When denoting humans, 6 billion, 1 million, even 10,000, seem beyond one’s grasp: even ten people may be too many for a room.

Why do people gather in a particular place, and how do they preserve their individuality? What kind of people are they anyway? What is the purpose they unite for – if it is unity, and not chance mixing? Are they happier together? Does their union not make them ludicrous in the eyes of the outside observer? Do the participants of a mass event need the justification provided by their number to feel good, as if it were a proof of a good choice: since others are also present, this must be the right place at the right time?
Man is a social animal, but a crowd is not company. Somewhere the group ends in which every participant has a perceptibly formative role, and another, larger-scale organization begins. Social loneliness is a common occurrence in a crowd, as is voluntary uniformity and frustration. On this scale, the personal interaction of members loses its natural quality, becomes noise that hinders homogeneity, an unwanted manifestation of poor organization. It is replaced by thinking along rallying cries that answer simplistic questions. The crowd sets an obstacle to dispassionate dialogue, which is why it is favoured by dictators and whoever likes to fish in troubled waters.

Any individual would shun a crowd, yet people instinctively seek those situations where the formation of a crowd is likely. There is a shifting boundary, where the group still does not melt into the crowd, where in the foreground of the homogenous mass man seeking happiness is still identifiable.

Whats' Up? - A Panorama of Contemporary Hungarian Art
Kunsthalle, Budapest, 2008
(photo: Miklós Surányi)

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All photographs © Kudász Gábor Arion