“In my work I deconstruct websites and the user’s overall online experience. Frequently my digital compositions have been realized as inkjet prints or larger paintings on wood panel, but this exhibition has given me the opportunity to produce a site-specific work on a grand scale.
Lawndale Art Center has used the social networking website MySpace to promote itself and its exhibitions since early 2006, and its collection of friends (other MySpace users) has grown rapidly. I decided to emphasize the connectivity of this relationship by creatingLawndale Has Many Friends, an abstraction of the Friends section of Lawndale’s own MySpace site. At the time of my proposal for this exhibition (early March 2007), Lawndale had 509 friends indexed over thirteen Friends pages. By the timeI started production of the piece on May 5, the number of friends had jumped to 571. Five months later, the list had swelled to 756, and there are surely more today.
The iconic blue, white, and gray template of the MySpaceFriends page has been painted fourteen times directly on the gallery walls. The connecting lines are there both to help simulate an online user’s clickable pathway through these pages, and to bridge the individual panels together. Instead of painting the 560 friend icons on the wall, I have chosen the more flexible system of hanging physical models of them on rods. This allows my installation to perform in much the same manner as the MySpace website.When new friends are added to a user’s profile on MySpace, the user’s updated Friends list is subject tore-ordering. Similarly, this installation will change during the course of the exhibition; new friend icons will be added to the gallery periodically, and the order of the hangings, as well as the random banner ads at the top of each template, will be rearranged. Like the actual MySpace website, where there is no stasis, this installation will be modified in subtle ways over time, thus uncovering a maze of networking activity while simultaneously reconfiguring itself as a work of art in flux.
Lawndale Has Many Friends is an abstraction of Lawndale’s Friends listing as it existed on May 5th, 2007. As of the exhibition’s opening, only the first 560 friends (of the 571 in the list at that time) are being presented.
The development and production of this installation has been documented on its own MySpace page, which may be viewed at www.myspace.com/bplawndale.”
Brian Piana lives and works in Houston, TX. He holds an MS degree in Visualization Science (TexasA&M University, 2000) and an MFA in Photography/Digital Media (University of Houston, 2007). His work has been included in three recent group exhibitions:Native Sons, Fotofest, Houston (2006);TexasNational 2007, Stephen F. Austin State University, The Art Center, Nacogdoches, TX; andSchool of ArtMasters Thesis Exhibition, University of Houston, Blaffer Gallery, Houston (2007). Lawndale Has Many Friends is Piana’s first solo exhibition.