A Thought on Simulacra

I have heard a few times recently how we (our society) are engaging in practices that are not real. I have even contributed to such discussions by agreeing, but I have been re-thinking this.

For example, during the last course I took titled, Modernist Visions: Form and Utopian Narratives with Holly Ward, (not the one I am currently enrolled in), we discussed the image by Guy Debord, Couple stretched out on a sofa, Watches television (1968). Invoking Baudrillard’s theories about Simulacra we noted how the couple is dressed in yachting clothes and watching a program about boating on the television set, yet they are sitting on a sofa – not actually sailing or boating themselves. What we discussed was that the couple’s experience of boating is simulated, or fake, in-authentic. As viewers of the work by Debord, we could also say that we have a simulated experience of watching the couple, watch the television program of boating.

If Baudrillard’s Simulacra implies that there is no such thing as reality, then what is it?

In giving this some thought, I would argue that the couple is indeed having a real experience of sitting on a sofa and watching television, and engaging with Debord, as photographer, directing their movements on the set in the studio. Can we really say that their experience is simulated?

A Morning at the SAM

Inopportune: Stage One

This past weekend, my significant other and I spent the late morning and early afternoon at the SAM in Seattle. While being thrilled to see so many works I have previously been observing in ink on paper, such as Cai Guo-Qiang’s Inopportune: Stage One, Do-Ho Suh’s Some/One, Glenn Ligon’s Stranger in the Village (Excerpt), #7, I was especially interested in the work of Titus Kaphar in the show History in the Making.

Again a fascination with the work of non-white males. I thought the work had the best of both worlds: great skill and great ideas. The quality of the painting draws me in while the cutting and tarring keep me engaged with what Kaphar is trying to tell me.

Really you should see it for yourself:

Better yet, head over to the SAM while it is still on.