Hyperrealism

Style of painting, printmaking and sculpture that originated in the USA in the mid-1960s, involving the precise reproduction of a photograph in paint or the mimicking of real objects in sculpture Its pioneers included the painters Malcolm Morley, Chuck Close, Richard Estes, Audrey Flack, Robert Bechtle (b 1932), Robert Cottingham (b 1935), Richard McLean (b 1934), Don Eddy and the English painter John Salt (b 1937), and sculptors such as Duane Hanson and John De Andrea Though essentially an American movement, it has also had exponents in Europe, such as Franz Gertsch

In semiotics and postmodernism, hyperreality is an inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from a simulation of reality, especially in technologically advanced postmodern societies Hyperreality is seen as a condition in which what is real and what is fiction are seamlessly blended together so that there is no clear distinction between where one ends and the other begins It allows the co-mingling of physical reality with virtual reality (VR) and human intelligence with artificial intelligence (AI) Individuals may find themselves, for different reasons, more in tune or involved with the hyperreal world and less with the physical real world Some famous theorists of hyperreality/hyperrealism include Jean Baudrillard, Albert Borgmann, Daniel J Boorstin, Neil Postman and Umberto Eco

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Italian author Umberto Eco explores the notion of hyperreality further by suggesting that the action of hyperreality is to desire reality and in the attempt to achieve that desire, to fabricate a false reality that is to be consumed as real Linked to contemporary western culture Umberto Eco and post-structuralists would argue, that in current cultures fundamental ideals are built on desire and particular sign-systems

Hyperreality can also be thought of as “reality by proxy”; simply put, an individual takes on someone else’s version of reality and claims it as his or her own For example, persons who watch soap operas for an extended period of time may develop a view of interpersonal relationships (reality) that are skewed by how the writers depict the characters and situations within the show Individuals may begin to believe that these extreme dramatic relationships are authentic and real, and they may begin to judge social relationships and situations by this heightened lens of reality

Hyperreality is significant as a paradigm to explain current cultural conditions Consumerism, because of its reliance on sign exchange value (eg brand X shows that one is fashionable, car Y indicates one’s wealth), could be seen as a contributing factor in the creation of hyperreality or the hyperreal condition Hyperreality tricks consciousness into detaching from any real emotional engagement, instead opting for artificial simulation, and endless reproductions of fundamentally empty appearance Essentially, (although Baudrillard himself may balk at the use of this word) fulfillment or happiness is found through simulation and imitation of a transient simulacrum of reality, rather than any interaction with any “real” reality

Simulation/Simulacra: The concepts most fundamental to hyperreality are those of simulation and the simulacrum, first conceptualized by Jean Baudrillard in his book Simulacra and Simulation The two terms are separate entities with relational origin connections to Baudrillard’s theory of hyperreality

Simulation is characterized by a blending of ‘reality’ and representation, where there is no clear indication of where the former stops and the latter begins Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being, or a substance; “It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal” Baudrillard suggests that simulation no longer takes place in a physical realm; it takes place within a space not categorized by physical limits ie, within ourselves, technological simulations, etc

The simulacrum is often defined as a copy with no original, or as Gilles Deleuze (1990) describes it, “the simulacrum is an image without resemblance” Baudrillard argues that a simulacrum is not a copy of the real, but becomes truth in its own right, aka the hyperreal He created four steps of reproduction: (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 whatsoever”