Monday, 31 December 2012

Hyperreality

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Hyperreality is used in semiotics and postmodern philosophy to describe an inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from a simulation of reality, especially in technologically advanced post-modern societies. Hyperreality is a way of characterizing what our consciousness defines as "real" in a world where a multitude of media can radically shape and filter an original event or experience. Some famous theorists of hyperreality include Jean Baudrillard, Albert Borgmann, Daniel Boorstin, and Umberto Eco.

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[edit] Origins and usage

Most aspects of hyperreality can be thought of as "reality by proxy." Some examples are simpler: the McDonald's "M" arches allegedly make the material promise of endless amounts of identical food from the store, when in "reality" the "M" represents nothing, and the food produced is neither identical nor infinite, as a person would expect from a fast food restaurant.[1]
Baudrillard in particular suggests that the world we live in has been replaced by a copy world, where we seek simulated stimuli and nothing more. Baudrillard borrows, from Jorge Luis Borges' "On Exactitude in Science" (who already borrowed from Lewis Carroll), the example of a society whose cartographers create a map so detailed that it covers the very things it was designed to represent. When the empire declines, the map fades into the landscape and there is neither the representation nor the real remaining – just the hyperreal. Baudrillard's idea of hyperreality was heavily influenced by phenomenology, semiotics, and Marshall McLuhan.

[edit] Significance

Hyperreality is significant as a paradigm to explain current cultural conditions. Consumerism, because of its reliance on sign exchange value (e.g. brand X shows that one is fashionable, car Y indicates one's wealth), could be seen as a contributing factor in the creation of hyperreality or the hyperreal condition. Hyperreality tricks consciousness into detaching from any real emotional engagement, instead opting for artificial simulation, and endless reproductions of fundamentally empty appearance. Essentially, (although Baudrillard himself may balk at the use of this word) fulfillment or happiness is found through simulation and imitation of a transient simulacrum of reality, rather than any interaction with any "real" reality.
Interacting in a hyperreal place like a casino gives the subject the impression that one is walking through a fantasy world where everyone is playing along. The decor isn't authentic, everything is a copy, and the whole thing feels like a dream.

[edit] Definitions

[edit] Quotations

"Henceforth, it is the map that precedes the territory - precession of simulacra - it is the map that engenders the territory and if we were to revive the fable today, it would be the territory whose shreds are slowly rotting across the map." - Baudrillard, "The Precession of Simulacra," Simulacra and Simulation

[edit] Examples

[edit] Disneyland

Both Umberto Eco and Jean Baudrillard refer to Disneyland as an exemplar of hyperreality. Eco believes that Disneyland with its settings such as Main Street and full sized houses has been created to look "absolutely realistic," taking visitors' imagination to a "fantastic past."[6] This false reality creates an illusion and makes it more desirable for people to buy this reality. Disneyland works in a system that enables visitors to feel that technology and the created atmosphere "can give us more reality than nature can."[7] The fake animals such as alligators and hippopotamuses are all available to people in Disneyland and for everyone to see. The "fake nature" of Disneyland satisfies our imagination and daydream fantasies in real life. Therefore, they seem more admirable and attractive. When entering Disneyland, consumers form into lines to gain access to each attraction. Then they are ordered by people with special uniforms to follow the rules, such as where to stand or where to sit. If the consumer follows each rule correctly, they can enjoy "the real thing" and see things that are not available to them outside of Disneyland's doors.[8]
In his work Simulacra and Simulation, Baudrillard argues the "imaginary world" of Disneyland magnetizes people inside and has been presented as "imaginary" to make people believe that all its surroundings are "real". But he believes that the Los Angeles area is not real; thus it is hyperreal. Disneyland is a set of apparatus, which tries to bring imagination and fiction to what is called "real". This concerns the American values and way of life in a sense and "concealing the fact that the real is no longer real, and thus of saving the reality principle."[9]
"The Disneyland imaginary is neither true or false: it is a deterrence machine set up in order to rejuvenate in reverse the fiction of the real. Whence the debility, the infantile degeneration of this imaginary. It's meant to be an infantile world, in order to make us believe that the adults are elsewhere, in the "real" world, and to conceal the fact that real childishness is everywhere, particularly among those adults who go there to act the child in order to foster illusion of their real childishness." [10]

