Simon Farid: Week 5 - The Quantified Visitor

Posted on Feb 16, 2015 by Simon Farid  | Tags: Simon Farid  | Comments (0)

As promised, over the last week Lily and I both carried out performances at BALTIC in which we covertly triggered the visitor counters numerous times, in the hope of adding additional visitors to BALTIC's totals and thus securing the future public funding. 

Without discussing how we would report on these actions, we both wrote reports about our performances. Mine is here: 

  • __________________________________________________________

  • Counting Babies
  • BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. Lima Golf 3. Monday 9th February 2015
  • Begin performance with counter on: 239
  • Phase 1: 12:38 to 12:41
  • Audience: 1 woman.
  • Walked in and out of the room: 5 times.
  • Phase 2: 12:43 to 12:46
  • Audience: 1 woman, 3 men
  • Walked in and out of the room: 7 times
  • Phase 3: 12:48 to 12:52
  • Audience: 2 women, 7 men
  • Walked in and out of the room: 8 times
  • End performance with counter on: 311
  • Added: 22 people.
  • Earned: £1.25
  • __________________________________________________________

And here is documentation of my hand, on which I noted down all of these numbers during the gaps between the different phases of the performance:

Lily's report was pretty similar, if more detailed: 

  • __________________________________________________________

  • Sunday 1st February 2015.
  • Counting babies.
  • Lily Mellor and Simon Farid.

  • 17:24
  • Begin performance on Level 5.
  • Audience number is currently at 0.
  • Visitor counter in the doorway to public stairwell is currently at 963.
  • I walked in and out of the doorway 14 times. At first, I tried to do it without the door slamming shut and managed this 10 times, but the door was too heavy and was putting pressure on my wrists. Also, I wasn’t able to get full movement whilst jarring the door so only my legs were moving in and out of the Level 5 space and not my entire body. I felt like this was cheating a little. For the remaining 4 times, I closed the door behind me so that it could act as a definite boarder between stairwell and gallery. Sometime between the 10th and 13th time, three visitors came into the space via the third scenic lift.
  • 17:31
  • Pause performance on Level 5.
  • Audience number is currently at 3, and 3 overall.
  • Visitor counter in the doorway to public stairwell is currently at 977.
  • Total number added by me is 14.
  • 17:37
  • Resume performance on Level 5.
  • Audience number is currently on 6, and 9 overall.
  • Visitor counter in the doorway to public stairwell is currently at 993.
  • I made sure to take longer this time and I added another 20 visitors. I decided to do it in fits and starts, just in case something in the space needed my attention: I thought I better keep checking and not spend too long pre-occupied. Occasionally if someone spotted me performing then I’d look around in the stairwell to pretend I was checking up on something. I didn’t know if this was the right thing to do or not, as I hadn’t really considered whether I wanted visitors to be made aware of my performance. So I did pretend but not extravagantly enough for them to wonder what I was checking up on or to hold their attention.
  • 17:52
  • Pause performance on Level 5.
  • Audience number is currently at 0, and 17 overall.
  • Visitor counter in the doorway to public stairwell is currently at 1013.
  • Total number added by me is 20 + 14 = 34.
  • 17:59
  • Resume performance on Level 5.
  • Audience number is currently at 0, and 17 overall.
  • Visitor counter in the doorway to public stairwell is currently at 1015.
  • I was running out of time, the gallery officially shut at 6 and soon I would be joined by other staff members to help lock down the building at the end of the day. I added the remaining 6 ‘visitors’ to the counter. There were no visitors on the floor and it was unlikely that any more would be coming, so I took advantage and walked in and out of the door more vigorously. I thought you might have been able to hear the slamming of the stairwell door echoing down Core B but in actual fact it must have had a stopper on as it closed over really slowly and didn’t have even close to the desired, dramatic effect.
  • 18:01
  • Finish performance on Level 5.
  • Audience number is currently at 0, and 17 overall.
  • Visitor counter in the doorway to public stairwell is currently at 1021.
  • Total number added by me is 20 + 14 + 6 = 40.
  • The total number of visitor numbers on each counter need to be halved by the end of the day, before they are reported to LG1. This is because the counters count both the entering and exiting of each visitor, counting as two, when they are only in fact one.
  • I had added a total of 20 visitors to Baltic’s daily visitor count and earned £2.95 whilst doing so.  
  • __________________________________________________________

Lily earned more money for her performance, despite me adding more visitors. I'm not sure this is right...

Following these performances we met back at the studio to discuss our experiences, and more importantly whether these performances were a worthwhile exercise. Our thinking, remarkably similar despite being developed in isolation, was that these performances were probably too clean; that they addressed our initial intension of performing unregistered yet provoking a cultural impact a little too well, leaving little room for any more worthwhile exploration in its current form. 

In light of this, we looked to extract any interesting themes that had emerged in spite of this rather too tied up end. We agreed that the two areas that seem to warrant further investigation are this thought about quantified engagement and potentially the act of performing to surveillance machines, particularly machines that quantify something. This could be approached as 'quantified performance', performance that interacts with, and performs to, quantified self technologies. 

Lily and I will continue to investigate these themes during the rest of my time here, so expect more reports on this. But more immediately, Constance Humphries, the previous resident artist in this studio, will be visiting me over the next week to discuss her own approach to unseen performance. More soon.


Comments (0)


Add a Comment



Allowed tags: <b><i><br>Add a new comment: