The realms of hyperreality that have manifested have the potential to take over reality. According to Doug Mann Baudrillard
“concluded that in the postmodern media-laden condition, we experience something called "the death of the real": we live our lives in the realm of hyperreality, connecting more and more deeply to things like television sitcoms, music videos, virtual reality games, or Disneyland, things that merely simulate reality.”
Media definitely began down a path where simulated reality became something we began to relate to more than actual reality. It painted a picture of the reality we desired to be in, and could visualize ourselves in. But as technology has evolved and we are able to more deeply interact with this media is it merely simulating reality? Our digital selves are a reality now. The connections we develop and the interactions we have through technology and media aren’t just simulating connections, they have become connections that are deeply intertwined into the rest of our lives. We are in the ‘Third Order of the Simulacra” according the Baudrillard where we can no longer truly distinguish what is ‘real’ and what is ‘fake’, since everything is dominated by simulations.
In Borges short story we see these ideas played out through the use of a map. In our attempts to extensively understand and perfectly reflect reality through art (or mapmaking), we simply re-create a new reality that is indistinguishable from the former reality.
This piece reminds me of another short story from Borges called “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote”. This piece is written as a critical essay that discusses the imaginary writer Pierre Menard’s attempt to rewrite Don Quixote. Through it’s perfect, line for line imitation of the original Mernard’s version is said to bring new life to the original. Because the author has such a deep understanding of the original his mimicry adds layers of information and understanding. But it is simply a word for word copy. This short story brings up the ideas of authorship and interpretation. I’m interested in this as we discuss art especially in the VR space, and what value does mimicry have in VR. If we are creating perfecting simulations of reality - what is it’s real difference from reality, what is it really providing us as the viewer? Once we create perfect imitations of reality in VR where do we go next? I think there is value in mimicry when it comes to understanding. Learning how to sketch life like representations of people in drawing classes is a valuable skill, but I think the more interesting work happens when after we have made that perfection imitation we begin to break it down, abstracting the forms and seeing how we can manipulate them after we’ve perfectly mimicked them. I’m curious to see where we go next after we feel like we have perfectly simulated reality in art.