Thursday, December 22, 2011

Shout out from Artnet

Tanja Alexia Hollander’s “Are You Really My Friend?” Facebook photo project in progress


Dec. 22, 2011

How many of your hundreds of Facebook friends do you actually know? Maine-based landscape photographer Tanja Alexia Hollander has 600 friends and is determined to meet them all. For an upcoming exhibition at the Portland Museum of Art, “Are You Really My Friend? The Social Media Portrait Project,” Jan. 4-June 17, 2012, Hollander has set out on a global mission to visit, in person, all of her Facebook friends and take their photographs.
Since January of this year, she has been stopping by each of her “friends’” houses to take portraits that are unmediated by computer screens and the filters of self-presentation. According to Hollander, “Though we are in the initial stages of understanding the affects of social networking on American culture and photography, there is a pervasive feeling that it is changing our interactions with each other and building a false sense of community.”

Aside from the exhibition of portraits, Hollander says the project involves lots of audience participation and feedback, naturally. Not all of the photos will be displayed at once, for instance, and observers are invited to help select images and comment on their quality. Perplexingly, they are also welcome, she notes, to “critique the management of her Facebook page.”

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

What I Didn’t Write About When I Wrote About Quitting Facebook

I met Michael when I photographed Jon & Jones.  He stopped over while I was there to return a bowl or pick up a bowl or something.  Anyway, he told me he was done with FB and was going to write about it.   About a week a go, he sent me an email to this piece he wrote.   It's fascinating.
What I Didn’t Write About When I Wrote About Quitting Facebook
The first thing I didn’t write about quitting Facebook was a status update to my friends saying, I’m quitting Facebook.

I also did not write a proposal for the nonfiction book I imagined, which was about quitting Facebook. In the book, I would indulge the conceit that my Facebook friends are, actually, my good friends, and that the social network comprises a sort of community when taken as a whole. Then, as one does with one’s friends, I would call each person up or visit them and tell them I was leaving Facebook, which would create an opportunity to talk about Facebook and this whole social media thing, but mainly it would be to get to know something about who they actually were and why we were linked in the first place and what it all might have meant.

Eighteen weeks of five interviews a day would get me through my friend list, I calculated. Friends from high school and college and grad school. Friends of friends. Editors. Siblings and a couple of cousins, my in-laws. Random admirers and hangers-on. The resulting book would reflect our conversations about how much Facebook had enhanced our friendships and our lives in general, or maybe it hadn’t, and we’d talk about that, too. And we’d exchange info, and say goodbye, and then linger, and wave, and wave, until we couldn’t see each other any more—one of those departures where you look away out of exhaustion with the moment, then when you look up find they’ve gone, vanished, as if they hadn’t been there at all.

At the end of the book, I would actually unplug from Facebook, and I would write about that, too, and the heartwarming account of the ties that bind us would inspire you to hold your Facebook friends close, so close, because the time we pass in this mortal coil is so fleeting; we are truly encountering only the passing of the person, not the person in themselves.

But I didn’t write this, nor did I write a status update about leaving. When I quit, there were no goodbyes. No interviews. Just, I’m outta here.

Another thing I did not write about quitting Facebook was that one of the great social pleasures in my life has been to leave gatherings or parties unannounced. You know, when the party is socked in solid from the front door to the kitchen, and the conversation is drying up like old squeezed limes, it’s easiest to keep heading out the back. How cool the night. How open and unquestioning the darkness. “French leave,” we English speakers say. (“English leave,” the French say.) Often I went to parties to be able to vanish from them. But the disappearing act rarely happens any more; I could never get away with it. Such pleasures one has to give up because they’re so unsuited to middle-aged life. You get trained, after a while, to going to every person in the room. Hey, great to see you again. See you later. Send me a note about that thing. Yes, let’s do that. Goodbye, bye. The book idea was, in a way, testing out the durability of that social grace. But I didn’t write about either topic.

I did, however, start an essay that could have been about why I quit Facebook, except that I got distracted by the emergence of a genre you could call the Social Media Exile essay, and I wondered whether I could meet the conventions of that genre if I ever tried to write about why I quit Facebook, though the truth is, I didn’t really want to write another version of the Social Media Exile Essay, dramatizing the initial promise of this or that social media or network, the enthusiastic glow of online togetherness, then the disillusionment, the final straw, the wistful looking back. I did write that it seems like so many people have had their crack at “The Day I Quit Blogging” or “Why I Tweet No More,” which aren’t real essay titles but could have been, also like “How Google Broke My Heart” or “Farewell MySpace” or “Je Ne Regrette Rien, Friendster.” So this essay never got written.

I was also writing emails to former Facebook friends who had noticed that I was gone from their friend list and who were taking my disappearance personally, all because of what I hadn’t written about quitting Facebook—which I didn’t start writing, because I had to placate my friends. Really, it wasn’t because of you, it was because of the whole enterprise, I wrote, which had begun to throw salt on my misanthropy. I went no farther than that—I feared offending them if I wrote about how difficult it became to have peaceable face-to-face relationships with people who projected unlikeability online.

I did tweet the observation that Facebook isn’t going to pay you a pension or 401k for all the time you spent there, and quite a lot of people liked this. So that was one veiled thing I wrote about why I quit Facebook.

