A collaborative exhibition with Matthew Crookes

This exhibition was an installation of two text-based scrolling videos, presented on computer monitors, on generic tables. We were interested in the generic questionnaire and the hidden ambiguities and ambivalence of the apparently neutral popular survey or poll. We created a questionnaire, the writing of which became a large part of the project.


Why Bother Building Scales
Matthew Crookes & Christina Read

Press Release:
Start with a demographic of two. You have a binary exchange. Adam and Eve - pre Fall, of course - are surveying one another, attempting to ascertain (with correct procedural models, naturally) the likes, dislikes, inclinations, attitudes, values, aspirations - of the other. There are no right or wrong answers, and all responses are strictly confidential. For the same reason the agency commissioning the study must remain anonymous.

It is perhaps apt during an election period to be discussing demographics and questionnaires - especially since, in the polling - happy weeks leading up to that day, even the polls themselves and their outcomes are the stuff of news. The edifice that is created by compounding layers of data, data about data, steadily clouds issues and dilutes meaning. It is an exercise which, to paraphrase Sir Humphrey Appleby, the means are the ends.

And so data gathering and risk management replace intuition and creative thought - TV sitcoms are more likely the product of focus groups than gut-feelings of an experienced comedy writer, any original ad campaign will first be rigorously and relentlessly tested to ensure its palatability with target audiences.

Maybe this is humanity’s fate - will a proliferation of data serve as a sort of monstrous screening out of one another, the seeds of our decline already encoded, like a software bug, in our inability to decide our own preferences without recourse to (faulty) data? Will a badly managed survey see us finally fail to communicate to the point where we simply fade away...?


5 Alfred Street
General Library Foyer
The University of Auckland








Video still