Artwork #3: Follow Me If You Dare

by | Nov 10, 2017 | Artwork #3: Intervene



Materials needed:

Win condition:
The player wins if they successfully get at least one person to follow them as they cross the street alone, preferably when the traffic light is red.

In Follow Me If You Dare, the player starts at a traffic light with other people who are waiting for the lights to turn so that they can cross the street. The player should try to be the first one to start walking (only when it’s safe, of course) and try to get as many people to follow them as possible. If the player is able to get at least one person to follow them as they cross the street, they win; otherwise, they lose.

The first location we played at was the walkway across Huntington Avenue right in front of Krentzman Quad. It was almost 5 pm when we started playing, so there were a lot of cars but not too many students crossing. One thing that surprised me was how eager people were to cross the street: I was intentionally trying to be the first one to cross every single time, but someone would always cross fearlessly before me when I thought it was still too dangerous to walk out. Since this location wasn’t working too well and I wasn’t able to start the game properly most of the time, my friend who was filming suggested to try the large intersection on Massachusetts Avenue, because there were a lot of people going home from work on that street, and the traffic light was always red even after the cars stopped coming. Therefore, we went to try playing on the Massachusetts Avenue intersection instead.

The intersection on Massachusetts Avenue was a lot busier, there were more pedestrians crossing although most weren’t students, and there were more cars as well. There was indeed a long waiting time even after the cars had stopped to come. It was easier to get people to follow me too, since more people were looking down on their phones and blindly following the people in front of them, possibly because no one had to rush anywhere after work. Since people on the other side of the street could also see me, there was one time when they followed my move to cross the street as well. After all, the game played out very well on Massachusetts Avenue.

Follow Me If You Dare started with the idea to do something in the public space that involves people passing on the streets. Some of the inspirations came from The Yes Men and videos made by the YouTube channel Improv Everywhere, such as Frozen Grand Central and The Mute Button. I wanted to intervene with people’s daily life without letting them know that they were participating in a game. For example, in Waiting in Line for the iPhone X at a FAKE Apple Store by Improv Everywhere, people on the streets actually believed in the fake Apple Store and didn’t realize it was just a performance. A similar case would be the New York Times Hoax created by the Yes Men; they deliberately made the appropriated version of New York Times extremely similar to the original New York Times and had people dressed up as New York Times workers, which is why many people thought the news on the newspaper really happened.

As the role of the phone becomes more important in the society, more and more people keep their heads down when they are waiting, walking, or even crossing the streets, which had caused many accidents. This makes it more likely for them to simply follow someone in front and move with them at the same pace. Even if the person is not on their phone before they cross the street, they would still be more likely to cross after someone has taken the first step. I thought this phenomenon was very interesting, so I decided to base my project around it and record how many people unconsciously participated in my game without knowing it. I did want to add in more scenarios and test people’s herd mentality by setting up different scenes, but the fact that my project needed more than one friend to help me and that we only had one week to work on this limited my options, so I decided to mainly focus on the first idea.