[iDC] Jean Baudrillard - mashup philosopher

Paul D. Miller anansi1 at earthlink.net
Thu Mar 22 20:49:41 EDT 2007

Hello Winfred, Keith and IDC crew. I'm intrigued at how Baudrillard's 
analysis of "the system of objects" created such a crisis of 
categories for the conventional academic scene. One of the media 
events of the last several months in a stream of almost limitless 
affirmation of Baudrillard's stance on simulation was the cell phone 
broadcast of Saddam Hussein's execution. But this was about a 
democracy of pandaemonium - people's splintered perspectives creating 
an almost eerie reflection of what Baudrillard was talking about in 
his "System of Objects" - I was re-reading Arjun Appadurai's "The 
Social Life of Things" the other day and thinking about how the 
"state terror" of the cell phone footage was such an immaculate 
reflection of the issues that software destabilizes. - the global 
endorsement of open markets, the free flow of finance and 
information, the ideals of rule of law -  the barbarism of the act 
rendered his death as high theater, and the U.S.'s role as just 
another militia in the Iraqi civil war... well, it shows a return to 
Umberto Eco's idea of hyper-reality as well. But the notions that 
Appadurai liked to call "the geography of anger" - kept echoing in my 
mind as I read as well. Baudrillard always struck me as waaaay too 
European. I think that his relationship with non-European cultures is 
more nuanced. Anyway, it's something I thought about when I read some 
of the posts. The extensions of media and smart mobs rioting in state 
mediated terror in Iraq seems like the embodiment of what Baudrillard 
was talking about.

My question is how do we make art out of it? I'm in the middle of 
getting a large installation together for the upcoming Venice 
Biennial, and my research has been taking me to Angola. I went for a 
couple of weeks last year to see the after effects of the Soviet 
"Africa" linering in the oil  economy. Angola engured a 20 year civil 
war that, in some aspects reminds me of Iraq and Afghanistan - but 
without the fundamentalism. The complex dynamics fueling widespread 
violence and culturally motivated terror go against "reason." My 
response to the posts about Baudrillard is that, perhaps, he was the 
philosopher of the "post-rational" - the Enlightenment's ashes mingle 
with his.

Paul aka Dj Spooky

>Hello everybody,
>being new to this list, we're impressed by the controversial
>discussions (still) going on about Baudrillard here. Positions
>towards Baudrillards writings seem to be pretty clear: some follow
>him, either a) making sense of his opaque writings or b) continuing
>his style of writing, others read B either a) as a kind of intriguing
>prophet (but not a scientist) oder b) as the worst case of pomo
>lingo. Odds are those groups won't get together for several, and
>supposedly rather principal, reasons.
>We ourselves appreciated Baudrillard as someone who had an impressive
>ability to detect and extrapolate social and esp. media related
>trends. Alas, we never took his theses that serious. B's simplistic
>approach to epistemic problems (in the ligth of  discussions about
>radical relativism, radical constructisism ot anti-
>representationalism) completely fail to make sense beyond a kind of
>realistic ontology (where you still can claim something "real" as
>opposed to signs).
>We don't want to discuss this here - principle discussions on
>ontologies are surely rather unfruitful and easily too complex for
>the means of a mailing list. We'd rather like to pose the question if
>it would be more productive to try to bridge the gap between
>Baudrillard connoisseurs and critics by asking if his observations
>still contain valuable ideas for media theorists and researchers
>beyond B's theoreticist approach to media.
>If we don't (want to) rely on an idea that there is a "real" as
>opposed to a symbolic sphere (take that POV for a moment, even if you
>don't go with it), is B's simulacra-thesis (for example) worthless?
>Or is it possible to re-read Baudrillard on the basis of alternative
>ontologies resp. epistemologies?
>Looking at media practices, we guess it would be possible to
>distinguish between patterns of pure immediate imitation (of images,
>for e.g. body images like in the MTV series "I want a famous face")
>on the one side and patterns of active reception on the other. So, a
>simulacrum would not be defined as a mere effect caused by media in
>itself. Instead, the concept could serve as a means for identifying
>certain ways to use media in our visual cultures. Of course, you lose
>that grand tale of the "real" becoming a simulacrum that way (so
>what). On the other hand, could it be that many of Baudrillard's
>observations, despite his notion of proper conceptional and
>scientific work, could become valuable to more people than they are
>Winfried Marotzki
>Benjamin Joerissen
>iDC -- mailing list of the Institute for Distributed Creativity 
>iDC at mailman.thing.net
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