I'm playing an interactive music video for Taylor Swift's "Blank Space" and I'm doing everything I can to avoid Taylor Swift. I already have a pretty good idea what she's going to do — I saw the linear video already — so what I really care about is following around the artist whose painting gets ruined as the song progresses. Or maybe the snoopy butler. Or the clumsy gardener. Or maybe I just want to hang out in the big dining room and just see who waltzes in and out. Something feels very off about the layout of this house and it's starting to mess with my mind. I should probably just stay in the dining room and let people come to me.
This is the Taylor Swift Experience, available starting today as a free app for iPhone / iPad and Android, and it's the best version of Myst starring Taylor Swift. As Swift moves throughout the house with the unfortunate boyfriend du jour, lip syncing the lyrics all the while, you can explore each of the six rooms for Easter eggs (e.g. a book called My True Loves which is actually handwritten lyrics and polaroids of her cats). There are 40 collectibles in all, each numbered 1 through 41 (the number 40 is inexplicably skipped). No idea what you get if you collect them all. Each room is captured in 360 degrees, controlled via touchscreen or accelerometer (no, there's no Oculus Rift support).
The whole piece is a collaboration between the artist and RadicalMedia as part of American Express's Unstaged series (which up to this point has typically a live concert; a rep from AMEX tells me they'll be trying out this new approach with other artists in the future). The whole thing was shot in tandem with the actual music video using Hex cameras. (The music video's director, Joseph Kahn, also served as director for the app.) And if you haven't seen the linear, non-interactive version of "Blank Space," that's available on the app, too.
As soon as the song is over, so too is the experience — everything is choreographed to "Blank Space," and, to be honest, I'm probably going back in to try and find all the other collectibles. If it takes more than five tries, though, I'm gonna have to mute my phone. Look, it's a catchy song but I... I can only listen to the same thing so many times.