Sunday, August 21, 2011

Simulacra and Surrogates

Simulacra and Surrogates

The issue of Simulacra seems to be multifaceted and dense almost to a point where it disseminates into an ambiguous state that the idea itself seems to create. Yet breaking it down filters out what can be viewed as 'additional' components. To do this, the simplest way would be to start with a basic question: what is simulacrum? Hyperreal. Too easy? But then what is the core importance of it? To Baudrillard it is truth. But the issue of hyperreal vs mimetic blurs that line of "truth". The clip for Surrogates and the movie itself exemplifies this issue. The first place to start would be by understanding how Jean Baudrillard views the separation of real from hyperreal and follow the line of thinking from there.

First, it is viewed that "the generation by models of a real without origin or reality" (Baudrillard) is the hyperreal; at its basic is the replacing of real with the simulacrum. But the hyperreal takes it one step further, it by having "the territory no longer preced[ing] the map, nor survives it" (Baudrillard). In the case of Surrogates, people are replaced by their robot selves who go out and experience life for/with the controller. The 'real' human is replaced by the 'hyperreal' robotic counterpart. Yet the simplicity of this is re-ambiguated through the idea of simulation vs mimetic, where mimetic is 'feigning' realness wherein simulation "produces 'true' symptoms" (Baudrillard). This, interlaced with the idea of replacing the real, leads to the question of 'truth'. If simulation is all but producing the source, then is it still 'true'? The controllers lead true lives and experience real situation in so much that their Surrogate is the direct gateway, yet since they themselves are not there in flesh and blood, does this negate these experiences as being 'true' experiences? Baudrillard would say that simulation decays truth and that the "lack of distinction is the worst for of subversion" (Baudrillard).

In the movie further truth is distorted by the fact that this hyperreal preceding the real creates built in reactions that aren't original since they wouldn't have existed without the preceding simulacrum. The idea that Surrogates come free of risk so that the controller may experience what they wish without fear creates a built in unnatural reaction that would not normaly occur without this simulacra present. Likewise if the simulacra is removed, as with Bruce's character at a certain point, the overwhelming reaction of fear and negative emotions are in direct relation once again to the source or hyperreal. The final point is realized [spoiler alert for those who have not seen the movie] in what he coins as his fourth phase of hyperreal when the controllers are severed from their Surrogates. The cycle of simulation breaks down with the drive to return to the authentic, real truth.