For week 3’s theme ‘Food’, students lay down in Alexandra square with sweets across their bodies. The idea of the piece was to test the boundaries of social interaction and to see who would be willing to take free food from a stranger's body.
To document this piece, I chose to use Yik Yak, the social media app that allows people to anonymously create and respond to discussion threads and posts (called ‘Yaks’) uploaded within a 5-mile radius of the user. The app is incredibly popular with Lancaster University students as it allows for complete anonymity, with posts often being humorous or witty. The app also provides a valuable way of finding out what is going on on campus with users posting updates mocking or informing others of activities occurring at the university. I felt this would provide a unique form of documentation as it would give me the opportunity to post my own ‘Yaks’ as though they were written by passers-by.
The Yaks that I posted (shown above) consist of key snippets of conversation I heard from people walking past the performance. In some cases, the Yaks are comments that people made when I myself was talking to them. For example, the Yak “Love how people are so scared to take sweets from people’s bodies, especially if they’re lower than the person’s stomach.” was influenced by a comment that one of the third year students made during the performance.
The decision to choose Yik Yak was influenced partly by its ease of use and the anonymity it provides, allowing me to pretend to be 12 different university students, but also through the reactions it would cause from other users. Yaks are significant places of conversation, with users either joining in with the humour, providing helpful information or simply being a nuisance. By using Yik Yak, I was able to start a discussion with other users, and see their reactions to the performance. These cannot be seen in the screenshots, however, as Yaks are only available for a limited amount of time and if given 5 down votes (-5) are automatically deleted from the main thread.
One limitation to using Yik Yak was that by the time I had posted one Yak, a number of key comments had been made that I had missed. The time it took to type out comments also meant I missed key interactions, such as one girl having a conversation with one of the students lying on the floor (a photo of this interaction can be seen below). The advantage of using this social media app as opposed to a more popular like Twitter, however, was primarily its popularity amongst university students, but more the anonymity it provides. Whilst Twitter ultimately creates the same environment, the anonymity of Yik Yak provided me with a large window of opportunity, giving me the chance to post yaks that would make it seem like this performance was a key piece of social interaction at the University, which it was.
The Yaks I posted during the performance are presented in the slideshow above. I chose to put them together in a digital slideshow, as opposed to printing them out and having them in a book, because I wanted them to remain digital. Yik Yak is an online forum, it is rooted in the digital world. It does not expand out into the physical world, it remains on our phones. I wanted to maintain this notion.