You’re aware that this is an ad for something, but you aren’t sure what. It’s not important. Relax and enjoy the show.
At the end of the video, a product shot and logo appear; this is, after all, a TV ad for an iPhone. But, obviously, it’s a lot more than that. Like most good ads, there’s no sales pitch, just pure, exuberant entertainment, using sound, movement and colour, – especially colour – seamlessly interlaced. And, it’s about possibilities: how joyous and exciting your life could be if you let go of your normal constraints – possibly more so, if you joined the throngs of people buying the new iPhone.
As architects and as participants in the urban environment, we can learn a lot from this brief display of magic. The cast of “Color Flood,” as the video is called, consists of very energetic people, many (most?) of them parkour experts, for whom urban form and space are just one big lavish gymnasium. And although their choreographed athletics exceed the skills of most of us, not to mention our sense of decorum and danger (kids, don’t try this at home), we can all aspire to be more active, inventive and enthusiastic in the way we use public space, and we can call on the designers of such space to rise to the challenge.
Urban spaces, even drab spaces like those that provide the sets for this video, are places that cry out for colour and human activity – not necessarily heroic activity – and we can all be participants, if we choose to be. Urban space is meant to be living space. What does it mean to be alive?
The heffalump referred to in the first line of the background music, Cosmo Sheldrake’s hypnotic “Come Away,” is an imaginary creature, dreamed up by Winnie-the-Pooh in A.A. Milne’s stories. Like unicorns and yetis, no heffalump has ever been found. But, as the Color Flood suggests, if you apply sufficient enthusiasm, a search can be its own reward.