Monday, August 07, 2006

Crowd Psychology

Speaking of the hive mentality, the Wooster Collective has been documenting different examples of how choreographed large crowds shot from above are used in street-oriented advertising, such as pitches from a broadband company, beverage giant Coca Cola, Eastern European conglomerate Akbank, and the 1989 British Airways commercial that perhaps started it all. There is also the "Mad World" music video, inserted above, from Michael Gondry and music by Michael Andrews to add to this anthology.

Of course, these crowds are often created digitally, as was this ad from the SIGGRAPH electronic theater for Carleton Beer. Bruno Latour has included several reflections about representations of large crowds in his volume Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy (the mass games of North Korea, photographs of parliaments and scientific congresses, etc.). Learning about the technical constraints on representing these forms of assemby in virtual space at SIGGRAPH, if the agents must appear to behave more autonomously, was interesting in light of the issues that Latour raises.



Anonymous Ian Bogost said...

The Carleton ad and most of the new ones you see on the airwaves were created with Massive, the large-scale agent simulation software first developed at Weta Digital for simulating Orcs in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The software itself is very cool, and surprisingly simple to use. One question it raises in my mind relates to aesthetics more than marketing. When you have a large-scale agent simulator at your disposal, every problem begins to look like it needs agent simulations. So, I wonder if many of these specimens are less comentaries on or expressions of the historical notion of the crowd, and more nails for the proverbial digital hammer.

10:46 AM  

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