I like Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
That’s why, several months ago, when I learned he was coming to do a show in Bailey Hall at Cornell, I committed to waking up early and facing the failing web servers to buy two of over a thousand tickets that were to sell out in less than half an hour, making the show the fastest to sell out at Cornell in a while. And I only bought two because that was the limit per student — by the time I got through to the webpage only balcony seats were left.
I know the actor, who goes by Joe and is often called JGL or Jo-Go-Lev by fans (or so I’ve heard), from his roles in the films (500) Days of Summer, Inception, and more recently Looper (I haven’t seen The Dark Knight Rises or Lincoln yet, but he can be seen there as well, and I’ve been told he was good in 50/50). Viewers from an earlier generation would recognize him from the television series 3rd Rock from the Sun, but I’ve never tuned in to the show myself. Earlier this fall, when my friends and I were joking about how good Jo-Go-Lev looks in three-piece suits and how we wished we could afford to do the same, someone sent me a link to a video of the celebrity on a stage somewhere with a guitar, where he got laughs from the audience and played some songs. That was when I first heard of hitRECord, an “open collaborative production company” that creates music, artwork, videos, and stories to share around the world through the Internet. After watching that short video, I must admit that I wasn’t inspired to learn more about the group, and it wasn’t until the organization’s mastermind came to Cornell that I looked into it further.
Above is an example of a video someone put in hitRECord’s Tiny Stories collection, many of which (including this one) were shown during Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s show a week ago. The crowd seemed to enjoy them, the abruptness with which the little sketches ended causing a sort of surprised laughter at the cutesy oddness of it all. Although this may not have been the case with the video above, the idea behind hitRECord is that one person could enter the basic concept, or script, of the sketch on the website, someone else could draw the scenes, a third person could put the scenes together in an animation, a fourth could narrate the script, perhaps some music could get thrown in the background, and then others would take the time to edit the “final” product.
This sort of collaboration in art and story-telling, not all that different from what my peers created here this summer, seems a fun and inspirational way to share online, especially since it is open to everyone and not merely a repository for videos, the way YouTube, Vimeo, or other sites are. It is a site for working together, revising and rethinking concepts to then broadcast via books, albums, videos, and, as JGL hinted during the show, a TV show.
A very quick search on the site with key terms like ‘environment’ and ‘conservation’ comes up with no hits of what I would call a work with an explicit — or even provokingly implicit — message, but maybe I have to dig deeper. Or, maybe this is where hitRECord could use some new contributors. After all, my friend/housemate Erik and I made the animation below, and will be putting music to it soon. This whimsical flip-book that we made for friends, of course, has no message whatsoever, but it could be the start of future projects we might pursue. And we’ll be sure to hit record when we do.
If you are interested in learning more about Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s show at Cornell, here is a relatively ambivalent review by the Cornell Sun, and an hour-long video of much of the evening.