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What the whole world looked like -- for a minute

By Tom Foreman, CNN
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Global art: The Simultania Project
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Artist Erin Cooney asked people to send her videos from the same minute
  • The concept project will be exhibited around the country
  • Over 300 people submitted videos of activities -- from the mundane to the sublime

Venice, California (CNN) -- Listen carefully on the beach in Venice, California, and you might hear the sounds of the world wafting from Erin Cooney's place.

"This is from a woman in London, who filmed her grandmother's old, out of tune piano. She played it. She just started improvising, and it's eerily beautiful," Cooney said as she played the video in her home office.

It is one of more than 300 videos, shot by strangers during the same minute -- at 11 a.m. on November 11, 2010.

"This is a woman in Montreal who just filmed her two kids, and they're going for a walk with her dog," she said smiling.

Cooney calls it the Simultania Project.

"I wanted to see what it was like to experience the world through their eyes. That's it."

When she posted the request for submissions on her website she wasn't sure anyone would respond. But the link was passed around, some media outlets picked up her story and the videos began pouring in.

They range from the mundane to the sublime. Fans at a soccer game, a woman riding a bicycle, a man hiking and singing. And a lot of videos of household chores.

"Look at this woman -- she's sanding. Isn't that great?" Cooney said about a women sanding paint off her house. "And then I got a guy over here mowing the lawn. And oh, this one. I think is really beautiful," she said about footage of a person unloading a dishwasher.

Some people submitted workday activities. Others went for adventure -- like boating.

And, as you might guess, there were a lot of pet videos, especially of cats.

"Maybe the cat people are more introspective because I got so many," Cooney said. "And yet, I'm a dog person. So I don't know."

Her favorites are quiet moments -- horses eating their breakfast or a man's young son fast asleep.

"I don't know this person. I could walk down the street, and I wouldn't recognize him, and yet he shared this very intimate, beautiful thing with me," Cooney said. "And I think it's lovely."

Yet from the hunter in his tree stand, to the socialist at a party meeting, they all serve a common purpose.

Cooney hopes to assemble the videos and exhibit them online and in several cities. She hopes they will give viewers a better sense of the world. Of what a planet of seven billion people are doing, simultaneously.

"What surprised me was the fact that people didn't think I was crazy, that people wrote to me saying, 'I've thought about these things. I've thought about this,'" she said.

CNN's Katie Ross, Oliver Janney and Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.

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