warehouse warehouse

Iterative Beings

by Lou Morlier

As someone who plays video-games a lot and spend much time on the Internet, I have been thinking about the way we create variations of ourselves in each of our avatars. These do not simply represent the user in the computer realm: each character becomes a possible iteration of the individual who sits in front of the screen. While I first experienced this phenomenon by playing RPGs, I observed it in other screen-related practices. Namely ASMR videos, vlogging, live streaming or even cosplaying. The act of self-documentation implies a projection – here even a screening – of identity. Thus it becomes the instrument of infinite autofictions evolving in parallel realities.

I observed with empathy these materials, sitting in front of my computer, thinking of a way to bear witness of their curiosities. At a more practical level, I analyzed the interfaces and devices used to create these parallel realities, as much as I payed attention to the behaviors of their makers and to the norms defining their practices.

At first my investigation led me to negate all forms of objectivity: the so-called real world is already a fiction – it is as the individual knows it and everyone has its own version of the story. At this point, it seems to me that there is no point in trying to distinguish what is real, fictional or virtual. I would rather try to expose different degrees / scales / strata of lived experiences, in a phenomenological approach. This posture and the things I observed found their echo in the concept of hyperreality, a contemporary paradigm described by Jean Baudrillard – amongst otherswhich is defined on Wikipedia as “a condition in which what is real and what is fiction are seamlessly blended together so that there is no clear distinction between where one ends and the other begins” and as “reality through proxy”.

Besides, I feel like acknowledging life as fiction makes it a playground – although it may not necessarily be joyful. As a game might be both very playful and incredibly unforgiving; this will be a concern for my gaming alter-ego.

I struggled to find a fitting and inspiring method to depict those phenomenon, although I have been using this kind of contents to create works of my own. Then I thought I may become the fiction myself in order to describe and document these realities. It implies to place myself at the service of the phenomenon instead of subduing it to my fashions, and offers the possibility of rediscovering myself through foreign uses – or rather being discovered by these practices.

This is where it went from merely interesting to personally inspiring. I could break free from the mono-ego’s chains and unbosom the disunited states of my psyche. I could shape a conatus – as described by Spinoza, continually seeking to persist and augment itself – made of modelling dough. One that can be split but remains singular in its plurality. I, unique but not united.

Like an anthropologist willing to participate in a tribe’s rite to get a better understanding of it, I engaged in making my own YouTube simulacra.

Three alter-egos and their respective channels have emerged:

Please click the titles to access their channels

Sovereignless Soul

— gaming videos —

He loves playing roleplay video-games as much as like giving his opinion and exposing his feelings about his gaming experiences. Thus he will show live or recorded gameplay – commented or edited in his own fashion – and he will make presentations about some specific games or topics. Dark Souls, a Japanese RPG series developed by FromSoftware and published by Namco Bandai Games, is his field of predilection and what led him into making YouTube videos.

This one would be closer to my everyday self and more directly inspired by it, although I never felt the need to make such videos.

inspiration for Sovereignless Soul

WhispersFromTheDeep

— ASMR videos —

He tells mesmerizing stories, in which the spectator is sometimes the protagonist. His channel develop oral storytelling as a way to provoke sensations. ASMR being its chosen medium, his contents focus heavily on aural experience. As the channel’s name suggests, the content will treat with themes such as the inner self, introspection and darkness.

Although ASMR videos are an oddity to me, this channel may resonate with my own inclination for writing and narratives.

inspiration for WFTD

PurJus

— vlogs —

He is a meta-Narcissus – taking a picture of himself looking at the captured reflection of himself, creating an infinite mise en abîme of his self-absorbed ego. As I am looking at myself through these characters, gazing within in an outward motion. Yet he is the one I will need to invest myself in the most, as he films himself on a quotidian basis, thus overlapping with my own life.

His behavior in front of the camera shall be symptomatic of the internet culture of randomness, and how it is precisely not random but has become an online social norm.

He is more of an alienated version of me than the others, and this very alien nature is what makes him particularly fascinating to me.

inspiration for PurJus

Lou Morlier born in august 1994 in the northwestern countryside of France. 22 years old. Obtained a Bachelor of Cinema and Literature at Université Lumière Lyon II in 2015, and is now attending a Master of Arts at Haute Ecole des Arts du Rhin. Morlier organizes the encounter of fetched materials, introduced in foreign environments. Trying – in the manner of an essayist – to unravel the subaqueous meanings of the relics he gathers during his digital cruises. Sometimes archeologist or ethnologist, sometimes fantasist or tightrope walker, documenting and manipulating random things he comes across, in a motion of poetic revamping.