I didn’t write about the shock of finding out that the two dear sons of one of my Facebook “friends” had been tragically killed in an auto accident, not recently but two years ago. Somehow I had missed this fact, until an anniversary post by one of the grieving parents—the status update elliptical, scourged by grief—pointed me toward the incident. I do not know what I would have done or written if I had known before. I did not write anything to them now because I felt so ashamed of my ignorance amidst a wealth of things to click on and know about. A wealth of things that may not matter so much. It’s always been a world in which you can lose your children or your parents in an instant, but somehow I have made it this far without knowing that in my gut.

Instead of writing about any of this, once I was not on Facebook anymore, I found myself sending emails with some witty insights or photos of my baby, but it just wasn’t the same; a request for housing help for a friend via email got no responses. However, I was now talking a lot about quitting Facebook, and this for a time became the most interesting thing about me. Fueled by how interesting I now was, I wrote a draft of an essay about writing about why I quit Facebook, which was clever but did not contain any of the things I have already said I didn’t write about. Plus, as the editor pointed out, I didn’t actually explain why I had quit. I hadn’t written about feeling like Facebook was a job. Like I was running on a digital hamster wheel. But a wheel that someone else has rigged up. And a wheel that’s actually a turbine that’s generating electricity for somebody else. That’s how I felt, which is what I should have written.

I thought about how I didn’t want to write about why I quit, only about how great it feels to be free, because how often do you get to leave a job? Something along the lines of, you stand up at your desk, you un-pin the photo of your dog or loved one from the cubicle wall, and you walk right out the door, don’t take the elevator because it’s slower than the stairs, and you bid the thrumming hive adios. Leaving Facebook felt like that. The sun singing on your face like springtime. The birds all whistling your theme song.

In the standard Social Media Exile essay, one doesn’t mention or announce when one returns to blogging or Twitter. For each platform or network one leaves, there’s another one to return to. Sometimes they’re the same. So I’m going to close this piece by breaking that convention and mentioning how easy it turns out to be to reactivate Facebook. When you sign back in, all your stuff is there, as if you’d never left. It’s like coming back to your country after a month in a foreign land, and it makes one feel that the whole reason for leaving is to make the place seem strange again. Being away from Facebook was certainly that. But I had to come back. That’s where all the people are. I’ve got a book coming out, and I need to let my friends know. Anyway, you know where to find me and what to talk about when you do. I’ll have some cookies baked.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Shout out from MWF seeking BFF

Originally posted on MWF seeking BFF blog:

The Art of Friendship (Like, Actual Art)

You guys. There’s this photographer, Tanja Hollander, who is working on a project that is awesome. Trust me.
An article on Etsy’s blog explains it really well: “[Hollander has] taken camera in hand and is visiting each of her 626 Facebook friends, removing ‘virtual’ from their relationships and creating a portrait to document the moment.” The project is called “Are You Really My Friend? The Facebook Portrait Project.”
Hollander has her own blog where she posts the pictures, with vital stats like names, relationship and how long they’ve known each other. (Scroll through the first couple of posts to get to the pics and stats.) The portraits are fascinating in their honesty and intimacy. She captures her “friends” in their homes, looking like they normally would. This isn’t some fancy schmancy dolled up project. It’s real.
read and see more

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Shout out from a geek tragedy

Originally posted on a geek tragey

December 2nd, 2011 
an external exploration of online friendships.
I have been wondering lately about how people define their online relationships. In a past post I explored the concept of IRL in present connotation. Before that, I grew tired of my collection of false online friendships and deleted Facebook.

I began to consider: how do these people fit into my definition of “friend”? What do I want out of an online, or offline, community?

Today, I read a very interesting article: Are You Really My Friend? about Tanja Hollander, a photographer who has set out on a mission to meet and photograph every one of her 626 Facebook friends (ex-boyfriends included) — I assume she will not be adding additional friendships during the time period it takes to complete the project. The surprising part, only two people have turned her down for privacy reasons.
Her challenge in this experiment is working with a patchwork of varying degrees of friendship across the Facebook platform: friends, acquaintances, business colleagues, family. It becomes something of an introspective process.

Mary Bok with Surely and Honey the dogs, Camden, Maine. (taken by Tanja Hollander)

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Shout out from moshimoshiii

Originally posted on { m o s h i m o s h i i i }

30 November 2011

are you really my friend?

photo by tanja hollander.

like many people i have mixed feelings about facebook. i was never a great enthusiast but i have my account like everyone else and i admit to enjoy strolling through peoples lifes like a voyeur and drop my "likes" every now and then. and i also like to see what my distant friends are doing and believe i'm closer to them with comments and likes. at the beggining i was a "purist" - no, i will never accept anyone who is not my true friend! i soon ate my words when work colleagues and old highschool friends i didn't even remember the existence started asking to "become a friend". i quickly forgot my purist principles and now have 420 friends (too many? too few?) and often ask what is the sense of this community?

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Diane Hudson & Eddie Fitzpatrick, Portland, Maine

title: Diane Hudson & Eddie Fitzpatrick, Portland, Maine
date: 2011
relationship: friends, art, met through Bakery Photo Collective
years known: 5-10
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