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The first thing I noticed when watching the premier of HitRecord on TV, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s latest artistic endeavor, is that everyone is recording.  Phones, tablets, hand-held cameras, all on and all pointed at the man on stage, JGL himself.  While everyone else and every other venue is discouraging recording, this show is encouraging it.

Gordon-Levitt and his brother began the website HitRecord.org in 2005, and since then have produced feature and short films, books, music, and now, a TV show.  And it’s one heck of a show.  If you loved the Tiny Book of Tiny Stories series, just wait until you see the show.

It’s a variety show but none like you’ve seen before.  It’s post-modern in nature, due to heavy use of multi-media formats and multiple users.  It’s crowd-sourced art, taken from ‘records’ contributed on the website.  Art of all forms is remixed and spliced together to form new art,  and the results are astounding.  Not only is it quality, but it’s heartfelt and cutting edge.

Every episode is themed, and that theme is looked at from various angles and perspectives. The every first episode was, of course, RE: The Number One.  The prompt for one collaboration for this show was titled “Do you remember your first time?”  First time meaning the first time you ever did anything.  A standout from this episode is a short film, mixed with animation and video of a story contributed by a writer in Nebraska, who narrated the first time she ever saw the stars in the sky.  Beautiful and soul-shaking, and completely unexpected.

There is nothing cliche or trite about this show, and I think that derives from the fact that it’s not just one person’s vision you see: it’s hundreds or thousands of artists, writers, animators, and other artistic folk who come together to create something new.  I think it’s a real testament to the artistic sensibilities of the creators that so many people worldwide have become members and contributors to HitRecord.  It’s nothing short of visionary.

I was lucky enough to get the box set from the publisher (Dey Street Books) and with the digital downloads comes lots of extras:  books for each episode, music from the show, and behind-the-scenes extras.  Season 2 is in the works, and there are open collaborations in production now.  I’ve been a member of the HitRecord.org family since 2011; fingers crossed that someday, something I contribute will be used.

The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories 2 might be small in size, and its stories might be short lengthwise (just two pages long), but these stories are long on imagination and possibility.

I like this book better than the first; the collaborative effort seems more cohesive, the stories more fantastic, the drawings more tender. Stories we invent in order to live in this world.

The genre of the short-short story (or micro-fiction) is so appealing; in our overly busy and technology heavy lives, we need tiny escapes from the madness. That is just what this collaborative effort does: gives us a break from the madness. In short-short form. Who has time for long reads these days, anyway?

I highly recommend this book along with Volume I. Volume III is already in the works, so if you’re a writer/artist looking for a great project to work on, check out the link. And get to RECording.

Tiny Stories II

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