A glass of water refracts light to produce a distorted image if you place a straw into it. The distortion alters based on the shape and dynamic of the glass. We know this to be an illusion, complying to Plato’s theory of fallible senses. However, if a collective group see the refracted straw and draw a conclusion correlating this to be true by some unexplainable magic means, it would be accepted as a homogeneous perception of reality based solely on the ignorant faith and a rudimentary understanding of observed physics, lacking any logic, replacing it instead with a simulated knowledge.
Jean Buadrillard theorises about simulation and dissimulation, stating to dissimulate is to feign that “one does not have what one has” and that this leaves known reality intact. Adversely, to simulate threatens reality, for reality that appears as true can be accepted as true. The false, the real and the imaginary can be blurred.
We paint a picture of reality to what we hold witness to in life. An easy example is that some of us measure the worth of clothes by a design of fashion, and for others it is measured by the design of function. I doubt that the colour of ideals that we paint on the canvas of the world will ever change. I do not think it should be a question of how to deal with a simulation, however the recognition of a simulation and the ‘real’ in our being, and to render it as fact or fiction, thus the question lays on the brush that we use.
Sherry Turkle takes a look at the way people choose to live in a more simulated world, deciding to personify them through a hyper reality, quickly becoming a simulation of a reality. This can raise ethical as well as health, addiction and freedom of choice issues.
Elyn Saks suffers from a crippling mental illness known as schizophrenia the definition of which is a brain disorder, a psychosis that leaves the sufferer out of touch with reality, and delusions that aren’t responsive to reality, hallucinations and false sensory experiences. Everyone experiences schizophrenia in their own way, at some point in their lives such as a miss representation from a periphery view or shadow. Although Elyn was told that she was going to be housed under care and at best perform menial jobs, she instead went on to become the chair professor of Law, Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Southern California and is highly respected by her peers.
The earlier concept about distorted objects in a glass of water is only strengthened when these theories and philosophies are studied. To build a visual representation, I plan to take a transparent mannequin head and fill it with water, placing a prismatic triangle inside, making it difficult to see, then casting a powerful LED light from the neck. The light will refract through the prism. I will also add one-way reflective film to aid light distortion and reflection. The water hiding the prism is representative of the simulations of reality, the prism itself represents how easily reality may be distorted and understood by individuals and collective groups within society. The mannequin head represents the personal humanising aspect of the piece and the one-way reflective film represents the internalised belief that we may be given.
“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” -Edger Allan Poe