The CONTROL Experiments


From 1999 to 2001, Harvey Loves Harvey was separated by more space than usual, as Nash lived in Chicago and Dean remained in New York. At the time, the Internet was coming to maturity, and there were many promises made about what the future would hold. In this exciting time, HLH started trying to test how their friendship and the technology connecting them could create new forms of communication. THE CONTROL EXPERIMENTS were some of the earliest tests of this idea, each project a small exploration of human experience and communication. Presented here are 12 of the original 19 CONTROL projects. CONTROL #9 was the larger project AVATARi, and the small idea intended to be project #19 grew to a full series of projects based on the interactive project NAUGHTY OR NICE?

Screenshots from the original web video documentation

Screenshots from the original web video documentation

Assignment One: given by Mr. Dean September 16, 2000

Step one: Determine an object that has been a part of your daily life for some length of time and write a brief paragraph explaining how long you have had it, for what, its general history.

Step two: In the late morning, early afternoon on Sunday the 17th, 2000 locate the nearest body of water to your home, one that is connected to a larger network of water, ie. a river etc. Not freestanding. Throw the object into the body of water and document the action.

Step three: Send the documentation to the other participant.

Mr. Nash:
I chose a gold-plated cigarette lighter for this first assignment. It was, in fact, given to me by my collaborator in this project (Mr. Dean) and I felt that it was an important symbolic gesture to use something that he had given me. The lighter itself also has a history, beyond Mr. Dean or I, as it was used as a prop in the John Woo film The Corruptor. I got it as a gift from Mr. Dean after they finished the film, as well as it’s twin brother. I have since lost the second lighter, and this has sat in a drawer, largely because Nicole and I are afraid of butane blowtorch lighters. So I will throw it in Lake Michigan.

Mr. Dean:
I chose a set of keys, which opened the door of the cow I worked on for Cow Parade 2000 NYC. The cow held a cell phone which called the phone I had on me 24hrs a day. It is going to be auctioned off on the 28th, and I have since taken the phone out. The keys would only be useful to the person buying the piece, but they will have to dive to the bottom of the Dutch Kills Creek in Brooklyn now.

Screenshots of original Flash movie documenting the project

Screenshots of original Flash movie documenting the project


Harvey loves Harvey traded off coming up with projects, and project #2 was up to Matt. Here’s his description:

As part of our project, I have combined some of our personal habits in an effort to make our lives more synchronous. For the entirety of Sunday, September 24th, 2000, we will dress the same, eat the same, and do several similar things.

We documented our similar actions in whatever way we chose and this began a series of work such as Avatari, and others where we attempted to have the same experience miles apart.


Assignment Four given by Mr. Nash.

As a part of our friendship, there is a certain amount of implicit knowledge that goes into our interaction. We know each other’s likes, habits, tastes, etc… But, since I have moved to Chicago, there is an aspect of our friendship that is incomplete.
I know how you live: your apartment, your neighborhood, your city, your brother, and things like that.
But you do not know mine. You’ve never been to Chicago, nor have you seen my workplace or apartment, my neighborhood or my friends.

The assignment:

1. Write a few paragraphs about how you imagine my life to be. This should include what you already know about me, what you’ve heard me say about my new life, and what you imagine things to be like.

2. For one day, I will live out the life you imagine for me.

3. Document the aspects of your life that you have written about of mine. This is subjective, but you should include those aspects that you feel best illustrate those things you have described. I will document my attempts to live out your fantasy of my life.

4. Make web content of the above.

Screenshot from original web posting

Screenshot from original web posting


Assignment Five given by Mr. Dean The timeframe on this project is: November 13 – 18, 2000.In this project, we will introduce each other to our friends.1. On Sunday, November 12, buy six postcards and six stamps.2. For the next six days, at a rate of one per day, choose one of your friends to introduce. Tell them a bit about the other person, and then have them fill out a postcard addressed to that person.

3. Mail the cards.

4. Make Web content of the results.

Screenshot from original posting

Screenshot from original posting


Assignment Six given by Mr. DeanThe timeframe on this project is: The week around Christmas ’001. Using television samples create a sound piece with the following things in mind: christmas and/or the holidays and the call to buy, the sales and special offers.2. The samples should all be taken within a 60 minute time period.