[edit] Other examples

  • Films in which characters and settings are either digitally enhanced or created entirely from CGI (e.g.: 300, where the entire film was shot in front of a blue/green screen, with all settings super-imposed).
  • A well manicured garden (nature as hyperreal).
  • Any massively promoted versions of historical or present "facts" (e.g. "General Ignorance" from QI, where the questions have seemingly obvious answers, which are actually wrong).
  • Professional sports athletes as super, invincible versions of the human beings.
  • Many world cities and places which did not evolve as functional places with some basis in reality, as if they were creatio ex nihilo (literally 'creation out of nothing'): Disney World; Dubai; Celebration, Florida; and Las Vegas.
  • TV and film in general (especially "reality" TV), due to its creation of a world of fantasy and its dependence that the viewer will engage with these fantasy worlds. The current trend is to glamorize the mundane using histrionics.
  • A retail store that looks completely stocked and perfect due to facing, creating a world of endless identical products.
  • A life which cannot be (e.g. the perfect facsimile of a celebrity's invented persona).
  • A high end sex doll used as a simulacrum of an unattainable partner.[11]
  • A newly made building or item designed to look old, or to recreate or reproduce an older artifact, by simulating the feel of age or aging.
  • Constructed languages (such as E-Prime) or "reconstructed" extinct dialects.
  • Second Life The distinction becomes blurred when it becomes the platform for RL (Real Life) courses and conferences, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or leads to real world interactions behind the scenes.
  • Weak virtual reality which is greater than any possible simulation of physical reality.[12]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Joe L. Kincheloe The Sign of the Burger: McDonald's and the Culture of Power (2002), a study of McDonald's and its use of signifiers to achieve power in hyperreality.
  2. ^ Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation, p. 1.
  3. ^ "Hyper-needs: the things you just can’t live without?!". http://artandauthenticity.wikidot.com/24-march. Retrieved December 22, 2012.
  4. ^ "Reflection for the 6th week.". http://ecep956.blogspot.in/2007/02/reflection-for-6th-week.html. Retrieved December 22, 2012.
  5. ^ "Eco Next: The Mechanics of Hyperpraxis". http://www.identitytheory.com/eco-next-mechanics-hyperpraxis/. Retrieved December 22, 2012.
  6. ^ Umberto Eco, Travels In Hyperreality, New York, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1986, p. 43.
  7. ^ Eco, Travels In Hyperreality, p. 44.
  8. ^ Eco, Travels In Hyperreality, p. 48.
  9. ^ Jean Baudrillard, "Simulacra and Simulations," in Selected Writings, Mark Poster, ed. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988, pp. 166-184.
  10. ^ Baudrillard, "Simulacra and Simulations," pp. 166-184
  11. ^ Burr-Miller, Allison. and Aoki, Eric. "Idollators and the Real Girl(s): Males Performing Traditional Femininity for Heterosexuality’s Sake". Paper presented at the annual meeting of the NCA 94th Annual Convention, TBA, San Diego, CA. Allacademic.com. http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p258053_index.html. Retrieved 2009-05-23.
  12. ^ Andreas Martin Lisewski (2006), "The concept of strong and weak virtual reality", Minds and Machines, 16(2), pp. 201-219.

[edit] Bibliography

  • Jean Baudrillard, "The Precession of Simulacra", in Media and Cultural Studies : Keyworks, Durham & Kellner, eds. ISBN 0-631-22096-8
  • D.M. Boje (1995), "Stories of the storytelling organization: a postmodern analysis of Disney as 'Tamara-land'", Academy of Management Journal, 38(4), pp. 997–1035.
  • Daniel Boorstin, The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America (1992). ISBN 978-0-679-74180-0
  • Albert Borgmann, Crossing the Postmodern Divide (1992).
  • George Ritzer, The McDonaldization of Society (2004). ISBN 978-0-7619-8812-0
  • Charles Arthur Willard Liberalism and the Problem of Knowledge: A New Rhetoric for Modern Democracy. University of Chicago Press. 1996.
  • Andreas Martin Lisewski (2006), "The concept of strong and weak virtual reality", Minds and Machines, 16(2), pp. 201–219.

[edit] External links


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