Each day, we pick out, at random, a person walking in the street.

We follow a different person everyday: We keep following until that person enters a private space (home, office, etc.) where we can’t get in or he/she is hit by a car and dies.



Following Bit is a performance that took place in Liberty City, the setting of Grand Theft Auto IV, between July 3 and July 25, 2013. Each day COLL.EO picked out a different a non-player character (note 1), at random, in the street, at different locations. COLL.EO - controlling a specifically designed avatar of Vito Acconci developed in collaboration with Iranian modder Amir Ghoreyshi - followed that character as long as possible, until he or she entered a private place – home, office, etc. – disappeared or died.

Following Bit is concerned with the language of virtual bodies in simulated public spaces, in this case Liberty City, a replica of New York City. By selecting a computer-controlled pedestrian at random, Coll.eo submitted their own will, goals, and movements to the will, goals, and movements of simulated beings, showing how our intentions are always influenced, sometimes subordinated, to external forces – e.g. bots and algorithms – that we may or may not be able to control. The following episodes ranged from a few minutes – for instance, when someone was run over by a car – to seven or eight hours – when a person kept walking. In all cases the following activity did not last more than a day (note 2).

The initial following performance was itself followed by a second intervention; in the course of the subsequent month, a tweet was sent each day by @colleoproject describing with less than 140 characters the particular details of the following episode that occurred the same day during the previous month.

San Francisco, August 30, 2013



1. A non-player character (NPC), sometimes known as a non-person character or non-playable character, in a game is any character that is never controlled by a player. In digital games, this usually refers to a character controlled by the computer through artificial intelligence.

2. One minute of lived time corresponds to one hour in Liberty City.



Photos: additional photographic documentation is available on COLL.EO's flickr page

Videos: additional video documentation in the form of excerpts is available on COLL.EO's video page.


The third video segment features Amelia Jones' commentary on Acconci's Following Piece from Body Art. Performing the Subject (1998). The quote is below:

"In 1969 and 1970, Acconci's exploration of masculine subjectivity took place through simple formats in which he took on the role of the aggressor - often, masochistically, against himself [...] In Following Piece and Performance Test (both 1969), Acconci sadistically inflicted himself on others - respectively through a literal act of stalking (by following unknowing people until they entered private space) and through the violent agency of the gaze (by staring at each person in the audience one by one). In all these cases, Acconci sets up a dynamic of aggression and victimization - with himself variously as victim or masochist (in Trademarks) and sadistic aggressor (in Trademarks, Following Piece and Performance Test). In all of these cases, such violence enables Acconci to discover or recover "himself" from the post-mirror stage self/other relation [...] The solipsistic nature of Acconci's exploration of the sadomasochist character of self/other relations in highlighted if one compares his Following Piece with a similar, but explicitly feminist, piece by Yoko Ono from the same year. [...] Acconci's strategic act of following is motivated, as he himself admits, by a desire to define himself through a relation with the other rather than by any need to explore the other from her or his own sake: "If I pick someone to follow, then I can be tied into this other person. I can be dragged into another person... [In Following Piece] there was no viewer or, if anything, I was the viewer. I see myself as the audience of people walking in the street." Here Acconci allows that what he really wants is to incorporate the other, to become the viewer, not to explore her/him in her/his difference. The other is nameless and genderless in Acconci's written account, serving simply as a "feminized" object of Acconci's following activity.” (Amelia Jones, Body Art. Performing The Subject, 1998, 126-127)