The Picture of Dorya Glenn is a collaboration between Chinese novelist/artist Julie O’Yang and Belgian photographer Filip Naudts. Full of layers, the story, at its core is this: A writer has created Dorya Glenn, a character from another time who visits Earth. Dorya and the author become obsessions for a photographer. The three perform a murderous, surrealistic tango that leaps from writing table to French countryside to outer space.
Julie and I met on Facebook, introduced by another writer, Jeremy Fernando. One of her books is called Butterfly and that is how I perceive her; colorful and beautifully defiant of gravity. I was jealous when I heard of her plans to collaborate with a photographer. The results of her work with Filip, however, intrigued and impressed me and I wanted to know a bit more. Thus, this interview.
Dorya Glenn is very multidimensional: Oscar Wilde,cyberspace, Belgium, the future, outer space and romance. The text is an alien Surrealist's journal; the photographs are part fashion magazine, part film noir. Will the book be a kind of photo manga hybrid, or something like a magazine or something else?
J: Maybe I want to wake up Oscar Wilde by making some UFO sounds, that's all. Dorya Glenn is about telling a good story. Moreover, we want to address a few urgent issues. Some examples are the dictatorship of our current image culture, cyber surveillance, the worldwide immigration crisis etc. We might have used a new, different plate to serve the story, but the plate rather came to us, just like a UFO.
F: Where our collaboration leads us is a mystery to us too... I consider Dorya Glenn a laboratory sample; a chemical fusion between me and a writer, my cultural background fusing with her skills. But it's more. Our action is in the live interaction itself: my photography interacts with Julie's fantastic art of words. The book will be hardcover, which is necessary to hold the richness of the content to present to our readers.
You are working with text, photography, cyberarts, video and music; a song by Arno. Plus, the text and photography, of course. Can you talk about the collaboration process? Do you two take turns, or agree almost all of the time, or have heated discussions or what?
J: We've danced. It's very beautiful. The Picture of Dorya Glenn is a classic erotic thriller with a feminist touch.
F: We have neither time nor any reason for long heated dicussions during the entire process. Our battle is fought in the story. It's the battle between words and pictures and the latter certainly won! Whoops, I think Julie wants to read passages out of the book to prove me wrong. Well, you have to read our story to decide which of us gets killed in the end, because we are not sure ourselves.
Biggest challenge so far?
F: I agree with Julie. Extremely tough and embarrassing. Artists shouldn't be busy worrying about where does money come from. If a crowdfunding manager is reading us, please get in touch.
Nicest surprise so far?
J: I like acting & performance and did better than I expected from myself. And it is the superpower that Filip the photographer gave me!
F: The fused creative powers result in huge impact. Our project stands for creative and cultural collaborations.
Regarding Kickstarter, have you had any surprises or learned anything?
J: It scared me. It still does. But I do feel more powerful. I guess it's called character building.
F: I will never become a successful salesman.
Favorite or most dramatic section of the book?
J: All of it. And the last scene...is fireworks. Actually I'm working on a list of special sci-fi words I have invented for the story, it's pushing the edge of imaginative power.
F: The suspense in the erotic scene.
The security cameras and their recordings are most valued by whom?
A: Privacy and surveillance culture are recurring ideas. Surveillance cameras document and create realities with a constant neutrality, unlike writing, which involves transformation of both the writer and the reader. Writing also involves sacrifices on the part of the writer. Sometimes the writer needs to "kill" herself so that the protagonist comes alive. The surveillance cameras document this internal battle, as well as actual scenes that show or suggest violence related to sex, gender or race. Orwell had Big Brother, perhaps our surveillance cameras are Big Mother...
The costume was made by Monika Acman for Dorya on our request. She is a Polish tailor living in Belgium. In the text, Dorya is Julia Oz, a figment of the writer's imagination. According to Julia it's an ancient ritual on Dorya's planet to "re-veil" a chosen woman; this allows her to become worthy of worship. Dorya Glenn unifies our universe with hers. In both, to some degree, she is both idol and dictator.
Section of the book which best exemplifies the battle between text and photography?
J: The whole story is a tango between word and image. And remember: it takes three to tango. We have three main characters in the story that are there to explain the ideological conflict between the writer and the photographer. Who is the third person?
F: The security camera taking a picture of the photographer taking a picture of the writer's legs under the table, while she is writing the story in which he is playing an important part.
What is Dorya's relationship with the photographer?
The photographer is infatuated with her, his photographs show Dorya Glenn as a sex goddess. This is destructive-but for whom?
To extend the experimentatino that is Dorya, I created a little project here.