Exhausting a Crowd – Netherlands (2015) brings together our respective fascinations with surveillance and online public commentary. The project is inspired by a 60-page piece of experimental literature by Georges Perec entitled “An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris,” which he wrote on a bench over three days in 1974. In the text, Perec studies the mundane crowd with empirical discipline and takes down notes, brief lists and descriptive reports. Likewise, Kyle McDonald is interested in the actions of random passersby and invites the public to visit the website www.exhaustingacrowd.com to write down their comments on the online surveillance footage streamed there. Unlike a park bench, however, the Web is no place for silent contemplation. In contrast to Perec’s meticulous work, the commentary of an online audience quickly mutates into a distracted haiku. The comments are brief, and the overall result depicts a strange dynamic between personal intention, chaos and serendipity. For the digital native, a taste for surveillance is no longer an ethical issue but rather a source of entertainment.
Coproduced by De Brakke Grond, IDFA DocLab and V2_. First commissioned by the Victoria and Albert Museum on the occasion of the exhibition All of this Belongs to You. Design and website developed in collaboration with Jonas Jongejan. Video by Daan Kuys.