Tim Etchells’ Surrender Control began with flyers distributed in London that asked “Do you want to Surrender Control?”, with instructions to send the text ‘SURRENDER’ to take part. After signing up, participants were sent a series of text messages beginning with thought experiments such as “Remember last night” but escalating in intensity to demand actions – “Write the word SORRY on your hands. Leave it there until it fades” – and even engagement with strangers: “Dial a number different from that of a friend. If someone answers, try to keep them talking”.
Etchells described Surrender Control as somewhere between a game and a set of dares. Participants in Surrender Control gave him access to an intimate space usually inhabited by close friends and family, and creating an artwork for that place was like having the chance to “to whisper in the ears of strangers as they go about their daily business”.
Having been invited in, he could push the boundaries of what people would dare to do as they went about their lives in different contexts and locations.