Vito Acconci, 'Following Piece,' (1969) photo © Vito Acconci

Vito Acconci, ‘Following Piece,’ (1969) photo © Vito Acconci

The @Platea social media art collective is doing a cover of Vito Acconci’s seminal “Following Piece” (1969), which was first initiated forty years ago this month.

A study in the public spaces we occupy and assumptions around privacy, Acconci followed random people in Manhattan during the month and reported on their activities until they entered a private area such as an apartment or car.

When I asked artist, twitterati and director of @Platea, An Xiao about her latest project, she replied, “We want to look at it specifically in the contemporary context of Twitter, a world where public/private boundaries are shifting and eroding, as once private activities are broadcast into online public space. In the world of Twitter, the idea of following has taken on a new meaning: once an uncomfortable thought, it’s now regularly seen as a good thing to have one’s private actions followed by many strangers.”

From October 26 – 30, @Platea will perform, “Following Piece 2.0.” Acconci’s work will be enacted using the digital “stweets” to understand how the ideas in the original piece have been transformed.

Let’s just hope offline stalking laws, which have been enacted since Acconci’s 1969 performance, don’t apply online.

To learn more visit here or follow @platea on Twitter.

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.

14 replies on “Social Media Collective @Platea to Mark 40th Anniv. of Vito Acconci’s “Following Piece””

  1. So some art collective wants a bunch of people to follow its twitter feed. Fine. But that doesn’t mean it has anything to do with Vito Acconci.

    1. Acconci selected his followers without their consent or knowledge. Here, Platea is asking to be followed. That’s more like taking a walk in the company of others than being secretly pursued and observed, isn’t it?
    2. There’s not even that possibility of being followed in secret with twitter. At any point you can read through the list of your own followers.
    3. The fact that twitter calls subscription to personal newsfeeds “following” does not mean that its conceptually similar to Acconci’s act of following strangers. There’s no sense of transgression in following someone on twitter.

    This project is just business as usual in the world of twitter.

  2. Oh Mr. Guster, I appreciate your respect for Acconci’s work and desire to keep it “pure,” but I don’t think you quite understand @Platea’s project. This is not a call to follow @Platea (well, you can and should, but that’s not the point of the project). In fact, participants (which could include you) will be following others on-line in a variety of social networking (and other) sites. The project is designed to investigate exactly the similarities and differences in “following” digitally and IRL, including anonymity and the limits on such.

  3. I have similar problems with this piece to those I have with Ramsay Stirling’s (taken down?) portfolio of works like “The Internet Delivers People,” and 0100101110101101.ORG’s entire Synthetic Performances series ( This extends outside of twitter and media art though. Look at this trainwreck:

    I think I’d be more interested in artworks like this if they attempted to actually retcon the original work; better than rehashing or at best misreading at any rate.

    But it’s a pretty cute idea. Better than @tweetbomb

    1. Hey Artie – thanks for your thoughts here. I’d love to open up a dialogue after the performance, but something I do want to note is that anyone is open to interpret the performance as they choose. So if you wanted to participate in Following Piece 2.0, we’d definitely welcome your perspective and experience, and maybe you could even guest blog about it. Feel free to sign up at or just start tweeting with hashtag #fp20.

  4. Hi Thomson –
    The way it’s written above does seem to suggest following the collective, but that’s only for the purpose of signing up. You can actually sign up on the blog if you wish.

    I will be following people without their knowledge or consent. It might be on twitter, or it might be IRL. But the telling of the following will be on twitter.

    Hope that helps!

  5. Thanks for clearing that up, Christi. You’re right–I was just responding to the way the project’s been written up on this site.

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