exploring the collective behaviour of Hackney Wick


Crowd Control is a month long interdisciplinary experiment creatively exploring the collective interactions between individuals, groups and their environments.

By connecting visual, digital and performance art practices with contemporary scientific research, law and urban design, Crowd Control will explore human communication, cooperation and collective action in Hackney Wick, East London.

Running at arebyte from 30 June until 23 July, the project is a collaboration between artist Heather Barnett, curator Nimrod Vardi and behavioural scientists Dr Andrew King and Dr Ines Fürtbauer, joined by specialists in performance, law and urban design.

The team will create experiences, experiments and interventions that explore how groups move together, transfer information, make decisions and respond to changing environmental conditions. Playful and exploratory, the games, activities and events explore the control mechanisms that affect collective behaviour. Data and imagery generated may, in turn, feed into the development of interactive artworks and scientific studies.

Focussing on creative engagement, Heather and the team will work with local groups and wider participants, exploring unspoken communication systems and motion dynamics, hosting mass participation exercises and observing the language of gesture on the streets of Hackney Wick. Devised activities take inspiration from a range of control mechanism: the collective dynamics of nonhuman groups, such as shoaling fish and flocking birds; how the law impacts on our behaviour in conscious and unconscious ways; ecological cooperation and competition; and the processes of gentrification and the emergence of culture. All of the events explore the complex patterns of human behaviour in imaginative and inquisitive ways. The residency will culminate in a public Crowd Control Festival (21-23 July), a weekend of exhibitions, experiments and explorations at a range of venues and sites throughout Hackney Wick. Check our events page for details of individual events and booking information.

The team welcomes collaboration with local groups, residents and venues.

Contact the team if you’d like to collaborate or sign up to the mailing list for the latest info on public events.