4. Public Intervention “If I Ran the Park”

For this project, the class had to work on a public intervention. Through many prototypes and many failures, our group decided to focus on making a crowd-sourced movie made by the people, for the people.

The Smiley Prototype

The Camera Crew Prototype

We had made other prototypes prior to the final crowd-sourced movie such as the Smiley Prototype where we tried to grab the public’s attention by displaying numerous smiley faces using blob detection and the Camera Crew Prototype where we tried to act as a camera crew and deliberately shoved cameras into people’s faces to document people’s reaction. But soon we realized these interventions were either too passive or too aggressive.

Union Square Park

By making a crowd-sourced movie, we wanted to grasp people’s notions of Union Square Park. Why we chose Union Square Park is because we thought it was a place that showed a lot of diversity and history of New York City. We also wanted to make full use of its liberal space. By holding interviews with people who frequently came to Union Square Park, we could better grasp the inner needs of change for the park. We wanted to use the public as communal knowledge.  We had no given author, director, or scripter. What we learned from intense interviews directly translated to our scripts. How people acted out each line was of their own choosing. We believed that if we worked together, we could create something fascinating.

Nickelback – Rockstar MV

Red hat and bowtie

We were greatly inspired by Dr. Seuss’ “If I Ran the Park.” The book is full of imaginations and provides great inspiration and motivation. Other precedents we looked at were the “Johnny Cash Project (www.johnnycashproject.com) and the Crowdsourced Fan Film of Star Wars Uncut. In the end, we wanted to go the direction of Nickelback’s Rockstar music video where numerous clips of people of all age and sex starred in the video each singing a phrase of the song. We grabbed a spot in the middle of Union Square and made people from all around the world say a line of our crowd-sourced movie. A red hat and a red bowtie were used to resemble the magician that summoned all the wishes of Union Square Park.

The whole public intervention project was very fun and intriguing. It was fun working with people I’ve never met with before. And most of the people of Union Square were very nice and some were even eager to be starred in the video. Regulars started greeting us as we were in the park very often throughout the project. The public started to find people who could participate in our video. We saw a lot of patterns people had in Union Square Park. Because the project was very intriguing, perhaps I would like to further work on this project in the future. Problems we could fix are the ambient noise created by street performers and random people. We could also incorporate more involvement of the public as a group rather than as individuals. Overall, though, it was a very fun experiment in working with the pubic and trying to intervene into people’s lives.

final video and our project blog can be found here

final presentation (pdf) of the project can be found here