22.09.16 – Introduction

Today’s introductory lecture revolved mainly around these three terms: Representation, Simulation and Simulacra. Apart from learning their definitions, we also discussed the differences between each and whether any of them are interchangeable.

Representation
This is a reflection of reality and could be considered as an interpretation of one’s view of something. For example, if one were to photograph an animal, that photograph is a representation of that particular animal in the form of an image. However, it does not include any characteristics of that animal such as it’s behaviour.

Simulation
Consists of a set of actions displaying a particular situation that is meant to deceive. Unlike representation, simulation is something that does, or at least tries to, embody the behaviour and characteristics of the object it is simulating. This results in a more believable and immersive experience.

Simulacra
Similar to a representation, a simulacra is merely an image of something which does not embody any characteristics of the object. However it supercedes representation in terms of accuracy and power since the audience tends to assume it is real. Unlike a simulation, we are not aware that we are being deceived. A good example of a simulacra are adverts which fool us into thinking certain things are real when they are in fact not.

A Hyperreal World

With technology advancing so rapidly we can anticipate flawless and extremely realistic simulations in the near future – so real it would make it impossible for us to distinguish the difference between the real and the made up. This is referred to Hyperreality. But is hyperrreality a thing of the future or have we already entered this world?

Media theorist Jean Baudrillard believes that the artificial has already replaced the real and that the virtual has existed for centuries. Information being fed to us, whether through computers, magazines or newspapers, has been mediated and somewhat “altered”, giving a different and “false” representation of reality.

He also refers to Disneyland as an example of hyperreality as it is a place where people’s imagination and curiosities and satisfied by man-made objects. He states that “it is a deterrence machine set up in order to rejuvenate in reverse the fiction of the real” meaning that it creates an illusion of what reality really is. In his opinion, hyperreality has a negative impact on society and argues that it blurs the distinction between what’s real and what’s a representation, to the point where we are unsure whether our experiences are real or not.

[Source: https://filmsandthings.org/2013/02/01/hyperreality-in-the-media/%5D

During my research I came across a few videos that explore the theme of hyperreality.

Is Hyperreality good or bad?

Every new technology comes along with its advantages and disadvantages. One has to be careful to not get imprisoned in the virtual world which could lead to the withdrawal from the real world. The Phantomat is an imaginary machine created by polish science-fiction writer Stanislaw Lem. He goes on to explain the dangers of the virtual world it creates as we would be only interacting “with a world we know only in part, and which operates independently of our desire” and since that world is fabricated from our dreams “nothing can be hurt or destroyed because nothing really exists.

[Source: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=VrXBCQAAQBAJ&pg=PT102&lpg=PT102&dq=john+gray+the+phantomat&source=bl&ots=0zt1fs9bc9&sig=d5UD6sSO5JTKw_xe4XiP902_dws&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiNj-j9q6rPAhXlLMAKHQVaAiQQ6AEIIzAB#v=onepage&q=john%20gray%20the%20phantomat&f=false]

However, in my opinion hyperreality is not something that should be solely feared and hated. Similar to watching films and playing games, a “virtual” world could act as a form of escapism. It is an entirely different world and reality which we can escape to and immerse ourselves in. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing to do as certain simulation worlds allow us to be whoever we want to be, giving us the opportunity to explore our identities further and therefore can be viewed as an “extension” of our life.

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