Monday, 1 March 2010

Baudrillard, Simulacra and female representations.

Starting to get my head around some of the theory in the digital cultures module (i think!!). The problem has been one of many unfamiliar concepts and philosophies I am not well versed in. Today at last I really understand why the whole simulacra/simulation idea is relevant to the field of digital imaging, it's blatantly obvious in hindsight but was so cloaked in jargon and video game references that I could not see the proverbial forest for the trees. Found this passage today which helped clarify some things. Gone back to Baudrillard......seeing as the name keeps cropping up everywhere...

"Once we have something in a computer, we gain unprecedented control over it. We can change, distort, or rearrange a photograph without damaging the original. This control has interesting consequences in a Baudrillardian perspectives. For the author of Simulacra and Simulation the successive phases of the image are:

it is the reflection of a profound reality;
it masks and denatures a profound reality;
it masks the absence of a profound reality;
it has no relation to any reality whatsoever it is its own pure simulacrum. "

Suddenly an overlap becomes apparent between Baudrillard's theories and the feminist theories I have started researching for my project. In thinking about female representations the concept of a simulacra is a potent one. Much has been made in the media recently about female body issues and the prevalence of digitally manipulated ideals that grace the covers of magazines offering impossible to achieve levels of beauty and physical perfection. In effect a simulacra has been created, something without its own reality, a signifier without a corresponding signified, against which women judge themselves and find themselves lacking. There have been calls recently to force magazines to identify when a significant degree of image manipulation has occurred and I think this is important. These images are in Plato's words and as stated in Charles Levin's Jean Baudrillard, A Study in Cultural Metaphysics, a "destabilizing corruption of the norm." Bring back a recognisable version of reality so we can begin to reclaim what is true from the current prevalent fiction or at least tell us when it is fiction and stop trying to pass it off as truth. Rant over.

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