Saturday, October 11, 2008

Artists & Intuitive, Collective Simulacra

In the past couple of months, I have discovered versions of things I have made, especially things I made at Cranbrook, popping up on the internet made by the hands of others. There's a sense that certain memes run through our culture in undercurrents and it is we, the artists, the simultaneous creators and dissectors of culture, who tap into them. In some cases, the end artistic products appear identical, as though we were exposed to each others work and replicated it without thought. However, in many of these same cases (my Migration project and the design image below for example), art works were made in the seclusion of a studio, as insertions into culture, not replications of things we artists had already seen. This further emphasizes my thought that we're all inadvertantly, intuitively creating collective simulacra.

Examples follow. Below the images, I've reposted the Wiki definition of simulacrum, especially in relation to philosophy because I find that to be the most textured definition.

First, we have my Migration project and Taschide's veneer wall stickers from left to right. Below that, we have another part of my Migration project, a little video Tim made.:

Next we have a piece I made last fall. I made a few pieces in this series and they were all investigations of patterning through wall drawings and drapings of chain on the wall. Here's one example from me and then Sarah Cihat's porcelain with Michael Miller's chainwork around it rocking the same design meme:

To be continued....

Simulacrum in philosophy

The simulacrum has long been of interest to philosophers. In his Sophist, Plato speaks of two kinds of image-making. The first is a faithful reproduction, attempted to copy precisely the original. The second is distorted intentionally in order to make the copy appear correct to viewers. He gives an example of Greek statuary, which was crafted larger on top than bottom so that viewers from the ground would see it correctly. If they could view it in scale, they would realize it was malformed. This example from visual arts serves as a metaphor for philosophical arts and the tendency of some philosophers to distort truth in such a way that it appeared accurate unless viewed from the proper angle.[6] Nietzsche addresses the concept of simulacrum in The Twilight of the Idols, suggesting that most philosophers, by ignoring the reliable input of their senses and resorting to the constructs of language and reason, arrive at a distorted copy of reality.[7] Modern French social theorist Jean Baudrillard argues that a simulacrum is not a copy of the real, but becomes truth in its own right: the hyperreal. Where Plato saw two steps of reproduction — faithful and intentionally distorted (simulacrum) — Baudrillard sees four: (1) basic reflection of reality, (2) perversion of reality; (3) pretence of reality (where there is no model); and (4) simulacrum, which “bears no relation to any reality whatever.” Baudrillard uses the concept of god as an example of simulacrum.[8] In Baudrillard’s concept, like Nietzsche’s, simulacra are perceived as negative, but another modern philosopher who addressed the topic, Gilles Deleuze, takes a different view, seeing simulacra as the avenue by which accepted ideals or “privileged position” could be “challenged and overturned.”[9] Deleuze defines simulacra as "those systems in which different relates to different by means of difference itself. What is essential is that we find in these systems no prior identity, no internal resemblance."[10]