Clouds Over Cuba appeals to a broader audience than history or politics scholars: the archive project sucks you in with a whole host of extensive historical material and interactive media. Directed by Erich Joiner and Ben Tricklebank from ToolofNA
and co-developed with the martin agency, the easy to follow iDoc looks back at the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962, on behalf of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, a presidential library administered by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Besides its tweet clout, Clouds over Cuba has gathered an international (the web is international, right?) award from Awwwards for its web design.
In an apparent ludic hint to gaming levels, the project lets viewers—automatically—”collect items” in four of the used mixed media, as the video progresses. This mix lends the project its interactivity as the historical events unfold: “expert commentaries” (short interviews with experts), authentic sound clips, historical documents and some fantastic black and white photographs. As the film plays, a hovering mouse reveals a timeline at the bottom of the screen. A red dot on the October 1962 timeline indicates “expert commentary” on the event in question. Users can choose to dive deep into the coverage of the subject by clicking the red dot or simply keep watching the film in linear fashion.
The film itself follows a chronological line. As such the user has little control over the main video element, except for DVD-style options of skipping chapters and sub-chapters. Unlike DVDs, the web film remembers where users left off last, where we can resume on our next visit.
Here is wishing we had learned something from the 60’s: “War is out of date” reads one of the non-US street slogans.