By Andy McLaverty-Robinson. The model of the code does not represent a prior social reality. It creates a new social reality, which Baudrillard terms hyperreality. Hyperreality is a special kind of social reality in which a reality is created or simulated from models, or defined by reference to models — a reality generated from ideas. It is experienced as more real than the real, because of its effect of breaking down the boundary between real and imaginary.
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By Andy McLaverty-Robinson. The model of the code does not represent a prior social reality. It creates a new social reality, which Baudrillard terms hyperreality. Hyperreality is a special kind of social reality in which a reality is created or simulated from models, or defined by reference to models — a reality generated from ideas.
It is experienced as more real than the real, because of its effect of breaking down the boundary between real and imaginary. Hyperreality differs from other realities in that the division between reality and imaginary disappears. Reality becomes a cybernetic game.
It is as if, at a certain point of time, we left reality behind, and never noticed until now. Baudrillard does not suggest when this loss of reality happened, but it can be deduced from his work fairly easily. The final loss of meaning happened at some point after the s. Baudrillard sees figures such as J. One might tentatively situate the transition in or — at the point where neoliberalism takes root.
Hyperreality corresponds to the disappearance of intensity. Baudrillard is often misunderstood. He is referring to the loss of heat. Heat is here a metaphor for intensity, enjoyment as opposed to pleasure , and emotional investment.
In hyperreality, simulators seek to make all of reality coincide with their models of simulation. For instance, production is now primarily virtual — the unreal circulation of values.
Cinema is getting closer to an absolute reality in all its naked obviousness. Functional arrangements seek to create the greatest correspondence possible between the object and its function. Its destruction of the gap between signs and their referents creates immense social effects. Time is increasingly experienced as an eternal present without end, rather than as a linear sequence. Hyperreality is for Baudrillard simply one of a number of related cases of excessive or simulated forms.
This occurs instead of the sharing of secrets in a band, or of simulacra in sovereignty. It is because the importance of simulation is denied that things seem over-present and obscene.
All spheres tend to converge on the model of fashion, the commutation of signs. Baudrillard sees fashion as the absorption of past signs the same way machines absorb past labour. Consumption of fashion actually draws on the endless revival of past cultural forms as empty signs. Fashion simulates the innocence of becoming and the cyclical process of exchange.
There is fashion wherever forms are reproduced from models, and not through their own determinations. The light play of fashion replaces the heavy meanings of production. The free play of fashion renders all signs relative, rendering power arbitrary.
Baudrillard thinks the left has become moralistic in its attacks on fashion as insubstantial. Instead, we should deconstruct the form of fashion and of the code. Fashion is more beautiful than the beautiful, as the model is truer than the true.
As a result, they are fascinating. They give rise to a particular ecstatic experience arising from their excess. This experience comes from the collapse of the categorical distinctions, and bears a remnant of return to symbolic exchange. Or rather, it replaces passion, being counterposed to passionate investments in the scene. It almost disappears, but remains fascinating. Such fascinating images deter the true, the real, and so on by getting too close to them.
In this way, they put an end to the social. Information in the age of the Internet is ecstatic because there is too much of it. Fascination exists in a field of non-contradiction, of entities beyond binaries.
It happens, for instance, when the true is invested with the power of the false, the beautiful with the ugly, or the real with the unreal. It consists of a kind of contemplation of what exists.
It carries a symbolic energy, opening into the field of symbolic exchange. It escapes from the ultimatum of meaning. War becomes ecstatic in the nuclear form. With no proportionality between means to annihilate and goals of war, waging war becomes pointless. The social becomes ecstatic in the masses, the political or violence becomes ecstatic in terrorism. Money becomes obscene in gambling and capital speculation? Things take up too much room. They have too much meaning to be meaningful, as if they mean everything and therefore nothing.
This is distinct from classical obscenity, which is an irruption of the repressed. They are abjectly visible, but mean nothing at all. For something to be meaningful, it needs a scene. All cultural forms and media are being absorbed into advertising. Things are presented in such a way that the surface effaces and covers up any possible depth. Of course, the effect of this is a loss or entropy of meaning.
Advertising destroys intensities and accelerates inertia. And it is itself threatened. Computer code simplifies even further than advertising. It is putting an end to the power of advertising. In an earlier work, Baudrillard emphasised that advertising actually promotes the entire social system, far more than the specific product it is meant to sell.
