Lauren McCarthy


How many followers does a person need to be happy? In Follower, Lauren McCarthy uses a surprising way to tackle the current obsession to get increasing public attention on social networks. This artist, who studies human relations in the age of automation and the algorithm, has developed an unusual app which enables you to have a real-life follower. In other words, a person who will physically follow you for 24 hours. The candidate only has to answer two questions: “Why do you want to be followed?” And “Why should someone follow you?” Each time she accepts a request, McCarthy selects a random date and then begins to follow the candidate. There is no contact or interaction between them. As a reward, the artist sends the person a photo at the end of the day. The work of McCarthy, originally from Los Angeles, analyses the constant desire for attention in the contemporary world, in which most Instagram accounts are public. Thus, why do we really want so many followers? Does this need respond to an insecurity or is it an excuse to build -and exhibit- a more interesting life?

Born in USA, McCarthy examines social relationships in the midst of surveillance, automation, and algorithmic living. Lauren is the creator of p5.js, an open source programming language. She is Co-Director of the Processing Foundation, a non-profit whose mission is to promote software literacy within the visual arts, and visual literacy within technology-related fields. She is an Assistant Professor at UCLA Design Media Arts. Her work has been exhibited in Ars Electronica, Barbican Centre, Fotomuseum Winterthur, , IDFA DocLab, Science Gallery Dublin, Seoul Mediacity Bienniale at the Seoul Museum of Art, and the Japan Media Arts Festival and she has worked on installations for the London Eye, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, or the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts, for example. She is a 2019 Creative Capital Grantee, ZERO1 Arts Incubator Resident.