Arcade Fire's interactive debut 'Just a Reflektor'

"Just a Reflektor" start screen (Courtesy the artist)

It's been over three years since Arcade Fire released their critically acclaimed record The Suburbs. Recalling "The Wilderness Downtown," the short film they had built for a "We Used to Wait" off The Suburbs, the Canadian indie-rock band have an exciting multimedia experience ready for the song "Reflektor."

Last Monday, the band released a video announcing the debut the title track off the forthcoming Reflektor. The video ends with an image with what is assumed to be Reflektor's album art along with text that reads "9/9 9 p.m. (9:30 Newfoundland)".

After several leaks — and subsequent takedowns — the website justareflektor.com is up and running, with a video of the same name, featuring the song "Reflektor"... and it's remarkably engaging.

Going to the site (using the Google Chrome browser) users are prompted to also visit g.co/af on their mobile phone or tablet and enter the 5-digit code displayed on their computer screens, effectively linking the phone/tablet and computer.

What ensues is a tethered audio and video experience that reacts based on the positioning of your smartphone (or mouse, if you're without a compatible phone). In various scenes, you control beams of light, which seem to morph into a style of marionette strings on the video's protagonist.

Near the song's climactic peak, users see a shattered mirror (a reflector, get it?) with messages in reverse displayed on the phone. It's simultaneously creepy, embarrassing and awesome.

Quick Instructions

  1. Using the Google Chrome browser, go to justareflektor.com
  2. Click the 'Start' button
  3. If prompted to let the browser use your camera, click the 'Allow' button
  4. If you have a smart phone (iPhone, Android, Windows phone) or tablet (iPad, Galaxy) go to g.co/af
  5. Type in the 5-digit code from your computer screen onto your phone or tablet
  6. Hold your phone/tablet with the screen facing the computer screen (if nothing happens, you might need to move it closer to the screen.)
  7. When the music/video start, control the visual highlights by moving your phone around.

(If all that is too complex, you can achieve much of the same effect by using your mouse.)

About the Video

The project was directed by Vincent Morisset and Aaron Koblin. Morisset explains the concept and execution of the video:

I didn't want to transform the phone into a remote control or a game pad though. I thought it could be more interesting if the phone became a source of light. Give the illusion that we have a small video projector in our hand, beaming images on the computer screen surface. There was a desire to recreate something that feels analog and optical. Bringing back the visceral pleasure of playing with a flashlight, a prism or shadow puppets.

Again, by a strange coincidence or synchronicity, Arcade Fire was recording at that time a song called Reflektor. It was the perfect fit thematically!

The lyrics became the foundation of the project. For me, this song is a quest for truth. A metaphor about representation and identity. I thought about Plato's Cave. The actual interaction was now part of the message. We created an invisible wall in the physical space. The spectator on one side, the protagonist trapped in the screen on the "other side". Fiction and reality colliding. This was also another thing I wanted to explore. Combine documentary style shooting to an imaginary world. Create a clash between the first interactive half of the clip and the end where the spectator is invited to let go.

The video was shot in Jacmel, Haiti, and stars Axelle 'Ebony' Munezero as the protagonist.

Pro-Tips

Morriset also sends this pro-tip: "One thing I really like to do is to put the film on pause (by clicking spacebar) and to continue to play on the frozen image. Specially fun in the zombie scene..."

Want to dive deeper into the world of Reflektor? Loop and adjust the parameters for each scene below:

Scene 1: Mask

Scene 2: Dance Movement

Scene 3: Beach/water

Scene 4: Video grid

Scene 5: Sillouhette feedback

Scene 6: Mask/Mirror

Scene 7: Broken Mirror

Does "Just A Reflektor" live up to your expectations? Break down your opinion of the new Arcade Fire single in the comments section below.

Alternate video

Not willing to rest on their high-tech laurels, Arcade Fire also released a "regular" video too:

View on mobile device

The album Reflektor is due out Oct. 29 on Mercury Records.

Resources

Related Stories

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  • Theft of the Dial: Arcade Fire Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire stopped by the Current studio for another edition of Theft of the Dial. He brought a playlist and shared his DJ skills before the recent Arcade Fire show at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium. We also talked about our shared love of The Price is Right.
  • Arcade Fire live: Monday, Oct. 28, at 9 p.m. CT Arcade Fire played Capitol Records studios in Los Angeles on Oct. 28; the eve of their highly-anticipated 'Reflektor' album release. With their recent announcement of live shows throughout the country,you'll want to hear this incredible hour-long show, (Sun. Nov. 17 at 10 p.m.) including an amazing tribute to the late Lou Reed.
  • Arcade Fire debut 'Afterlife', rock The Colbert Report Following a radio debut at BBC Radio 1, and a subsequent radio rip that keeps surfacing, Arcade Fire have released a lyric video for their new single 'Afterlife.'

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  • Arcade Fire debut their title track off the forthcoming <em>Reflektor</em>.
    Arcade Fire debut their title track off the forthcoming Reflektor. (Courtesy of the artist)

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