Selfies, avatars, twitterbots & Gchat melodrama


Los Angeles based artist Ed Fornieles works between the internet and reality; comparing how people portray themselves in the real world and online. All of his work involves long winded scenarios which involve play-acting and alter-egos that confuses public and private identities. Collaboration is a key element of Fornieles practice and the setting often relates to coming-of age rituals or other similar rites of passage such as relationships, frat parties or online seduction. In Dorm Daze(2011) Fornieles’s created a ‘real’ Facebook page for a fictional high school, where fictional characters interacted and posted messages.

Fornieles created a world within Facebook of 35 characters who acted out a fictitious three months of School. A series of melodrama’s followed between different characters- in the trailer for the project, a Gossip Girl-like character narrates the highlighted scenes. The piece clearly blurs boundaries between how we perform a persona on social media and how actors create personas on stage, Here’s what Fornieles had to say in an interview with Rhizome editor Joanne McNeil:

Characters informed their navigation of that with your previous experience of the real world; of its codes, conventions and understandings. So in a sense, and after a certain point, you’d be neither acting nor gaming; it’s more of a transferal of skills. Yet there’s this incredible dialogue occurring, always, between our experience of fiction and our experience of reality. So skills learnt during this hypothetical three month exodus would be reapplied in conventional reality, and so on, offering you a new perspective and an enhanced narrative within your original profile. Video games, cinema and even novels are all becoming as experiences more immersive, and I think there’s a sense of our culture courting this, collapsing the fictional/real binary and looking for a new space to explore.


The structure of online social networking allows for many different local narratives to develop, feeding into and accelerating larger narratives. This is apparent in Dorm Daze the time span of the piece, over three months, allowed real world events to effect aspects of the plot. One character for example becomes involved in the occupy movement. Dorm Daze was a piece in itself but also a content generating system as sculptural and larger installation works developed out of it which were brought together in the Hangover (Part II)

The work of the young London and L.A.-based artist Ed Fornieles explores the interpenetration of URL and IRL in a socially networked world. His performances, staged events and ‘Facebook sitcoms’ enthusiastically embrace the dissembling aspects of online identity-management – selfies, avatars, twitterbots, Gchat melodrama – and walk a fine line between art-world satire and blatant self-promotion. In New York New York Happy Happy (NY NY HP HP) (2013), staged at the New Museum in New York, he orchestrated a semi-fictional charity gala in aid of the online journal Rhizome, which operated as a psychological version of fancy dress: rather than wear costumes, guests were invited to adopt new egos. The ambiguous extroversion of such performances, where fake people are encouraged to have authentic encounters, is thematic to Fornieles’s work as a whole., Patrick Langley for FRIEZE online







One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: