Jean Baudrillard – Simulacra and Simulations
In his text, “Simulacra and Simulations”, Baudrillard states that we no longer have a relationship with that that is “real”, but that our experiences and actions are based upon simulacra (signs without a reference in “the real world”, that only gains its meaning through a mutual dependence; a copy without an original). Therefore, we are living in a ‘hyperreality’, a simulated reality in which distinctions between reality and illusion are blurred. He illustrates this by using examples such as Christianity and Disneyland, showing that through the organization of power, capital and ideology (especially in todays mediatized culture) we no longer see ‘the truth’ (or the true function) behind a good but that we are trapped in a web of simulation, where reality stops to exist.
After reading his text, I immediately had to think of performance theory, which we were discussing last week. In “Performing Safety in Faulty Environments” (2003), Peter Simmons states that “once situations are defined as being real, they are real in their consequences” (p. 79). I’d also say that reality is something we create and that there never was “a reality”. Yet Baudrillard uses the notion of reality as if it is a seizable concept, that loses its ‘truthness’ throughout time. How does this loss relate to mechanical reproduction, of which Benjamin speaks of? And, more important: is there really a loss, or are we just growing closer to “a [personal] true state of realness”, in which the media function as external storage devices that enables us to explore the different dimensions of the sign?
And then still the question remains: what is reality?
 Simmons, P. (2003). “Performing Safety in Faulty Environments. In B. Szerszynski W. Heim & C. Waterton (Eds), Nature Performed: Environment, Culture, and Performance (pp. 78-93). Oxford [etc]: Blackwell Publishing.