CGI and the simulacrum

CGI, which stands for computer generated images, is, in its recent and most sophisticated renderings, the very creation of the dreaded simulacrum so much discussed in this blog and my book “see my book“. Jean Baudrillard, the modern French philosopher, who deeply explored the concept of the simulacrum, felt it was the definitive danger of our time. He made the case that we live in a time of media in which it is possible to create a “reality” that is, in fact, not. When something seems real, but it is not, it is a simulation, i.e., a simulacrum. A simulacrum is not a picture or an image of a real thing or place but rather a wholly created pseudo-reality that is so persuasive that once in it, you take it to be real.

The previous blog post made the case, that cinema today (and CGI) has reached the level of scary real. It is nearly impossible to tell that what your are seeing isn’t or wasn’t (as it was filmed) real. But if we accept the fact that though it seems real, it isn’t…(and by that, immunized against it deleterious effects) …then this next thought is logical and the point of this blog-post.

One of the themes of my book, is authenticity. It presumes that authenticity is good….that living an inauthentic life is not good. So it follows that if you are living a moment inside a simulacrum, which by definition is false, your experience therefore cannot be authentic, and therefore not desirable. But what if, as the previous post suggests, that CGI and simulacra become commonplace, and we live within them more often than not, then, an ever larger portion of our existence will become in-authentic. But here’s the rub….what if the ever larger growing crowd of young people love to live in the simulacra because it becomes an “enhanced” reality that has more drama and intensity? Does their life continue to be in-authentic, or by embracing the simulacrum, false as it is, become, in fact, authentic? For hundreds of years, society has sought out the authentic life….one sans artifice and pretense. But are we on the cusp of a fundamental revision of that search? Is technology changing not just the external, but internal values as well?

In the not too distant future, what is reality and thus what is authentic may have truly newer definitions.  Stay tuned.

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