3. The piece should be no longer than 60 seconds

4. The finished piece should be made available to download in the CONTROL: section of HARVEYlovesHARVEY.

control8_1_lgCONTROL #8
Assignment Eight – Feel The Same Emotions1. For a whole day, we will try to feel the same emotions. See the schedule below.
2. Document your day with the attached checklist, and post a scan of the finished list at the end of the day.Schedule: (in US Central Time)

9-10 am: Surly. This shouldn’t be hard, since we both hate mornings.

10:01 – 11 am: Look at the enclosed picture of a kitten, and try to hold onto that emotion for a whole hour.

11:01 am – 1 pm: Be outgoing and happy to everyone you encounter. Do not say a negative thing about anyone or anything. If asked for a negative opinion, avoid giving an answer.

1:01 – 2 pm: Look at the enclosed picture of US government violence, and try to maintain that emotion for a whole hour.

2:01 – 4 pm: Every fifteen minutes for two hours, perform a kind act for someone around you. Get them a cup of coffee, or maybe a snack. Go out of your way to be nice.

control10_1_lgCONTROL #10

At the end of July and the beginning of August, 2001, Mr. Nash will be moving from Chicago to Boston. This is an important moment for the Harvey project, as it puts us back within four hours (and a $25 bus ride) from each other once again.

In honor of this, Project 10 is designed to make sure each member of Harvey records these three important days.

July 31 (Tuesday)

Mr. Nash will leave Chicago at 6am. Throughout the day he will be travelling, stopping for the night in Upstate NY. During the day, he will have access to nothing but rest-stop food. For the duration of the day, Mr. Dean can only eat foods that can be found in rest-stops. Hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, etc. He can only drink soda or coffee, and snacks can only consist of the types of candies that are available in the snack shop.
Document all foods.
Mr. Nash, on the road, will take photos of the journey, showing the roadside America that he is seeing, and Mr. Dean is dreaming about.

August 1 (Wednesday)

Mr. Nash will leave Upstate NY at 6am and arrive in Boston in the afternoon. For the first two meals, he will only have access to rest-stop food, but for dinner he will be in his new apartment.
For breakfast and lunch, Mr. Dean can only have rest-stop foods. For dinner, though, he can either make a homemade meal, order take-out, or go to a restaurant.
Document all foods.
Mr. Nash will continue to document the road.

August 2 (Thursday)

Mr. Nash will spend the day unpacking, setting up the web server, building bookshelves, and general moving-in stuff.
In the afternoon, Mr. Dean should have a celabratory cake, with 9 candles (one for each year of the HLH project). Document the cake before eating.

CONTROL #11Assignment Eleven given by: Mr. Dean
The date of this project is: Continuous
The following was posted to various newsgroup message boards throughout the internet during the summer of 2001:
“Mr. Nash, who received his Masters Degree as of the summer of 2001 is returning to boston to teach college level photography. Professor Nash, as he now is now known, is available to answer any and all questionsanyone might have about anything. The questions and answers will be posted in the PROJECTS section of
He doesn’t claim to know everything but will take every question very seriously and personally respond to all of them.”Here are some excerpts from the project:Question 2

From: “pisa7″
Subject: Questions
Date: Tue, 7 Aug 2001 19:11:49 -0400

Where do we come from?
Did O.J. do it?

To: “pisa7″
From: M Nash
Subject: Re: Questions

Hmmm… two tricky ones.
First, where do we come from? I assume you mean in the existential sense, such is ‘Is there a God?’ or ‘Does life mean anything?’

The Bible offers a few options:
We were created as the last, and presumeably greatest, of God’s animals. (Genesis creation)
We were created in God’s image to live in paradise, but exiled due to flaws in human kind. (Adam & Eve)
We are descended from the only family virtuous enough to survive God’s wrathful annihilation of his creations. (Noah)
Science has offered the Big Bang and Darwinian theory. These provide a framework for a slowly evolving, improving and adapting creature that eventually found, through natural means, that the power of the brain succeeded where brute strength did not.

From Nietzsche: “All beings so far have created something beyond themselves; and do you want to be the ebb of this great flood and even go back to the beasts rather than overcome man? What is the ape to man? A laughingstock or a painful embarrassment. And man shall be just that for the overman (Ÿbermensch); a laughing stock or a painful embarrassment. You have made your way from worm to man, and much in you is still worm. Once you were apes, and even now, too, man is more ape than any ape.” (Thus Spake Zarathustra, Walter Kaufman, Trans.)

