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"Girls And Girls Frat"Ed Fornieles

Exclusive: the Tumblr novel of the Facebook college sitcom

Check out how Ed Fornieles and Dean Kissick turned a moving / creepy / hilarious / addictive Facebook sitcom into a Tumblr novel

Like the best artists, Ed Fornieles makes us see possibilies we never did before. He shows us even a password-input box can be an escape hatch, as well as a trapdoor.

Just over three years ago, the Dazed 100-er assembled 30 actors and friends, gave them profiles scalped from students studying at University of California, and got them to start playing these parts. Over the course of three months at the end of 2011, the social network was turned into a performance space where a semi-structured sitcom played out. There's the college goth, falling in love with the kind-hearted everyguy, the jocks whose nasty pranks go way too far, the out-and-proud guy struggling with his closeted boyf. 

Drugs, spells, ball games and parties, losing at love and finding yourself – all the hallmarks of university life playing out over Facebooks the world over. But this time, the keggers, camping trips, fallouts and make-outs happened solely in the imaginations and screens of the cast. All of these Berkley kids are totally real, and also entirely in the mind of a bunch of friends from London. It's taking the most massive and / or everyday place that's been invented, ever, and turning it into a space for alternative realities. It's taking the world's most banal platform and making it a platform for art, politics and advocacy. It's a bit creepy, really funny, got Ed into trouble with the bots, but it stands as one of the best net-art performance pieces ever.  

Confused? Well, Dean Kissick, an excellent writer-editor, and participant in the project, has taken the mass of raw material produced on the private Facebook network, and created a Tumblr-novel out of it: which we're launching exclusively here

You can view it by clicking through its 12 episodes here, read an nterview with Ed underneath and check out the cast biogs under that. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wonder why, given the chance, you've not spent six weeks pretending to be an NBA-star in the making flunking out of Sigma-Chi. Because, hey, the possibilites really are endless, when you think about it. 

How did Dorm Daze come about?

Ed Fornieles: Dorm Daze was a performance on Facebook set in the University of California, Berkeley, for which 34 participants inhabited 34 scalped profiles over the course of three months. By “scalped”, I mean that we took all the available data from real users’ Facebook pages. As the characters interacted with each other a narrative began to unfold, which ranged from the mundane to the extremes of witchcraft, exorcism and makeshift terrorist cells. The content produced by the Dorm Daze network has been the basis for several art shows, a short film, and a short novel which is now available on Tumblr here.

The Tumblr takes you on an adventure from first arriving at college, to partying and falling in love, to a hopeless place.

So you took content from real college students, can you tell us a little about this?

Ed Fornieles: Dorm Daze worked within the framework of the current policy on privacy, it absorbed all open content in small networks that existed in Berkeley at the time. Like Facebook itself, Dorm Daze viewed Facebook users as data pools to be used to its own ends, and each profile scalped became the prototype of a new character (data body), with its own likes, dislikes and more importantly its own image.

It took place over a series of months, only semi-scripted. How did it evolve beyond your original vision, or even your control?

Ed Fornieles: Everything in the Dorm Daze network started to hyper-accelerate over a period of three months. In the beginning, all the stories grounded themselves in the everyday of sitcom narratives. Imaginary parties allowed the characters to bond into groups: the frat house, the sorority, the indie kids and outsiders. Once these groups were established a period of calm led to a more active phase of fantasy, horror and romance. Dorm Daze became a very spongy place, that continuously absorbed new fictions and current events such as the Occupy movement or Proposition 8.

For one character, Dorm Daze became a platform from which to talk about gay rights and speak out against the abuse infringed upon him by other fictional characters when responding to the archetypes assigned to them. This is how the deconstruction of these archetypes began. The surface tensions between indie and frat, or misogynist and female participants played themselves out, to finally be left hanging. The need to keep some sort of narrative alive also meant a need for role reversal: power positions were flipped and everyone started to become unstuck.

Dorm Daze aimed to unleash latent productive forces towards the building of this new fiction. The current infrastructure is not a capitalist stage to be smashed, but a springboard to generate and host alternative realities.

