Fellow nostalgists, I’m afraid we will have to accept that we live in a digital world and there is no turning back. We prefer thick dusty books, but the new generation fancies the internet and all the possibilities attached to it. We love the oldschool black-and-white photographs and newspapers, they switch on their computers and have to whole world thrown in their lap. Yes, ofcourse we are able to cure frightful deseases with our new technologies. But is there a chance that dependence on a machine is not that great after all? Are we starting to confuse reality on the internet with the real reality?
Lucky for us we have an intellectual who has thought about this too. According to Jean Baudrillard (1927-2007) the digital images form a simulacrum. The images don’t refer to reality anymore, but to other images and that how they create their own reality. Baudrillard isn’t very positive about this development, he thinks we lost our sense of reality. Especially if we consider the fact that a lot of images are sabotaged. For example the disqualification of the World Press Photos in 2010. Stepan Rudik became third with his photo ‘Street fighting, Kiev, Ukraine’, but ended up disqualified, after concluding that his photograph was digitally manipulated. The image shows a hand being taped with textile. It suggests that a rough fight is yet to come. Without the manipulation the picture doesn’t look that rough at all. The picture is to be seen at: http://www.petapixel.com/2010/03/03/world-press-photo-disqualifies-winner/
As we can see, by digitally manipulating an image reality might appear different from us. This does not have to be unethical, when we are aware the picture is manipulated. Baudrillard calls this hypermediacy: the image doesn’t just show us a window to reality, it makes us aware that we are dealing with a medium instead of reality. But if the presentation of the news is adjusted, like a car accident, it can influence our sense of reality. That is why it’s necessary not to mistake the ‘reality’ on the internet for the real reality.
- Sascha Wijnhoven