Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Let me tell you about: iamamiwhoami viral videos

In late 2009, some mysterious videos began appearing on YouTube under the name "iamamiwhoami." I didn't discover them until the third or fourth (I can't remember) came to light, but once I saw one I was totally hooked. The music clips behind the visuals were what grabbed my attention - were they parts of a single song? An album of electronica? Were these ads for a new band? A PSA about saving the rainforest? I had no idea, but I kept watching. I'm a sucker for viral campaigns in general anyway, but this was eerie and disturbing and kind of gorgeous, and I wanted more.

The clips got an initial spike in attention when people started thinking that Christina Aguilera was behind iamamiwhoami. It sort of made sense; she was working on her Bionic album at the time and was rumored to be going in a different direction musically. And sometimes the woman in the video kind of sort of looked like her, although it was obvious the face was being digitally distorted. (For the record, I never thought it was her, but a lot of people were fully convinced it was.) The buzz became focused on the big reveal - who was it and when would he or she come out and explain what was going on? Even MTV blogged about it for a while, and the mind/s behind the campaign played along.

As more of the original set of six videos were released, it seemed more and more obvious that it wasn't Aguilera. Some supersleuths at Oh No They Didn't figured out that the singer was likely Jonna Lee from Sweden - a fact that as of this writing still has not been confirmed (although it's pretty obvious it's her in the videos at this point). But is she the one conceptualizing and writing the music or the story?

After the first cycle of six videos, which got progressively more detailed and more beautiful, was complete, a new series started. These were more fully formed videos with complete songs (including songs built around some of the clips from the first set) - songs that have found their way onto my iPod. If I was forced to describe them, I'd say they sound like Goldfrapp meets Stereolab meets electronica meets pop meets...I have no idea. I've never really been into categories, I just like what I hear. And what I see.

This one's my favorite.

I believe that the story being told in the iamamiwhoami videos is the tale of the Mandragora officinarum, which you can look up if you want to (I'm not going to get into my interpretations of these videos in this post, I just want you to watch them and make up your own mind). I don't know if the story is finished being told now that another series of six has concluded or if there will be a new cycle of six starting up in a month or so. (The first series featured a prelude plus six videos titled in code, while the second series featured seven videos titled with a single letter - U-1 and U-2 fell in the middle - finally spelling out the word BOUNTY.)

I also don't know if the minds behind iamamiwhoami are ever planning on explaining anything - who they are, why they're doing this, what they are trying to accomplish. I just know that finally there was new music that got me excited and a viral campaign that kept me on my toes.

I hope there are more videos to come.

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