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LOS ANGELES — Log onto Facebook on any given day, and it’s a daily dose of life’s dramas. Hook-ups, break-ups, drunk party photos.  It can be an especially complex space for young people, as the research of danah boyd has so lucidly explored.

So a new Facebook-based project, Dorm Daze, caught my eye.  London/LA-based artist Ed Fornieles created a world within Facebook of 35 characters who acted out a fictitious three months of college, with a series of dramas, like a college basketball star and math geek involved in a drug ring and the unrequited love of two fraternity guys.  In the “trailer” for the project, a Gossip Girl-like character narrates the highlights of the three-month intervention.

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.

Social media platforms make for particularly potent fields for performance. Dorm Daze reminds me of the re-enactment of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing in a Facebook page, and the Royal Shakespeare Company’s performance of Romeo and Juliet, which included YouTube videos re-imagining Juliet as a web-savyy Millenial. Theater is all about the slings and arrows of daily life, a drama carried out each day on the stage of social media.

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An Xiao

Artist An Xiao (aka An Xiao Mina) photographs, films, installs, performs and tweets and has shown her work in publications and galleries internationally. Find her online at @anxiaostudio...