The project Friends is a workshop which translates the so-called social web – online services such as Facebook, Myspace, etc. – into a paper-based form in physical space. All workshop participants contribute a profile page to the big Friends Book and make their own personal friends booklet in which to collect as many friends as possible. With their own hand-made profile photo stamp and a large amount of prefabricated web 2.0 service stamps, users trade among each other information about their favorite online services and web activities. In order to be recognized as Friends workshop participants, users can wear a button with their own profile photo or display their Web 2.0 preferences on Friends Tattoos.
Social networks in the internet, which have become hugely popular over the last few years, have given the term “friend” a completely new meaning. In contrast to the usually restricted and time-consuming circle of friends in everyday life, in the internet it is possible to find a large number of friends quickly with just a few clicks.And only a few of these friends are actually personally known by the user. Without a great deal of effort it is possible to have hundreds, thousands or even hundreds of thousands of friends in the Internet. Who has the most friends? Who is the best-known and the most often to be seen? The development of the internet in recent years enables the individual to gratify his/her desire for recognition and attention in quite a new way.
With reference to the classic German poetry album or the friendship book in the USA, the Friends workshop takes this development as the central theme and opens a debate over the many-layered types from friendship.
The time-honored paper-based technology and tools used in the workshop as well as the handicraft skills of its participants contrast with the screen-limited but highly efficient online world of the social networks. In contrast to the obvious open contact with private information in the social web, the classic paper document conceals a high degree of obligation and protects privacy.The data from the web services documented on paper during the Friends workshop pose anew the question of the private and public nature of web identities.
Who is my friend? How well do we know each other? Where do we meet? How does the Social Web effect inter-personal relationships?
The Friends workshop was comissioned by Futuresonic and premiered during the Futuresonic festival 1.5.-5.5.2008 Manchester, UK
– Thanks to Veronika Becker and Holger Lindmüller for advice, design and production assistance during preparation phase in Berlin.
– Thanks to Kit Turner (Futuresonic art production assistance) and Ben Harding (Futuresonic tech. and exhibition architecture) for the production in Manchester.
– Thanks to my exellent Friends workshop assistance Charlotte Barnes and to the volunteers: Josephine, Dan, Sofia, Maya … among others.
– Thanks to the whole Futuresonic 2008 team for support!
More pictures of the Friends workshop on flickr.
Aram Bartholl 2008