I wasn’t going to post today – didn’t think I’d have time – but Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails (NIN) just posted something to his blog that is so exciting it’s put my stomach in a bunch. With the release of the new NIN album(s), Ghosts I-IV, he’s decided to have a film festival, openly inviting fans to take Ghosts I-IV and create something for YouTube with the music. Pinch me, I’m dreaming! It’s my standard modus operandi to use music as my starting point for creativity, but never before has a musician been so willing to share and encourage this behavior. (Okay, maybe some musician somewhere has tried something like this, but I haven’t heard about it.)
Reznor is looking for visuals for the album, and this exercise is meant, as he says, to move “beyond the typical one-way artist-to-fan relationship.” The one thing I have to disagree with about Reznor’s post is that he says, “We wanted to keep the canvas as blank as possible for you, hence the lack of descriptive song titles and the primarily textural artwork and packaging.”
Have you seen the photography that accompanied the album download? If you haven’t, take it from me, it’s stunning and highly evocative, each photo a story unto itself. One of the photos, my favorite, is a striking black and white shot of the silhouette of bedraggled trees. Many of the photos have an Ansel Adams quality, hardly the blank canvas Reznor and crew were going for. But this is merely a driveling complaint. The point is that a superstar musician has decided that his fans aren’t simply meant to keep change in his pocket, but we are, instead, collaborative equals that have something important to add to his creative process. That’s beyond stratospherically cool.
Time to put on my thinking cap and figure out how YouTube works.