This is a performance work that took place on Facebook. How did the limits and structures of Facebook condition the piece?

Ed Fornieles: Dorm Daze, in a way, pushed against the algorithmic environment within which it existed (the numbers, the data that feeds Facebook and other social media), turning analytics into a redundancy. In Dorm Daze likes, comments and posts have a different meaning, they become tools for storytelling, and adverts and suggested friends become repurposed as scenery or props to a new fiction.

Dorm Daze aimed to unleash latent productive forces towards the building of this new fiction. The current infrastructure is not a capitalist stage to be smashed, but a springboard to generate and host alternative realities. Dorm Daze was a petri dish, where the tools systematically used by Facebook users on a normal basis became the means to generate another world, unstuck from your own gender, race and personal narratives. In this new environment realities were plastic, and archetypes, film logic and world news became a material that could be communally sculpted.

What’s next for you?

Ed Fornieles: I’m building a spa in Stockholm.

Here's Dean and Ed's list of characters – follow out everything they get up to over on,

Amy is the Alpha Delta Pi sorority president. An attractive young lady, she likes sticking to the rules and doesn't like fun. She has a 14-year-old sister, Lauren.

Surgeon’s daughter Blair is a slutty blonde cheerleader from high school in Orange County. Shes just arrived on campus and is used to having her way. She likes throwing up after visits to the Cheesecake Factory

Just an ordinary dude form and ordinary house in ordinaryville, Andy has come to California to expand his horizons, and to study English Literature.

Cassie is and otherworldly goth girl that loves Spell Club and night-time. All the boys find her hypnotically beautiful, they want to be fucked and murdered by her, but darkness is her only friend.

College sophomore Abbey is a hippy who lives in a Vibe Wolf House, where she enjoys looking at flowers and smoking weed.

A pastor’s daughter from Salt Lake City, young Stephanie is a patriot and a devout Mormon. She believes that abstinence is the source of all Earthly joy. But, can college’s forbidden please change her mind?

Brought up by a single mother in Las Vegas, thoughtful Laura loves jogging, positive thinking mantras, and manatees. She has unusually ginormous boobies, and wishes to make the world a better place. 

Chinese-American homosexual Robert is a kind, handsome man with a lust for life. He is looking forward to college, and to making the most of all the opportunities that it has to offer him. 

Scott is a sophomore student and president of Vibe Wolf House, an alternative community on campus offering home-cooked vegan food and yoga classes. His favourite whale is the orca, and he is very much in love with his girlfriend Abbey. 

Spoilt, cocaine-addled journalism student Taylor is highly untrustworthy, and only cares about himself. No-one likes him, his only friend is his psychedelic pet toad. 

Never turning up to any classes, shady millionaire’s son James mostly hangs out in San Francisco with a girl with wings. He is a Marxist and thinks someone is shadowing him everywhere he goes, but maybe he’s just paranoid. 

Jake is a mad young basketball star with hoop dreams of playing in the NBA. He’s attending Berkeley on a sports scholarship, and doesn’t care about anything other than girls, and Taco Bell, and weed. He is a nihilist.

A young, cute boy from the countryside, a beetroot farmer’s son, Rickey is innocent and sexually confused. He’s never had a best friend, not at all, however he’s hoping to find one at college. Will he though? 

Brad is originally from Boston, where his parents both work as professors, He seems like a sweet dude, but is perpetually unlucky in love, but maybe that’s about to change! 

Totally the hottest girl on campus, Michaela is a spoilt babe from uptown New York who loves designer sunglasses, high heels, and handbags. She likes Blair but worries that everyone else is disgusting-looking. 

Wealthy sorority girl Drew is shallow, oh so very shallow, and all she wishes for is a popular boyfriend, any will do. She loves spas and salads. 

Alex is a wonder student who may, or may not, be suffering from some sort of shadow syndrome. He is the cleverest person at the University of California. 

A college sophomore that drives an SUV. A Sigma Pi fraternity president that loves to party. Michael is the American dream. He’s in a long-term relationship with Amy, but can he stay faithful? 

And all their friends!

Check out the Dorm Daze Book on Tumblr here