Follower is a service that provides a real life follower for day. You sign up, download an app, and wait. You don't know when it will happen. The following lasts one day. At the end, you are left with one photo of you, taken by your Follower. The Follower stays just out of sight, but within your consciousness.
This is an ongoing performance. I am currently the only follower, but there is a place on the site for other people to apply to be Followers. I performed this first in San Francisco, the birthplace of the "human on demand" services, and continue to provide the following service in NYC.
What is the relationship between attention and surveillance? There are sites you can go to to buy online followers, $10 can get you 1000 followers. We have this intense desire to be seen, to feel connected. But is that desire really fulfilled by watching your follower count tick upward? Could a real life follower provide something more meaningful or satisfying?
With the advent of ubiquitous camera placement, NSA monitoring, Google tracking, and any number of other practices, there is little doubt we live in a surveillance state. And yet through the Internet we continue to engage with faceless followers to assuage an intense desire to be seen. How do we reconcile these competing concepts? Follower flips the interface of app and user to renegotiate these relationships and find optimism in what cultural pundits have deemed a doomsday scenario.
Video in collaboration with David Leonard. Design in collaboration with Michelle Lin. This work received support from Stochastic Labs and NYU.
Credit for images 4+5: SITUATION #128, SITUATIONS/Follower, installation view at Fotomuseum Winterthur, 2018 © Philipp Ottendörfer