Extreme Queuing Tactics

Thanks to Stefan for coming out to meet me for the interview.

Mistake Methodology

As I’ve been creating this book for my thesis project, I’ve also been developing my methodology that i’ve extrapolated from research into error. I’ve then been applying this methodology to the everyday joy of queueing.

Blunders in Sweden seem to be generally treated with silent denial.

Slips and inefficient additions to a system are swiftly removed and put in their place.

Results to come…

While queue jumping is a criminal offense in britain, punishable by immense verbal abusing, it seems that in Sweden, in an average everyday queue, jumpers are tolerated. The old lady at the front actually turned around, smiled at me, and said hello.

Placebo Queues


Method = Omission

So far I’ve created 3 “Placebo Queues” in Newcastle, Uk and Stockholm, Sweden. A Placebo Queue is a queue that looks exactly like a queue, but is disfunctional in the fact that it has no reason; no goal. The people in the placebo queue are queueing just for the sheer pleasure of queueing.

Why create these queues with no reason? I am interested in if the passerby notices the error in the queue; if the queue creates a double take and gets one to question reality. A side-line to this is i’m interested in the amount of people it takes to create a queue as well as the behaviour of our queuers AND if any unsuspecting passerby actually joins the queue.

#01 – Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK

#02 – Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK

#03 – Stockholm, Sweden.

The results:
People were really quite curious of the “Bridge Queues.” The weather obviously was a major factor in people’s behaviour. Even so, the Stockholm Snow Queue got alot of laughs and even a few old ladies investigating if the sign in front of them said something about why they would be queueing. The queue with the fake leader, but real queuers, waited until a bus came then, realising the man was not queueing for the bus, all looked a bit bemused and made their way towards the bus. A few asked him what he was queuing for. The man said “no reason”.

Notebook Development


I’ve been testing more notebooks – this time in Newcastle, UK. Newcastle has a similar size and feel to Stockholm, and so provides a good city to compare cultural responses to my exercises in error.

There are two type of notebooks – one has white lettering on the outside (marked), the other is plain (unmarked).

The first notebook (marked) I dropped, after 30 minutes, no one picked up. The second (unmarked) I dropped I had someone running up to me immediately to try to give it back. The third, two rough characters eyed it up but refrained from picking it up. Finally someone did pick it up. Now it’s waiting to see if they are curious enough to follow the clues…




Placebo Queue

Roman Ondak, Good Feelings in Good Times, Frieze Art Fair, London, 2003

Roman Ondak, Good Feelings in Good Times. Frieze Art Fair, Lon 2003

So this is an idea I’ve been toying with since I started this research. And finally I’ve decided it is the route I should go down.

Context: Sweden
- the swedes are perhaps the best queuers in the world.

System: Queues
- they are spontaneous
- a symbol of order & civilised behaviour
- have their own rules
- culturally dependant

The natural ability for some nations, namely the Brits and the Swedes, to form queues when waiting is said to be a sign of civilisation and order. However some argue that it’s a mindless conditioned behaviour to follow the rules, and that those nations who don’t queue are more aware of what rules ought to be followed and what rules they know they really just have to go through the motions on. So if we can get people to question the queuing system, perhaps we can make them more aware of their inbuilt cultural behaviours and thus give them a space to re-evaluate their behaviour.

Fake queues are not uncommon. However many of these queues come from a top down, advertising-driven approach. Roman Ondak (above) is one artist who staged a static queue at the frieze art fair – a performance of a “moment of non-activity”. So what if a queue was formed from a more bottom-up approach? By the people, for the people.

Previously I’ve been trying to add errors to the queuing system to see how people behave when rules are broken, and things don’t work as expected. Now the next step is to subvert the queue itself. To take something that symbolises order and efficiency and process it through an absurd and playful lens. Basically a queue that leads to nowhere. Similar to Roman Ondak but I’m interested if people begin to join the queue, behaviours that arise from people waiting without needing to wait, and if passersby notice this error of social code, and question their perception and understanding of it.

The date for the staged queue will be around the end of March. I’m looking for a strange public space in stockholm to stage it and hope to bring some extra props – tents, korv grills, musicians, to elicit different experiences. Come!! All are welcome.

Research Recap #2


View the movie

The Notebook Project

Inspired by the fake websites and email that scammers create online to fool users into entering secure financial information, this project takes the same approach in order to reverse the tables, and turn the scammee’s into the scammers.

Various notebooks are left around the city. All contain information for a bank account and login details which lead to a fake online banking website. The question is to see just how moralistic the swedish moral-superpower really is.

Screen shot 2010-04-16 at 13.53.15

Screen shot 2010-04-16 at 13.53.24



Prototypes for Luring Ljud, (trick sounds), or sonic Will-o’-the-Wisps. The idea is to place sounds in holes and hidden doorways around the city that make people do a double-aural take and, in doing so, notice parts of the city that would otherwise be unnoticed.

The sounds were placed around the quieter parts of the city, as they’re quite subtle and I don’t really want them to scream at people to get noticed. However, saying that, the sound of a voice whistling and saying “hello” are too similar to the sonic surroundings, and perhaps they’re a little too quiet. Only one person did a real double-take and got curious enough to see where the sound was coming from.

This makes me think about taking the sounds out of context. What if an elephant trumpeted out of a drainpipe, or a marching band played behind a celler porthole?

The Wrobots are out!

Urban Floorways


Getting Lost by looking down; taking a photo every 100 steps – flickr set