29 July 2007

Discover (and Review): HBO's Voyeur Project


Tonight I happened to unwitting stumble across the vague interlacings that compose HBO's adventurous, dangerous, yet oddly admirable Voyeur Project, a very recent development/undertaking/entertainment experience/artwork that is tagged with the tenuous, come-hither one line about getting to see what people do when they think they're not being watched. Wittingly I came thither and what I learned was learned as it was designed to be: by gleaning, supposition, and immersive connection.
Indeed, the Project is a huge and intricate endeavour, a work that crosses media as easily as it crosses storylines. Various parts of the labyrinthine surreality - surreality, because that is exactly what it is: a strikingly quotidian yet still artificial layering on top of actual reality - have been broadcast, not only via television and the internet, but also via huge buildingside projections, surreptitiously circulated photographs and websites, promiscuously issued telephone numbers, and texts and dialogues of curious origins.
The Project broadly extends a tentacular reach; and, as I found out, anyone, who is piqued enough to grasp hold of one such tentacle, small though it be, and follow it where it lead, will certainly have already succumbed to thrall of the crescent shrouded mystery that is its root. Its many layered, almost surprisingly diverse yet nevertheless integrated consistency is quite a piece to behold, or rather to uncover; the trickle can pour into a great flood, well capable of taking the awed gaper by surprise, for so enthralling it may be that awed voyeur may find himself wet....

From the NY Times' blog: "But HBO Voyeur is exactly the kind of thing that people do want to disseminate haphazardly. At least in some sense, HBO Voyeur is an ad. Sure, the HBO marketing person told me, 'it doesn't look like or smell like an ad campaign.' Right when she said that, of course, it dawned on me, for the first time, that HBO Voyeur is an ad campaign. It's way too much like art to be entertainment!
"[...] When I asked to speak to someone at HBO about HBO Voyeur, no one from programming came to the phone. No Larry David. No David Chase. No David Milch. No David Simon. No David David. HBO Voyeur is a product of the marketing department!
"But what are they selling? I asked and asked. Maybe in the rooms in the film, if you look closely, maybe there are Altoids and Alli diet pills? No, said the HBO marketing woman. That is not how sophisticated marketing works now. 'HBO Voyeur is about underscoring what HBO already does, its special "it's not TV" magic — how many tentacles HBO has, how deep into your life it already penetrates. HBO Voyeur,' she said, 'is about retention.'
"Yikes. HBO Voyeur is a Project with a captial P — or no, wait, it's a PROJECT with all caps. So enter if you dare: HBOvoyeur.com." It can be disarmingly creepy/enchanting/beguiling/fun/X.

From the mysterious Project blog: "A lot of people are thinking - which is what I think this project is supposed to do - get people thinking about what it means to be a watcher in a world where everything is on display in one way or another."

(A tricky-wonderful experiment that adapts, updates, expands, and vixenizes the likes of Mr. Hitchcock's classic Rear Window (especially the storyline that occurs on 41st street); that clearly belongs to the increasingly popular group of artistically inclined ventures that I like to call "life installations;" that well articulates and wields the great power of art, to break through the dividing frame and capture the audience/viewer into it; I only regret of it its choice of music, that at several points I distasted for its dragging dullness, its pallour in contrast against the at-several-points rapier-sharp ability for [the largely juxtapositionally induced] transcendence of its visual partner. Though I have yet to experience the entirety of the Project, despite the music, what I have seen definitely drew me, to let myself be carried inward and under...at least for a little while...and always with one questioning eye asunder from the spectacle for the hands that lie behind it.)

Grade: B+

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