ABSTRACT

Simulacrum, from the Latin, means ‘image’, ‘semblance’ or ‘likeness’. The Oxford English Dictionary emphasises the material nature of the simulacrum, the image as thing, as fashioned and constructed. Baudrillard theorises the orders of ‘simulacra’ (the plural form), exploring the phases or stages of the image in modern Western culture from the Renaissance to the present day. Influenced by Nietzsche and Pierre Klossowski, Baudrillard theorises the simulacrum as complete or total: every ‘thing’ is simulacral (2005d: 39-47). There are only images

or illusions; ‘behind’ images there are more images; there is no point at which the final illusion is stripped away to reveal . . . reality. The notion of ‘reality’, then, is itself an illusion, moreover it is an illusion of recent provenance; Baudrillard locates the construction of the idea of ‘reality’ within the orders of simulacra (1998b: 23, 2005d: 39). The idea of ‘reality’ is not, of course, a constant. It emerges with the first order of simulacra and its distinctive binary oppositions of real /unreal and true/false. The idea of the ‘real’ reaches its apogee in the second order of simulacra, where life, sex, and work are understood as the essential realities. After burning brightly in the second order, ‘reality’, according to Baudrillard, is fading fast and is now kept alive by further simulation. Simulation consists of coded, stereotyped signifiers that refer to other signifiers in a model, not to an external referent or ‘reality’. Simulation generates ‘hyperreality’, not the ‘real’ or ‘unreal’ but the semiotic effect of a ‘more real than the real’.