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Remembering the Immersive Environments of Michael Jackson

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Tali Krakowsky, WET Design.
Tali Krakowsky, WET Design.
This week it is impossible to ignore the death of Michael Jackson. And when I think about Michael Jackson it is impossible not to think of "Billie Jean." And when I think about "Billie Jean," it is impossible to forget Michael Jackson's interactive brick road.

In memory of the King of Pop, here's a look at the immersive environment of "Billie Jean"--Michael Jackson's 1982 music video, directed by Steve Barron.

We all know that Billie Jean is not his lover but the plot of the video is strangely different. It is about a paparazzo following Jackson through a magically interactive cityscape.

We are introduced to an interactive pavement that is animated by Michael Jackson's movements:


An interactive trash can lights up with the touch of Michael's foot:


Michael's shoulder activates a column:


Which turns out to be a smart, interactive surveillance system that is able to activate a state-of-the-art Polaroid camera when triggered by the bad guy:


Escaping through an interacting staircase, Michael's movements are not only tracked by the stairs themselves, but also the "HOTEL" sign beside him--something so intriguing that he takes a moment to examine, even in the midst of a chase...


Finally, as in real life, Michael Jackson magically evaporates, but the city continues to sense his presence...

Be sure to watch the music video again. It's worth it.

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Tali Krakowsky, Director of Experience Design, heads a think tank at WET. Working closely with design, research and production, she focuses on developing new ideas, technologies and business opportunities for the short- and long-term future of the firm.
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