It exists more as a way of signifying a way of life than an economic practice. Hence, across a range of fields, the basic form is replaced by an ecstatic or excessive form — the real by the hyperreal, aesthetics by fashion, the scene by the obscene. This happens because of the loss of referents in the various fields. For instance, the loss of social transcendence — law, scene, stakes — is what renders the social ecstatic and obscene, or over-present.
It relies on the non-existence, or affective non-investment, of what is consumed. The ecstatic also becomes a metastasis — it cross-contaminates between social fields. The system which results depends on the constant maintenance of a regime of control. Such a system is very unstable, open to collapsing at the slightest rupture.
For instance, systems of power depend on a master-signifier, which is ultimately arbitrary and contingent. There is no longer a master-signifier of the entire system, but agencies such as states and companies still have leaders for example. When it is obvious that it is arbitrary and contingent, power is unpinned from its apparent obviousness. It comes to seem purely arbitrary, and this interferes with its functioning.
When power occupies the empty place of power, it comes to seem obscene, impure and ridiculous, and eventually collapses.
Baudrillard refers to this instability as implosion. This means that he sees the system collapsing from within. The system is no longer expanding — hence the turn to deterrence instead of war. For Baudrillard, the system has reached its culmination. It is accelerating towards its limit, which today is expressed as implosion rather than explosion or revolution. The growing density of simulations is destroying it. Implosion is swallowing all the energy of the real.
Implosion arises from the destruction of meaning and the reality-effect due to the precession of simulacra. The problem for the system is that signs need a separate reality in order to refer to something, and hence to function as signs. In the current regime of simulation, social realities are generated from signs and models which precede them.
Reality separate from the regime is either destroyed, denied, or incorporated. As a result, the signs stop referring to anything. At the same time, therefore, a total system of meaning is created, and its meaningfulness is destroyed.
All signs or referentials are combined in a vicious circle or Moebius strip. Truth, equivalences, rational distinctions break down. Without a clear outside or referent, the reality-effect breaks down.
Without a focus of intensity, meaning breaks down. Meaning can no longer be pinned-down in particular places. It circulates at increased speed, without any referent or guarantee. For instance, economic growth is increasingly unstable. Baudrillard sees the same thing happening with everything from fashion to art to politics.
Jean Baudrillard, 77, Critic and Theorist of Hyperreality, Dies
Home What is Hyperreality? Project Proposal Submitted Essay. Jean Baudrillard was a French sociologist, philosopher and cultural theorists whose work is most closely tied with post-structuralism and early post modernism, through which the idea of hyperreality has been shaped. It is form this that he formed the basis for the work, Simulacra and Simulation , which furthered this idea that our current society has replaced all reality and meaning with symbols and signs, and that human experience is a simulation of reality.
Jean Baudrillard. Baudrillard observes that the contemporary world is a simulacrum, where reality has been replaced by false images, to such an extent that one cannot distinguish between the real and the unreal. In his book Simulations, Baudrillard offered four basic historic phases of the sign: 1 there is truth, a basic reality which is faithfully represented, as in the paintings of LS Lowry, which represent the monotony and repetitiveness of life in 20th century Britain. According to Baudrillard, Western society has entered this fourth phase of the hyperreal. The age of production has given way to the age of simulation, where products are sold even before they exist. The Simulacrum pervades every level of existence.
Baudrillard’s Concept of Hyperreality
Associated with postmodern and postructuralist theory, Jean Baudrillard — is difficult to situate in relation to traditional and contemporary philosophy. His work combines philosophy, social theory, and an idiosyncratic cultural metaphysics that reflects on key events and phenomena of the epoch. A sharp critic of contemporary society, culture, and thought, Baudrillard is often seen as a major guru of French postmodern theory, although he can also be read as a thinker who combines social and cultural criticism in original and provocative ways and a writer who has developed his own style and forms of writing. He was an extremely prolific author who has published over fifty books and commented on some of the most salient cultural and sociological phenomena of the contemporary era, including the erasure of the distinctions of gender, race, and class that structured modern societies in a new postmodern consumer, media, and high tech society; the mutating roles of art and aesthetics; fundamental changes in politics, culture, and human beings; and the impact of new media, information, and cybernetic technologies in the creation of a qualitatively different social order, providing fundamental mutations of human and social life. For some years a cult figure of postmodern theory, Baudrillard moved beyond the postmodern discourse from the early s to his death in , and in his later writings developed a highly idiosyncratic mode of philosophical and cultural analysis.
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