How much sand

In 1906, the mathematician Francis Galton discovered a phenomenon known as the wisdom of the crowd: while visiting a fair in Plymouth, he observed a weight guessing contest. Eight hundred people were asked to guess the weight of an ox, and upon further analysis, Galton discovered that the average guess of all the entrants was quite close to the actual weight of the cow, closer than the best individual guess in the contest, as well as the estimates of experts. 

Building on this idea, Prüfer has devised an experiment of collective intelligence: in these times of uncertain future, fake news, and vast social and political divisions, where people almost live in different worlds — divided, separated — Prüfer questions how we can all live together. Is there the potential that our common differences, our diversity, can put us on a path to finding truths? Are we indeed wiser together? If non-human species (ants, bees, etc.) can demonstrate cooperation and collective intelligence, why does it sometimes seem impossible to bridge the divides and differences of humans? 

The project consists of an online website where participants are invited to enter their best estimate concerning how much sand is in the pictured jar. From this data Prüfer will then calculate the average guess and manually count the grains of sand within the jar.

The experiment composes an extension of Prüfer’s practice which predominantly involves the exploration of natural processes and their transference to the visual image. Within this, Prüfer examines a range of existential, philosophical and political subjects in relation to evolution, humanity’s manipulation of and ultimate interdependence with the natural ecosystem, contravening the human cultural paradigm of separation from natural phenomena.