At the time of the publication of my first novel in 2001, autofiction was at the heart of all literary conversations. Personally, I had no desire to stage my existence. On the contrary, writing fiction was for me a way to explore otherness.
The central character of my first novel is a creature of science ; the narrator of my second, a woman obsessed with her appearance who has undergone countless cosmetic surgeries. For this second title, it was wrongly assumed that I had succumbed to the call of autofiction. Instead, I tried to capture an approach to feminism that deeply irritated me. Entering the body of a character radically different from me is learning to better understand the other.
I've barely brushed the surface of autofiction with The Imago Stage. For the narrative needs of this novel, I had to immerse myself in the stream of consciousness of a woman of my generation, to place her in front of the television from her birth and to later introduce her to the digital continent. I wasn't seeking to highlight my personal history, but rather that of a collective desire for the image and the way it has completely imposed itself in our culture, to the point of immersing us in an increasingly virtual world.
Autofiction, therefore, has never been a stimulating creative path for me.
Moreover, I was not comfortable with the idea of showing myself, of highlighting my face, my gender, my age, everything that demands a label, a classification. I even juggled with the possibility of publishing under a pseudonym. I don't remember why I didn't do it. I didn't see the relevance of associating a person's physiognomy with their work. In fact, I was writing to slip into another skin and, logically, I should have created a different face for each of the narrative entities I created.
On second thought, I did. The narrator of La Mue de l'hermaphrodite appears on the cover of the reissue of the text at Bibliothèque québécoise. The gray child of Under the Stone is on the cover of the original edition at Alto. Anouk A., the avatar behind which the narrator of the novel The Imago Stage hides, poses frontally on the cover image. These are the faces that matter. Not mine.
When the time came to publish my first book, therefore, after much reflection and a lot of anxiety, I decided to create a media identity from the aesthetics of my pictorial works. These images were very contrasted, in black and white. My first website, in 2004, was completely monochrome. It still is, twenty years later. My first author portrait, published by Leméac, shows me in profile, eyes closed, in an almost blurry dreamlike image. I was hiding as best I could.
All this to say that I never wanted to play with my image.
At least, not until the advent of AI.
Artificial intelligence is the central theme of my two novels in progress. It is a creative tool that fascinates me more and more.
These days, I'm having fun training an AI. Initially, I had a very specific project : to amalgamate about thirty self-portraits created over 35 years. Create a synthesis of my appearance. A palimpsest of all my ages to access my true face. I saw there a poetic act. A kind of pursuit of my quest for the sublime, through my reflection. A reflection no longer ephemeral, but transtemporal.
By adding 3D modeling renders to the model representing me, I multiply the possibilities. Autofiction takes on a whole new meaning : it transforms into fiction generated by an algorithm, which isguided by my literary instructions.
My face, first captured from different angles and types of light, has transformed into a personalized pictorial language. I create fictional self-portraits that nevertheless reveal my true features. Within the images, I recognize myself and I am another, simultaneously.
I could say the same thing about my novels. I immerse myself in a body that I embody virtually, for the duration of a narrative. This doubling is liberating and wildly exhilarating. I write to transform myself into a fictional character. With AI, I discover photographic autofiction in a literal way. My image is no longer fixed by some external gaze, it is no longer anxiety-inducing; it becomes a modelling clay, flexible, fluid, infinitely mutable.
The process of creating from my synthetic alter ego is just beginning.
digital images | text :