Kierkegaard, in struggling to justify God with Science, wrote this: “It is perfectly true, as philosopheres say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards. And if one thinks over that proposition it becomes more and more evident that life can never really be understood in time simply because at no particular moment can I find the necessary resting place from which to understand it – backwards.” (The Journals, Alexander Dru, Trans.)

Certain Native American tribes believed that we came from the mud that collected on the back of a giant turtle. Buddhism says that all life is suffering.

I have no answer to this question, obviously. You may find your answer in religion, or existentialism, or structuralism, or aethism.

Personally, I find it easiest to answer the question simpy. I come from a small farm town. I have evolved into the person I am today. I’m not proud of all of my decisions, but it is the only road I have travelled and the only road I get to travel.

Now, for your second question, did O.J. do it?

I wasn’t there, and can’t say for sure, but the evidence seems to indicate that he did. General concensus is that he did it, and he was convicted in the second trial.

Why is this so important to you? The trial ended five years ago.

Thanks for your questions.

Mr. Nash

From: “lblack”
Subject: clamming
Date: Sun, 26 Aug 2001 11:19:33 -0500

i would like to know more about claming in minnesota mostly on lakes in southern minnesota.
the equipment and where to get it and how to use it



You have stumped me.

I live nearly 1500 miles from Minnesota, and have only been there once. I didn’t even know that there were clams in the lakes of Minnesota….

Then again, there are mussels in the Great Lakes (where I grew up) so I guess there can be clams in Minnesota.

I emailed my uncle in Minneapolis, but he was no help. I tried looking in some of the boating supply catalogs I designed when was in Chicago, I looked online.



I would say your best bet is to call the local marina or boating supply house (you can get a list from Barclay Marine, Chicago, or MESCO in the Chicago area) and ask them.


Mr. Nash

Date: Wed, 8 Aug 2001 10:35:35 -0700 (PDT)
From: robyn belair
Subject: query

will you please describe the theory of complexity as
it relates to darwinian and societal evolution in 40
words or less?

To: robyn belair
From: M Nash
Subject: Re: queryAhem.The contradiction of our postmodern society is that we have struggled for generations to overcome the Darwinian model and create a social system that supports even the most unprepared and incapable. From a Socialist standpoint, this purports to create ‘equality,’ while Capitalism expoits this to create an new form of caste system in which the poor fight against a system that, in maintaining their very existence, also negates their ascendance.It’s a little more than 40 words, but…Good luck and thanks for the question.

Mr. Nash

control13_1_lgCONTROL #13
After giving a lecture on our work, Harvey Loves Harvey was accused of being ‘too macho’. To fix this image, we will do the following for one week:

1. Using an online service, such as Yahoo! or E-Cards, each participant must send a ‘postcard’ to the other participant. The text of the card must read “I LOVE YOU” and be sincere. There can be no snide or sarcastic asides in the text. The image chosen for the cards can be any image available from the card service.

2. Use a different online service for each card you send.

3. Document all cards received.

control16_1_lgCONTROL #16

These are a few examples from this series.

One participant finds an object and destroys it completely. Documenting the before and after with photographs. The remains of the object are given to the other participant with no knowledge of the original object who then must reconstruct it using traditional restoration methods. The photographs and reconstructed object are displayed next to each other.

Unfortunately we found there is a fine line between ‘able to be reconstructed’ and ‘no possible way’ and this series has since been abandoned.

We will attempt to determine if the members of Harvey Loves Harvey are telepathic by creating ten drawings. Mr. Nash will draw in Boston, MA, and Mr. Dean will draw in Brooklyn, NY.Using 81/2 x 11 sheets of paper and concentrating 250 miles apart one participant will attempt to draw what the other participant is concentrating on and vice versa. The exact time will be determined beforehand.The participants will have no communication during the experiment, only directly before and after, with the drawing occurring at a set time. The first participant draws a two-dimensional object, using one line on a white piece of paper in black ink before the piece is scheduled to begin.

At the exact time the piece begins this participant will concentrate on the drawing and think of nothing else except the drawing and trying to aid the hand of the other participant. The second participant will place the writing instrument on the piece ofpaper at the exact starting time and begin moving their hand unconsciously thinking of the first participant and the drawing in front of them.


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