Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007)• French sociologist, cultural theorist, author, political commentator• His best known theories involve hyperreality and simulation
Simulacra and Simulation Jean Baudrillard Ben Jillard, Jon Doering, Sam Trieu Contemporary Critical Theory Professor V. Lamont February 2011
Inﬂuences• Structuralism, Marxism, Sociology• Transitions through different schools of thought• Labelled: Post-structuralist, Post- Marxist, Post-Modernist• Offers one view of postmodern condition (Lyotard, Jameson)
Simulacres et simulations• Published 1981 (Editions Galilée) / English translation 1994 (University of Michigan Press)• Series of short essays written at different times, applies & extends theory from The Precession of Simulacra• Deconstructive approach to reality, symbols/sign systems, mass media, culture and society
How to read S&S• It provides both a theory about how we construct and “simulate” reality, and a social/cultural critique • Theoretical Dimension Draws together sociology, media studies, semiotics, history, and philosophy. Though about reality, S&S is not a work of metaphysics • Critique Dimension Application of theory to criticize aspects of American culture, consumer culture, TV, capital, science, and politics
How to (mis)read S&S Baudrillard’s style draws criticism for its: Aphoristic writing Hyperbolic statements Politically charged examples
S&S in a nutshell • Today, reality has been replaced by sign systems that recodify and supplant the real. Simulation precedes and determines the real. • Mass media shapes these symbols as agents of representation, not communication. “People come to live in pure Mass media creates a new culture of signs, images and codes without referential simulations, replications of reality value, and are exchangeable. that resemble it in all respects save they are representatives • Contemporary society consumes these empty signs of status and identity having through and through” (Rivkin & lost the ability to make sense of the distinction between the natural and the Ryan 365) simulation.“The era of simulation is thus everywhere...All the great humanist criteria of value, all the values of a civilization of moral, aesthetic, and practical judgement, vanish in our system of images and signs. -’Symbolic Exchange and Death’ (1976)
What is Simulation?• Simulation is deﬁned as copies without originals. • Where dissimulation (feigning) leaves the principle of reality intact... • Simulation threatens the difference between the ‘true’ and the ‘false’, the ‘real’ and the ‘imaginary’.(3)“Simulation is no longer a referential being or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreality” (Baudrillard 1)
What is Simulacrum?• A simulacrum is “a copy without an original” and is a term for the condition produced by simulation usurping reality. • Is a system of empty signs that signal the destruction of any original source. The empty signs refer back to themselves. They have no meaning or value; exchanged for more signs • No longer measures itself against anything else (real or imaginary); thus it ceases to be real and becomes simulation...the hyperreal
Simulation vs Simulacrum Simulation generally refers to a process in motion, whereas simulacrum (plural simulacra) refers to a more static image
Simulation is a 4 step process of destabilizing and replacing reality 1. Faithful - The image reflects a profound reality Portrait2. Perversion - The image masks and denatures a profound reality Icon3. Pretense - The image masks the absence of a profound reality Disneyland 4. Pure - The image has no relation to any reality whatsoever, it is its own pure simulacrum. “The ultimate Matrix”
Causes of Simulacra(um)• Media culture• Economics: Exchange-value, multi-national capitalism, urbanization• Language and Ideology
Simulacra and Ethnology“We have all become livingspecimens in the spectral light ofethnology...[I]t is thus very naiveto look for ethnology in theSavages or in some Third World -it is here, everywhere...in a worldcompletely cataloged andanalyzed,then artiﬁcially resurrectedunder the auspices of thereal...” (8) Video: http://www.uncontactedtribes.org/brazilfootage
The Growth of SimulacraBaudrillard saw the stages of societal growth mirroring the growth of simulacra: • First Order|Pre-modern| Image as clearly placemark for real object, signs reﬂect life. ie. Renaissance art. • Second Order|Modern| Image as commodity/ production, signs mark absence of reality. ie. Industrial Revolution mass reproduction, no referent. • Third Order|Post-modern| Simulacrum precedes original; reality and sign nondistinguishable. The real is already always reproduced.
What is Hyperreal? • Hyperreal: A world of simulacra where nothing is unmediated (ie-without previous meaning, without intermediary mass media) • Media and medium mediate our experience without our noticing. • We know that we are living in a mediated world, but in result of the ubiquity of the simulation life is now "spectralised...the event ﬁltered by the medium-- the dissolution of tv into life, the dissolution of life into TV" (55).
Hyperreal Example • The American Dream as simulacra of? • Culture and media create and perpetuate the hyperreal. • Whatever experiences in our lives that are mediated are all simulations. Whatever is mediated is what is simulated.Freedom from Want. Norman Rockwell, 1943
“reality tv as “exhumation of the real in its fundamental banality, in its radical authenticity (27)” Reality television or cinema verite as hyperreal
The Consumer Society and the Linear Nature of HistoryWhy can’t we ever go back? • Kraus and Auer: “Because we feel lost in this artiﬁcial world of simulacra, of copies without originals...we nostalgically cling to outworn concepts such as reality, truth and reason. This self deluded craving generates a ‘panic stricken production of the real and of the referential, parallel to and greater than the panic of material production’. ” Simulacrum America (2000) • History is understood as linear. Society builds off events and assigns truth through signiﬁers. The result is the state we live in now...the hyperreal
The hyperreal All previous presidents pay for and continue to pay for Kennedys murder as if they were the ones who had suppressed it - which is true phantasmatically, if not in fact…”(25)Cold War Kennedy Assassination Holocaust
What is Myth?• Myth to Baudrillard is a ≠ Coffee lost referential.• Today, technology and mass media have made =morality, a myth. a lifestyle, a consumption of objects a new tribal myth and shared morality
What is Mobian Compulsion?• Mobian compulsion: Under post-modern culture, all referentials combine their discourse in a circular reconciliation and assimilation. • Two things diametrically opposed are not really that different in reality. • Given time a good and an evil will reconcile and be seen as one in the same, intertwined and essential for each other. -Sex and work -piercings/tattoos and counterculture
On Baudrillard• Beaudrillard is a critical observer. He does not offer solutions.• His observations point out the human condition is based on simulations of the idea of reality.• Reality is in the past and is corrupted beyond the point of recognition.• All societies will, and have, collapsed due to these forces only to have new ones arise to fall victim all over again.• The reader’s task is to extrapolate, interpret and enact solutions.
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