Embarking on villainous terrain isn’t the only surprise to come with Taylor Swift's "Blank Space" video. Fans can now engage with an app created around the story and never-before-seen extras the star pulled for the experience.
Helmed by "Blank Space" video director Joseph Kahn and created by Radical Media, the "American Express Unstaged Taylor Swift Blank Space Experience App" allows fans to dive beneath the linear video and unlock secrets in the mansion, follow minor characters and hunt for 41 collectibles that shows fans never-before-seen photos and more from Swift’s life.
Over the course of three days in September, Swift, Kahn and Co. decamped to Long Island's Oheka Castle and Walworth Mansion in Saratoga Springs, NY to put together a complex and one-of-a-kind experience that is as much about the singer exploring unchartered territory for her image as it is providing new and fun features for fans.
"In the app, it’s non-linear in that you can be in any of the rooms whenever, but it’s done in linear time," explains Kahn. "It’s like a stage play." Encouraged to watch the linear video first, fans can then choose to experience the "choose-your-own-adventure" version of the video from the home screen. The video starts up again, but users can choose to either follow Swift and her fictional beau, played by male model Sean O’Pry and handpicked by the singer, or explore the universe outside of just their story.
"Taylor and [Sean] can’t be edited, but you as the audience can look around as much as you want," details Kahn. "You have to watch the whole thing unfold essentially like a piece of theatre." The video is reminiscent of the interactive MacBeth-inspired play Sleep No More, where audiences walk around the rooms as the play unfolds, choosing which characters to follow or scenes to watch in full over several hours. In "Blank Space," three other minor male characters also have stories available to follow as the protagonists fall in and out of love on the premises.
Immersive and connected to the user’s relation to space, the app moves with the user if they were to spin or move their bodies while holding their smart phone or tablet. While listening through headphones, noises move with the location of the user in a virtual room.
Created with superfans in mind, the experience is addicting and filled with treats for those wanting to feel even closer to Swift. The clocks are changed to include Swift’s lucky number, 13, and a record player features a record by her grandma, Marjorie Finlay. Pictures of her cats and younger self are scattered throughout the rooms and placed in journals or albums. Updates and more features to unlock are expected to be added within a week of the app’s release to appease the more rabid of fans who may find all 41 collectibles within days of downloading the experience.
Available for free, the app can be downloaded directly through Google Play or in app stores. No Internet connection is needed to use the game, but the app does link to tour details and behind-the-scenes videos. "She’s the smartest artist I’ve worked with in 20 years of making music videos," muses Kahn. With the way tidbits of her life are scattered across the game, her engagement with fans may be the most seamless and immersive, even when she’s singing about an idea of herself rather than the real Taylor.