By John Thio & Zai Muhd
The SuperTrees seemed unaffected by the humid weather as trails of people began filling up the gardens. The unsuspecting crowd seemed oblivious to one another but it was just a matter of time before anything would happen.
Time check: 5pm.
(This writer took the liberty of joining in the fun; by plugging in his headphones for a more firsthand and realistic experience)
A voice begin speaking into everyones ears. It was as if they were in a virtual playing room, and everything around is make-shift yet surreal. Hundreds of people seemed to be synchronised, emulating the same actions at the same time. The clueless people grew in numbers, amused by the unusual acts done by so many at once. If one had an observant eye, one would also notice that everyone had an earpiece on. Welcome to the MP3 Experiment.
The MP3 Experiment was the brainchild of the pranksters from Improv Everywhere New York. The Hidden Good saw how incredible it was and brought it to Singapore. Seen as a potential to bring strangers and friends together, and add a bit of chaos to the usual order, the Hidden Good brought it to Singapore in 2010, and modified it a la Singapore Kindness Movement.
Done in a flash-mob fashion, participants loitered around several areas of Gardens by the Bay and waited. Prior to the event, participants were to download the instrument MP3 track onto their devices, and then play it on 5pm. (Interesting fact: the starting point for the experiment were divided in according to birthday months. The rationale behind this was seen later- as the various points congregate together at a final central location.) The track then guides the listeners through a series of actions. From curling your body into a ball on the floor, to freezing on the spot, and even treating oneself to a therapeutic self ‘tai ji’, participants did it in front of the confused but delighted audience.
Though the actions were awkward by itself, none of the participants looked uncomfortable. In fact, they actually enjoyed themselves! Everyone laughed at the absurdity of everything but carried on with a smile. By the end of it all, it was capped off with an invasion of selfies all around. Whether it was with a stranger or a friend, participant or not, cameras were snapping everywhere just be a mere shout of “SELFIE TIME!”. Amidst all the peculiarity, there was a total lack of care over a person’s status, race or gender etc. An entire group of people (Singaporeans and foreigners included) came together and displayed a sense of camaraderie that despite a lack of familiarity between one another.
Whether or not this experiment was a success in proving that Singapore is a compassionate and benign society, the jury still remains silent. However, it does not deny the fact that everyone ended the event beaming. Ergo, this writer thinks that it was a job well done from the team behind The Hidden Good.