Hiding in plain sight : subjectivity, mimetic representation & the digital realm

Vosloo, Niel Brink (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2012-03)

Thesis (MA (VA))--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study offers a critical exploration of the ways in which Jean Baudrillard’s theory of the simulacrum is ‘true’ or viable as a theory of representation in contemporary visual culture, with particular reference to digital imaging technologies. Using a selection of images and texts dating from the Renaissance to present day, I trace issues of subjectivity and self-reflexivity in modern image culture, questioning the extent to which digital imaging technology and information substantially departs from the early modern devotion to naturalistic representation (verisimilitude) as a reflection of knowledge and truth in the modern world. I offer a critique of the simulacrum theory that concerns two principle issues: firstly that simulacrum is a strictly self-reflexive operation and not an effect of digital imaging technology as Baudrillard claims; and secondly, that simulacrum necessitates an underlying dualist worldview in order to exist. With reference to the use of metaphor in magical realist texts and visual art, I draw the argument together with a discussion of my own art practice, particularly a body of work that takes Etienne van Heerden’s novel Toorberg (1986) as a starting point. The examples I refer to serve as visual evidence in support of my speculative philosophical argument against hyperreality; that is, how the simulacral nature of metaphor (as operating within a poststructuralist model of the sign) functions a critical aspect of a self-reflexive individual consciousness; and argues for subjectivity itself as inherently bound up in the operation of simulacrum.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie is ’n kritiese ondersoek na die wyse waarop Jean Baudrillard se teorie van die simulacrum ‘waar’ of grondig is as ’n teorie van representasie in visuele kultuur, met spesifieke verwysing na digitale beeldtegnologie. ‘n Verskeidenheid beelde en tekste (van die Renaissance tot die moderne era) word betrek ten einde kwessies rondom subjektiwiteit en selfrefleksiwiteit in moderne beeldkultuur te ondersoek. Die mate waarin digitale beeldtegnologie en inligting merkbaar afwyk van ‘n vroeë moderne toegewydheid aan naturalistiese representasie (verisimilitude) as ‘n refleksie van kennis en waarheid in die moderne wêreld, word vervolgens krities ondersoek. Baudrillard se simulacrum-teorie word krities beoordeel: in die eerste plek is die simulacrum ‘n streng selfrefleksiewe proses en nie ‘n effek van digitale beeldtegnologie, soos Baudrillard beweer nie; en tweedens veronderstel, of noodsaak die simulacrum ‘n onderliggende dualistiese wêreldbeeld ten einde geldig verklaar te kan word. Met verwysing na die gebruik van metafoor in magies realistiese tekste en visuele kuns, word die argument saamgevat deur ’n bespreking van my persoonlike kunsprojek, vernaam ’n versameling werk wat Etienne van Heerden se roman Toorberg (1986) as verwysingspunt gebruik. Die voorbeelde waarna ek verwys ondersteun my spekulatiewe filosofiese argument teen hiperrealiteit (hyperreality); hoe die simulakrale (simulacral) aard van metafoor (soos werksaam binne ’n poststrukturalistiese model van die ‘teken’) as ’n kritiese aspek van selfrefleksiewe individuele bewussyn funksioneer. Ek argumenteer vervolgens dat subjektiwiteit sigself inherent deel is van die werking van simulacrum.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/20213
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