The Face Book

The Face Book

The Face Book: A Collaborative Social Networking Project 2010
By Jenna Frye and Chris Metzger

The Face Book functions as a critique of Facebook™, bridging gaps between artists affiliated with the Maryland Institute College of Art and Morgan State University networks. Participants were asked to challenge their beliefs and attitudes towards profiles, and the idea of identity as both online presence and network affiliation through community art.

By deconstructing the central mechanism of social software, the user profile, and analyzing it in the context of racial profiling and stereotyping, most students concluded that stereotyping plays a larger role in their lives than they previously thought or wanted. Indeed, user profiles are a way of stereotyping our own identity, a process many of us enter into freely, and without second thought.

The Process

Each participant was paired with a partner from the other school, and exchanged profile pictures from  Facebook™ with one another. Next, armed only with one another's photo and knowledge of each other's college reputation, we asked the students to “profile” their partner by creating an imagined Facebook™ profile of their partners. Participants guessed their partners answers to popular social networking profile questions such as religious affiliation, favorite music, favorite tv shows etc. Finally, the collaborators then traded the “real” answers to their profiling questionnaires and got a chance to confront one another about their judgements. To summarize findings about their partner, each participant wrote a Haiku describing what they came to know about their partner.

The Book and Exhibition

As a final step, we created a book together based on our experiences. We all created a traditional self portrait that had the design constraint of including the Haiku our partner had written for us. Each of us then created a spread in the book that addressed social identity as a diptych: one on side, was our self-portrait, or “the way we see and present ourselves” and  on the other, the results of our profile exchanges, or “the way we are seen or perceived by others.” The book ended up being 80 pages which we self-published and made available for purchase through blurb.com in Spring 2010.

We exhibited the book and a selection of spreads at The 2010 Faculty Art exhibition at Morgan State University.

Sample Spreads