Saturday, March 14, 2009

Social Perception Experiment: Violinist in the Metro

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning.
He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace.
He collected $32.
When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it.
No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.

Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?
"My additional thoughts would only be that so many people do things because they are "fashionable" that they forget to look at things with their own eyes, listen with their own ears, and appreciate anything with their own hearts."

Ode to Jem

Jem is like a genius guerilla pop infiltrator with awakening positive tunes. Featured in the trailer of Reaper is the song "They" (Live) which has stunning lyrics for a pop song. She's from Wales and parodying Kylie Minogue stripping in the space-womb in this vid me thinks, and approves!

Jem - They (First vid here)
Who made up all the rules? We follow them like fools.
Believe them to be true, don't care to think them through.
And I'm sorry, so sorry. I'm sorry it's like this.
I'm sorry, so sorry. I'm sorry we do this.
And it's ironic too cause what we tend to do
Is act on what they say and then it is that way
And I'm sorry, so sorry. I'm sorry it's like this.
I'm sorry, so sorry. I'm sorry we do this.
Who are they? Where are they?
How can they possibly know all this?
Do you see what I see? Why do we live like this?
Is it because it is true that ignorance is bliss?
Who are they? Where are they?
How do they know all this?
And I'm sorry, so sorry. I'm sorry it's like this

Her first album was called "Finally Woken", on it is the surely Bill Hicks' inspired "It's just a Ride".

Jem: It's just a Ride

It's just a ride, it's just a ride
No need to run, no need to hide
It'll take you round and round
Sometimes you're up
Sometimes you're down

It's just a ride, it's just a ride
Don't be scared
Don't hide your eyes
It may feel so real inside
But don't forget it's just a ride


Jem: Finally Woken (Lost video)

You see I've finally woken from a long sleep
I'm ready to jump, to make that blind leap
Coz I now believe (grr ;p) I have the power in me
I've got the faith baby I can truly be free

Jem: 24 (Ultraviolet video)

And I can't believe how I've been wasting my time
In 24 hours they'll be laying flowers on my life, it's over tonight
I'm not messing no I need your blessing
And your promise to live free please do it for me

Is there a heaven a hell and will I come back who can tell
Now I can see what matters to me it's as clear as crystal
The places I've been, the people I've seen
Plans that I made start to fade
The sun's setting gold thought I would grow old
It wasn't to be

Jem: It's amazing

All that you can do, now it's up to you!