Simulacra and Simulation Explained

Sorry for the long post. I decided to compile the excerpts I found the most insightful into one blog post, so the most relevant information would be the easiest to find. Links to the full articles can be found after each excerpt. Hope this helps!

The video in the post is a Dove Commercial which provides an intuitive grasp of Jean Baudrillard’s dense thesis by offering a concrete example. Poetically ironic, this video is itself a simulation (think about it).

Simulacra and Simulation Explained by two different authors:

1. “One of the most challenging concepts in Jean Baudrillard”s ‘Simulacra and Simulation’ is that of ‘the real.’ Intuitively we tend to distinguish what happens in the real world from what is represented to us. We know (?) that what we see on television isn’t the real world but rather a representation of it. But Baudrillard thinks differently. He uses the concept of ‘Simulation’ which he defines as the occurrence of something real which has no origin or reality through the use of models: a hyperreality. A simulation is an event which ‘stages’ an actual event and recreates its conditions and even experience. A simulation is like real life, only it’s not.
Usually we think we can tell a simulation from an actual occurrence, but Baudrillard’s definition of the concept argues the simulation is not something which follows the real, but rather a ‘real’ which does not stem from any other source or origin. A simulation for Baudrillard is not something which disguises itself as the real, but rather something which eliminates the actual ‘real’, the real which is distinguished from its representations.
When Baudrillard describes western culture’s move away from the real he argues that what we are losing is a construction of the real. For Baudrillard, what we think is the real is always in fact a simulacrum of the real.”

– The cultural Studies Reader Blog

2. “Simulacra – the plural of Simulacrum and “used to describe a representation of another thing, such as a statue or a painting, especially of a god; by the late 19th century, it had gathered a secondary association of inferiority: an image without the substance or qualities of the original” (Wikipedia).
Baudrillard goes on to establish the nature of simulation, that it is not the same as faking or pretending – it is a deception at a higher level. To simulate is to take on the appearance of reality and thus blur the boundary between truth and fallacy, real and imaginary. He suggests that faking and pretending (both the act of and the perception of) happen at a conscious level whereas simulation happens at an unconscious level, thus clouding the distinction of the real and the imaginary.”

–Adrian Park Newcastle Digital Media Research

Finally, here is a surprisingly apt example converted to text from a youtube video:

“One day during a long conversation online with SexyChick49, she asks him to send her a photograph of himself. Embarrassed by his elderly physique, Brad opts to send her a photo from his youth. Bard sends her this photograph and SexyChick49 is pleasantly surprised by his image. Whilst this photograph no longer represents what Brad looks like in his old age, he knows that SexyChick49 is more likely to accept him if he looks like a healthy young stud rather than the old man he really is. The photograph is the only representation of reality that SexyChick49 can understand, thus, becoming a new reality.
This can easily be applied to modern media production and consumption, where audiences are accepting edited, prepared realities as real life. A large proportion of the public’s understanding of the world comes from the media. The media’s manipulation of events distort public perception of reality. The representations of reality that audiences are presented with bear no resemblance to real events.”
–Youtube video by “How to do Theory”