Mp3 Experiment Nine

Mp3 Experiment Nine

More often than not the best photos I get on a shoot are not the ones I went looking for, but the result of something better landing in my lap.

One day this past July I took the ferry to Governor’s Island, hoping to get some good shots of the ferries that carry visitors to the city’s new favorite playground. After arriving on Governor’s Island from Brooklyn I promptly boarded another ferry to Manhattan, intending to come back to the island but wanting an opportunity for more ferry images. While then waiting in line for the boat back to Governor’s Island I suddenly found myself in the middle of an excited, cheering, and headset-wearing mob. Apparently I’d stumbled upon some sort of happening.

I followed the crowd on to the ferry, then off again at Governor’s Island and into the island’s interior fields. Suddenly everyone began moving in unison, apparently responding to instructions on their headsets. When participants pulled out white sheets, put them over their heads, and started walking around like a huge throng of ghosts, I began shooting as fast as possible. Fortunately I’d reloaded my camera after disembarking from the ferry, so I was able to make a half dozen exposures before the sheets came off and people moved on to the next instructions. I elected to go my own way at that point, but was hopeful I’d gotten some good photos.

I subsequently learned that the event I’d stumbled upon, billed as “Mp3 Experiment Nine”, was organized by Improv Everywhere, a New York City-based prank collective that, in their own words, “causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places”. For this event participants (around 4,000) were instructed to bring an MP3 player (with instructions downloaded) as well as a loaded water gun, a shower cap, a white bed sheet, a hard flat object, a small soft object, and a small musical instrument. At 3:00 PM everyone pressed play on their devises and, for the next half hour, followed a series of instructions from “Steve, The Omnipotent Voice from Above” that culminated in a massive water gun fight. You can watch the Improv Everywhere video of the event here.

Here are a couple of the photos I took:


Recently, while digging around on Flickr for photos of the event, it occurred to me that I might find a shot of myself in the crowd. Sure enough, in a collection of images by Arin Sang-urai, I found one showing me hunched over my tripod.

© Arin Sang-urai Photography, 2012


  • Alethea Fitzpatrick on Dec 01, 2012

    This is great – beautiful captures from being in the right place at the right time!

  • Andy Marino on Nov 30, 2012

    Very cool! Your images, although “stills” continuously convey motion & time… moving thorough space.
    Maybe better defined as “moments” in time.
    Great work!