The workshop results in a personal Friends stamp in a box and a Friends book for take away.


workshop, social intervention
paper, cardboard, DIY stamps

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

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Friends is a drop-in workshop open to all visitors. The DIY process to join Friends takes 30-60 minutes for earch participant.

Participants create their personal Friends stamp from their web profile picture by cutting a piece of foam mounted on a board.

Each Friends user wears a badge button showing his/her profile picture. The badge helps to find each other in public space.

Participants create their personal Friends book from two sorts of paper and and a card board cover. The blank pages are stamped with different template stamps.

Each Friends user prints his/her basic profile data with Dymo tape in the first page of his/her book. Stamped Dymo tape letters are very usefull for fast copies with blue print paper (see below).

From a selection of Web2.0 services Friends user pick the services they use, fill in their data and produce a series of Web2.0 stamps for later exchange.

Two Friends user meet on the street and decide to ad each other to their books. They exchange their profile picture stamp and carbon copy the basic info (nick, name, website, blog, email ….) by joining the books and rubbing the blue print paper.

The big book in the exhibition archives all Friends user, each on three pages: profile, services and friends. The profile page has a wall for handwritten messages and a small pocket for friend requests.