Not So Fast

March 4, 2008
Posted by Jay Livingston

Old joke: A turtle mugs a snail. The police finally arrive and ask the snail about the crime. “I don't know,” says the snail, “It all happened so fast.”

I missed this post by Jessica at Scatterplot last week. Two hundred people (is it really that many?) go to Grand Central Station and all freeze in place at the same time for five minutes. Jessica sees it as a large-scale “breaching experiment.”

Me, I’m not so big on breaching experiments (“Let’s do some weird shit and see how people react,”). I don't find it ennobling to think that the chief intellectual forebear of social psychology is Allen Funt. And as with Candid Camera, I usually find the gag itself more interesting than the reactions of the naive victims. So to my eye, the Grand Central video is worth watching not so much as sociology and more as art (broadly defined). Which is what its creators – Improv Everywhere – intended.

Here’s another of their gags – Slo-Mo at Home Depot. They do the freeze thing here too, but pay attention to the slow motion early in this excerpt.

Getting back to the turtle and snail. The video is really a demonstration of relativity. Look at this speeded-up version of some of the early scenes.

The Improv Everywhere “agents” who were in slo-mo now look like they are going at a normal pace, and the regular customers are running around frantically.

Everything is relative.

You can find a full account and more video at the Imrprov Everywhere site.

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