Arcade Fire: On Reflektion

just a reflektor break free

It’s a music video, but it only works on your computer. Scratch that, it only works in your web browser–that is, if you are using Google Chrome and have a web cam AND have a smart phone handy.

This is Arcade Fire’s latest ‘Chrome Experiment,’ which they are promoting in advance of their new album, Reflektor, slated for an October 29th release. Similar to the interactive site introduced before the 2010 album The Suburbs, requires input from the viewer for the video to work. In 2010, the viewer entered the address of the street they grew up on at and the music video incorporated Google Streetview images from the address into the video. This time around, the band takes the interactivity to the next level.

Once a user clicks the start button on the site, they must grant Arcade Fire’s site access to their personal web cam as well enter an individual code on a landing page on a smart phone which they are then directed to hold up to the web cam to calibrate the ‘reflector.’

It’s a unique experience to be sure and relates well with the theme of the song. They lyrics point to disillusionment with technology and a culture that promises ever more connectedness:

I thought I found the connector
It’s just a Reflektor

Now the signals we send are deflected again
We’re still connected, but are we even friends?
We fell in love, when I was nineteen
And now we’re staring at a screen

During the course of the video, the viewer can use his or her smart phone as a reflector to manipulate what is happening on the screen, including the speed and direction of the dancers, where the lighting is pointed (or reflected) and what part of the screen is in focus. For me, the most moving part of the experience was that I was continuously tempted to turn my phone around to see what was happening on the screen for two reasons. One, because I was holding my phone up to the web cam, the phone is consistently in the way of the video, leaving me to peer around my phone to see what is going on. Second, midway through the video, a mirror appears on screen and reflects your image back to you with the writing “Just a Reflektor” appearing on your smart phone screen. At this point, I was torn away from the video in order look at my smart phone screen—an effect I’m sure the artists counted on, since when you turn your phone around to look at its screen, both screens fade and read “Break Free.”

It’s well done and communicates its message—which in many circles has become passé—in a compelling and poetic way.

Watch the video and let us know what you think. (make sure to open in Google Chrome).

Arcade Fire Website/Reflektor Pre-order

‘Standard’ Reflektor video:

Other articles

Support Second Nature

Second Nature depends on the generous donations of readers like you.

Second Nature is published by the International Institute for the Study of Technology and Christianity (IISTC), a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to studying technology in light of the Christian tradition.

Your generous contributions make this work possible. Please consider donating today to help us continue this important work.

About the Contributor

Benjamin Robertson

Benjamin Robertson
Benjamin Robertson is a founding editor at Second Nature. He has worked in advertising for the Chicago Tribune and Gannett, and now is a web developer at Mediacurrent. He studied Communications and Media Studies under Dr. Read Schuchardt at Wheaton College in Illinois. He has presented papers on Marshall McLuhan, media ecology, and Christianity at the Media Ecology Association, National Communication Association, and the McLuhan's Philosophy of Media Centennial Conference in Brussels. He lives with his wife, Ruth, in Greenville, SC. His personal website is

Speak Your Mind


Support Second Nature

If you find value in the work we do at Second Nature, please consider making a modest donation. Every donation, no matter how small, is a huge encouragement to us in our work.