Tribute to Jean Baudrillard

Ars Virtua Remembers Jean Baudrillard

"What I am, I donít know. I am the simulacrum of myself." -Jean Baudrillard

On March 17, 2007 at 4 pm SLT Ars Virtua held a small wake for the passing of Jean Baudrillard. The event was held in World of Warcraft and telecast into Second Life in our first trans-instance event. The audience was small but very engaged.

As a tribute to Jean Baudrillardís life and work I felt that it was appropriate to use the world of simulation to deliver my message through the highly popular simulation gaming environment found in World of Warcraft. As part of the continued simulation which we call artmaking this tribute can be seen as an initial foray into a synthetic world for a purpose in which it was not necessarily built. A tension is created by this detournement of the space, that is the reutilization of the combat based game environment for a public function, ironically because it already is used as a community gathering place. The actual detournment is inverted (inverse detournement??) because of the reuse of the sphere for a tribute rather than an action of political protest.

Those who think the irony of this is counteractive to Baudrillardís philosophy about simulation have missed the point. He did not object to simulation, for what is art if not the simulacra. He objected to blindness to the fact that every bit of everything is a simulation.

ĖThomas Asmuth
Zuluu (WoW - Kilrogg)
Humbert Xingjian (Second Life)

play wake video
Video of the Wake
Images by J0E Languish

Text of Tribute

I address you friends and colleagues, I say we have come here to celebrate and honor a visionary and philosopher. A man who continues to influence the very core of our understanding of the ‘real’. We are here to pay homage to Jean Baudrillard.

A prolific writer and renowned photographer, he was the author of more than 50 works including: The Mirror of Production (1973), Forget Foucault (1977), Simulacra and Simulation (1981), America (1986), and The Spirit of Terrorism: And Requiem for the Twin Towers.

We are driven to reflect the passing of this philosopher and the influential nature of his work on the very nature of this and all gatherings upon the contemporary synthetic planes. Here upon the synthetic empires of our age, we owe much of this understanding to Dr. Baudrillard’s metaphor. In giddy revelation each of us can identify with his statement:
“What I am, I don’t know. I am the simulacrum of myself.”

We cannot let ourselves forget that Dr. Baudrillard’s lens exposed this synthesis as pervasive and far from novel. It is the constructions of our relations to the world and the appearances that have allowed us to meet in his honor today. It is these relations that brought us here.

Today the Simulacra in which we immerse ourselves are not fictions any more or less than the mutable social relations we engage in as we travel from home to work, from sports arena to religious sanctuary. In all we see and participate in a variety of social contracts that each afford their own expressions, rewards, and simulations. His most beloved simulation, Disneyland, drove him to write:

“..the whole system becomes weightless; it is no longer anything but a gigantic simulacrum: not unreal, but a simulacrum, never again exchanging for what is real, but exchanging in itself, in an uninterrupted circuit without reference or circumference.”

Thus we are not deceived nor bitter about this understanding. These worlds are full of potential because of the understanding you gave us Dr. Baudrillard. It is because of you we have the potential to transcend the role as consumer and to become the Counterfeiter.

In this “network of endless, unreal circulation: a town of fabulous proportions, but without space or dimensions…”, we engage in a construction, a third memory of the world. The world has for a long time.

We love, build, buy and spend, discuss religion, protest the political, and covet celebrity appearances in the simulation that was already a simulation before it was ‘online’. Jean Baudrillard, even though critical of anyone who couldn’t understand the how we fabricated our environments, fully recognized that all facets of life are simulation. We could not fake these moments such as these and it would be fool hardy to think that we are operating in some sort of bad faith or disconnection with the world as we embrace the hyper-real. Dr. Baudrillard pointed at it and the whole currency of virtual/real and genuine/simulation dissolved.

His response to criticism of the academe and his work was most prophetic and telling to our engagement with synthetic plane. Baudrillard arrested the criticism of his work as dense nonsense when he reportedly said:

“Ouf, it’s a game. A fabulous game. A game, that may not really be taking place.”

Why yes it is; all - of - it, Professor.
With great admiration we deliver this tribute to the life and work of Jean Baudrillard. Farewell, Professor.

ars virtua

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