Simulacrum and Simulation
Here’s my journal entry for my Media Theory class.
Simulacra and simulations; it is something I have not heard of. I am familiar with the meaning of simulacrum, but I never knew there was a word defining it. Simulacrum is an image or representation of someone or something; thus the root “sim.” “Sim” is in words like similar, or simulate. Simulate is to mimic, but we know it isn’t reality; it’s merely tricking us that it’s reality.
Objects that are given meaning simulate or represent something greater. In Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulations, Baudrillard talks about religious objects or relics of divine icons carry a strong representation of God. We know the purpose of these religious objects, and the “power” it is believed it possesses. But do the religious objects truly have the breath of God blessing them? In reality, they are just specially crafted objects made from different materials, but they simulate the beliefs of religions. As believers in religions, we instinctively believe (or respect) the objects of simulacrum.
There are a lot of simulacra around us. It can be at amusement parks, action figure toys, themes of amusement parks, and even in media; internet, video games, and especially television and movies. These mediums create another world. It creates an alternate reality where we interact and/or observe. Why are so consumed by the “alternate realities?” My guess is because it allows us to do things we wish we could do in reality. Video games allows people to run in the wild with a fully automatic weapon, and hunt down other people who dares step in your way. It gives people the ability to become your favorite athlete and reenact their spectacular athleticism. Television shows and cinema pulls in the viewer into their reality. A reality created by the director and team of writers and producers. Sometimes their reality seems exactly like ours, or it can be bizarre like David Lynch’s.
Personally, I feel like film isn’t as affective in creating a simulation for the human mind as something interactive, i.e. video games, computers, and etc. The Matrix trilogy is a story where the reality the people perceive is actually a simulated reality. Then a group of rebels found out about this, and they go against those who created the simulated world to free the people into the true reality. It sounded a bit confusing, but when I thought about it more, it made me ask questions concerning our reality. Is our reality simulated in some way? Are magic tricks truly magic or is it simply an optical illusion? But then again, our reality is quite real. When we die, I’m sure we don’t disintegrate into numbers like in The Matrix.
The closest thing our reality has to The Matrix is in our own dreams. We dream of anything and everything, but the only difference between dreams and the matrix is that we are not all connected. People say sometimes that their dreams “felt so real” and believed that it actually took place. It is probably because the dream was simulated to be exactly like reality, our mind is tricked to believe what happened in our dream was real. We lie down and shut our eyes, just like the characters did before they entered the matrix. We both enter a world that is not reality. The day the matrix is created is the day a genius will intertwine the internet/social media within our dreams.
“The clearest way to conceptualize space is not with words, but with images. A map captures the abstract contours of space; any verbal description begins the process of turning that map into a tour. This is why any good work of geography is full of maps; the reader is expected to continually check the words against the images, translating language back into visual understanding. Simulation games are a way to make the maps tell the whole story. As a still frame is to a movie, as a paragraph is to a novel, so is a map to a simulation game. Simulation games are maps-in-time, dramas which teach us how to think about structures of spatial relationships.”—Civilization and its discontents: simulation, subjectivity, and space by Ted Friedman
“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.”—
“In Simulations, Baudrillard suggested that Disneyland’s only function was to conceal the fact that the entire country was a huge theme park.”
- Sylvere Lotringer
Simulacra and Simulations
” Our current society has replaced all reality and meaning with symbols and signs. Human experience is then a simulation of reality. These simulacra are not mediations of reality, nor even deceptive mediations of reality; they are not based in a reality nor do they hide a reality. The simulacra that Baudrillard refers to are the significations and symbolism of culture and media that construct perceived reality, the acquired understanding by which our lives and shared existence is rendered legible; Baudrillard believed that society has become so saturated with these simulacra and our lives so saturated with the constructs of society that all meaning was being rendered meaningless by being infinitely mutable. Baudrillard called this phenomenon the “precession of simulacra”.
In the age of postmodernism, the simulacrum precedes the original and the distinction between reality and representation vanishes. There is only the simulacrum, and originality becomes a totally meaningless concept. “