[ISEA2023] Panel: Alexandra Saemmer, Nolwenn Tréhondart & Sébastien Appiotti — The historical fictional profile on social media: a pointer and symbiotic witness to contemporary society

Panel Statement

Theme: Social Experiences, Subtheme: Symbiotic Individuations

Keywords: Fictional profile, digital identity, electronic literature, social networks, animei, platform capitalism, re-enactment, performance, memory.

The possibility – and the pleasure – of passing for some-one else did not emerge with social media. However, the fact that, as the saying goes, “on the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog”, has made building fictitious identities much easier. We will in this panel explore the hypothesis that beyond trivial experiments with pseudonyms, the option of experimenting with “versions of oneself” on social platforms has given rise to a new genre, that we term “fictional profiles”. Our study is based more specifically around digital native profile-based works: auto-fictional or heteronymous characters that, in some cases, write and publish alone, and in others interact within “metaverse” narratives. We will consider the fictional profile as a symbiotic agent, pointer and witness to contemporary society. After a general introduction to the genre and a critical discussion of methodologies to identify its specificities, we will focus on three re-enactments of historical figures in the form of sensory and affective performative practices on Facebook and Instagram. Our study of profile-based works is an attempt to grasp these ways of existing on social networks.