Étude de cas

Case study

La photographie comme engin paranoïaque

Photography as paranoia engine

Benoît Aquin

Benoît Aquin

La Dimension éthérique du réseau par Anton Bequii

The Network’s Etheric Dimension by Anton Bequii

La Dimension éthérique du réseau par Anton Bequii

The Network’s Etheric Dimension by Anton Bequii








A monkey perched on scaffolding in Kathmandu; a low-resolution portrait of Anton Bequii taken in a photo booth; an unexceptional green plant; heavily broadcast media footage taken just before the close-range shooting of a policeman during the Charlie Hebdo attacks: this astonishing series of images ushers the viewer into the psychotic universe of Anton Bequii, artistic alter ego of Benoit Aquin.

La dimension éthérique du reseau par Anton Bequii (“the network’s ethereal dimension by Anton Bequii,” available in French only) continues with images from around the world including cell phone towers, a military drill, an “all-seeing eye,” hotel rooms, and a lunar eclipse—so many intimations of a paranoia that seems to shroud the fictitious author. Yet certain images, such as an abstract composition the index lists as roots, a leech, and two seagulls on a lamppost reveal that, even in the throes of his pessimism, Bequii never loses his ability to marvel at the rich variety of nature, in all its beauty and its ugliness.


La dimension éthérique du réseau par Anton Bequii

Benoit Aquin

Éditions Photosynthèses

8 × 11 in.

Number of pages

Production notes
Hard cover, silkscreen on canvas, hot stamping

EBS – Editoriale Bortolazzi Stei S.R.L.
Verona, Italy


Text and photos: © Benoit Aquin
This edition: © Éditions Photosynthèses/Libella, Paris 2019

Ruptures 1, 2, and 3

While the book’s early pages juxtapose Aquin’s own photographs with images gleaned online, the flow is soon ruptured. First is an annotated reproduction of a double-page spread from Propagandes by critic of technology and philosopher of alienation Jacques Ellul. The marked passages from the 1962 book feel eerily topical today and evoke Bequii’s interest in conspiracy theories in the face of technological totalitarianism.

During the book design process, Benoit Aquin was asked whether it would be possible to obtain first editions of Propagandes or La technique ou l’enjeu du siècle. Aquin rose to the challenge, and the books showed up on his doorstep a few days later, but not without leaving traces of their journey on the web.

Just four pages after the Ellul spread, a video still with oversaturated, thermal imaging-like colours plunges us into abstraction. Digital processing by Benoit Aquin’s alter ego has remade an image viewed countless times around the world into something unfamiliar. The index informs us that it depicts the moment United Airlines Flight 175 came crashing into the World Trade Center’s South Tower. Other highly aestheticized images of historical events—the Iraq War, the Fukushima tsunami, the Baltimore riots, Islamic State militants—are deliberately arranged in one long sequence in the heart of the book; certain images seem almost to slip from the book’s frame and bleed through to other pages.

Surprisingly, Bequii does not claim full authorship of these images. “While it is true that these images were created using a spontaneous process whose techniques I control, it is equally true that my own feelings in no way circumscribe their meaning.” In other words, Bequii accepts that the algorithms he so dreads are also, to some extent, the authors of his work.

The last section is a one-way correspondence in which Anton Bequii opens his heart to a nebulous figure named Elena. He describes his social awkwardness, his radical political engagement, his enslavement to technology, his concerns about omnipresent surveillance cameras, and his theory that YouTube is the greatest agent of radicalization in the 21st century. Bequii connects the dots between our polarized world and the binary language of algorithms, the fourth dimension, his spiritual quest, and his love for her.

A patchwork narrative

In the ways the images and discursive layers intertwine, La dimension éthérique du reseau par Anton Bequii turns the codes of the photobook upside down. Book design often makes itself felt precisely where the designer’s involvement is least noticeable. While the layout is somewhat spare, the book’s editorial structure creates sense out of disorder to render the multiple layers of entanglement in this touching, complex story—a story Benoit Aquin took six years to weave.



Editorial design

Raphaël Daudelin

Graphic design

Raphaël Daudelin



Benoît Aquin

Editorial director

Marco Zappone

Publishing assistant

Christelle Fontaine

Production monitoring

Géraldine Boilley-Hautbois



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