously. I’ve been making soundwalks for a few years now and it was always interesting to me how cinematic the world around you can become while listening to the right soundtrack, mundane moments of the everyday become powerful poetic scenes. Recently I’ve been working with performers to stage these scenes of the everyday while audiences drift through the city listening, the actions of the performers ( a couple holding hands for example) are essentially invisible to anyone else walking past , but for the audience hearing a story about a couple deciding whether to have a child, the scene becomes the embodiment of what they hear in their headphones. I’m in love with the bleed between the staged and the real that happens in the public space during these shows, sometimes audiences never see the actual performers but map the stories they hear on to passers by.
I’m also interested in the way mobile technologies are very good at connecting us to remote locations but they also distance us from our immediate surroundings. So the idea with these soundwalks is that the audience pays more attention to the world around them (possibly a slightly feel-good naivety on my part).
The shift towards this ‘subtle mob’ idea for me is quite simple,
‘why not get the audience to perform for each other rather than using actors?’ – that way the listener can reflect on the scenes they see both at a distance, and then first hand as they are asked to recreate them for themselves.
A perfect subtlemob should be redundant on youtube, the actions so subtle (a ha!) that a film of it would just appear to be an everyday street scene.
And somewhere deep down I really just think I’m trying to make a beautiful piece of music that soundtracks the city, I’ve got the luxury of working with some amazing musicians and directors to make the content.

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