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appearance - aura - copy - hyperreality - Jean Baudrillard - originality - realism - reality - visual culture

Simulacrum: a copy of a copy

In the book Simulacra and Simulation [by Jean Baudrillard] (1981/1995), (ISBN 0472065211), the French social theorist Jean Baudrillard gave the term a specific meaning in the context of semiotics, extended from its common one: a copy of a copy which has been so dissipated in its relation to the original that it can no longer be said to be a copy. The simulacrum, therefore, stands on its own as a copy without a model. For example, the cartoon Betty Boop was based on singer Helen Kane. Kane, however, rose to fame imitating Annette Hanshaw. Hanshaw and Kane have fallen into relative obscurity, while Betty Boop remains an icon of the flapper.--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulacra [Dec 2004]

Wikipedia as similacrum

The online encyclopedia Wikipedia itself may be seen as a large-scale field experiment in the spread of simulacra. It is notable that many pages contain factoids about the meaning of words in the fictitious context of popular movies, video and role-playing games, usually derivative cliches in imitation of other such fictions. For instance the 1999 movie The Matrix explores the relationship between people and their simulacra; and in a further example of self-reference Neo, one of the lead characters from the movie, uses a hollowed out copy of Jean Baudrillardís Simulacra and Simulation as a secret store. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulacrum [Sept 2005]

Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction as simulacrum

[I]n both these cases, Pulp Fiction is showing generic situations with moments of the everyday pervading the narrative fabric. In fact, in postmodern terms, what the text is offering is the fourth stage of Baudrillard's 'four stages of real' - the hyper real.  As Baudrillard himself states in Simulacra and Simulations, the first to third stages are variations upon an 'appearance', whilst in the fourth stage 'it is no longer in the order of appearance at all, but of simulation.' Stage one's concept of 'real' is based on an appearance, hence appearing like a generic tale, whereas the fourth stage's hyper real presents the removing of this 'appearance' - this generic content - and showing moments of trueness, or as Baudrillard refers to them, 'simulacra'. This element of the hyper real is key to an understanding of Pulp Fiction, forming the theoretical justification for structural, thematic and textual details as will be discussed later. --Joe Allen, Hierarchies of Control in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, http://www.crimeculture.com/Contents/Articles-Summer03/AllenPulpFict.html, [Mar 2004]

Photorealism as similacrum

Tourists (1970) - Duane Hanson
Image sourced [Google gallery]

Fredric Jameson uses the example of photorealism to describe simulacra. The painting is a copy of a photograph, not of reality. The photograph itself is a copy of the original. Therefore, the painting is a copy of a copy. Other art forms that play with simulacra include Pop art, Trompe l'oeil, Italian neo-Realism and the French New Wave. Jean Baudrillard puts forth God as an example. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulacrum [Sept 2005]

See also: hyperreality - copy - self-referentiality - photography

Northern Soul (music genre) and simulacrum

Record production is more like printing (of sounds rather than images) than the mechanical reproduction of an original and unique work of art. Benjamin states that 'The presence of the original is the prerequisite to the concept of authenticity', but in the case of an 'original' in the Northern Soul sense, the original is the contemporary issue of a record, or even the pre-release DJ copy which was sent out to radio stations. In rarer cases the studio acetates (one-sided test pressings, 'drafts' if you will) have made their way into the public arena and they, like Baudrillard's 'Precession of Simulacra', are considered to chronologically precede the 'original', if an original was made after the acetate, which was not always the case. --Paul Wynne

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