This is one of those things I avoided writing about because I assumed everyone had seen it, but a quick poll reveals that very few of my friends have. It’s best watched without preconception or explanation, so first off, here it is (click the four arrows for full-screen):
Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.
It’s fascinating to read the comments on this, over at Digg or Vimeo. Those that respond most strongly to it often have no idea why – some find it hilarious but aren’t sure what the joke is, others cry and have no idea if it’s happy or sad. A few of us have been talking lately about how every time you travel, you come back slightly dismayed at how small and repetitive your normal life is. This is a sharp smack of that, but I consider it a good thing. If it makes us feel bad, it’s a bad feeling we need. It’s a spur for change, experimentation, or just a cool holiday.
It’s a particularly good thing for America, where supposedly 23% of the populace have a passport. Matt Harding doesn’t evangelise about it much, he just says “it’s important to know what the world looks like.”
That’s in a series of talks he did about the 2006 video (the one embedded is his third). Listening to a lecture given by a man whose claim to fame is dancing badly in a multitude of countries sounds unappealing, but I did it anyway and was riveted. It’s a travel diary, mostly – turns out five seconds of bad dancing isn’t the whole story of his visits to each of these countries. And the notion of getting paid – as he was the last two times – to tour the world and jig like a six year-old is magnficent.
Matt was a game designer. He wanted to make a game about animals in balls that smack into each other, but Microsoft shifted their focus to games about killing people. He said they could make a game where you’re aliens trying to wipe out the human race. His publishers said “Yes!” He said “I was kidding.” His publishers green-lit the game. Matt left a while after. That game is Destroy All Humans; it came out in 2005 and got 9/10 in Stuff magazine.