Transmedia Storytelling – Episode 5/5: Johnny Cash


Episode 5: A visual testament to the memory of Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash is a singer, guitarist and a country music American songwriter. He is also known for his rock and roll, rockabilly, blues, folk or gospel style. He built his career on his very deep voice and his lyrics echoing the themes of sorrow, moral affliction and redemption. His attitude on stage and his dark clothes, has earned him the nickname of “The Man In Black”.

The Johnny Cash Project

The Johnny Cash Project is a tribute project to the life of the artist who passed away in 2003. The director of this project, Chris Milk (American director and also creator of the project The Wilderness Downtown, Arcade Fire), big fan of Mr. Cash, wanted to pay him a last homage by creating a “visual testament”.

The project consisting in cutting frame by frame his last music video “Ain’t No Grave”. A video from his latest album of the same name which mainly deals with the mortality, resurrection, and everlasting life. Everyone can choose a single image of the video, redesign it as pleased according to their own inspiration and personal vision of Johnny Cash. This image, then, will be inserted into a collection of images redrawn by fans all around the world. Strung together and played in sequence over the music, they will create the homage video. An evolving tribute since this living portrait of the Man In Black will continue to change and grow as the fans will add pictures. The video is virtually never the same, images change each time it is played. It is a living and always moving tribute to the legendary Johnny Cash.

With its black background and white text, the website is in perfect harmony with the spirit of the last album of Johnny Cash. Moreover this project fits into the theme of eternal life with this tribute that endures over time. We can also speak of “virtual resurrection”, since even on the other side, Johnny Cash is still talked about. The album, once again, deals with mortality, resurrection, and everlasting life.

So far, more than 250 000 fans from 172 countries were involved in this online project to build the last video of Johnny Cash. This project is not a simple project. It is a powerful tribute to the man who in our hearts and minds touched us with his talent, his passion and indomitable spirit.

A different project, more humane

Unlike the other projects that we discussed in the articles on the Transmedia Storytelling, The Johnny Cash Project does not call for any commercial or marketing strategy. This project is purely a tribute that involves fans of a very active community, which is only intended to perpetuate the spirit of Johnny Cash, for it to remain forever in our memories.

Here is a non definitive version of the video “Ain’t No Grave” made by fans:

Intro: What is Transmedia Storytelling?
Episode 1: Nine Inch Nails
Episode 2: Jay Z
Episode 3: Gorillaz
Episode 4: Arcade Fire
Outro: How to revitalize the music business?