LEVI VAN GELDER
PT. 1 – REALITY
Is Cher even real?
Questioning reality seems abstract. It can feel like taking the first step into a deep black hole filled with existential crises, conspiracy theories and metaphors from The Matrix. But questioning the legitimacy of the world surrounding us is not always assuming that our minds are imprisoned in a generated simulation, our physical bodies are stored in enclosed bathtubs and artificially kept alive by robots, machines, aliens or whatever.
PT. 2 – BECOMING SUPERFICIAL
Losing context through the ages.
What the rise of the digital reality did cause is an enormous acceleration of the lifespan of symbols and signs. The Internet generated a way of spreading information and data with which we know what happens at the other side of the world within seconds. Information is spread all over the world, but can we really understand a sign from a place where we have never been, about a person we have never met and about an event we have nothing to do with. Information, data, signs and symbols lose their context and substance so quickly because we get so much information we don’t know anything about. But then again: The world may be too big to concern about all information.
I see that my generation is evolved to deal with this lack of context, maybe that is why we seem such a superficial generation. We are made to absorb information without asking questions. We are made to look at “RIP Vines” YouTube videos for hours without wondering what we are looking at, who we are looking at, where they are and what they are doing. We just know there is a joke in there somewhere and it is funny.
Beyoncé can release a song about the empowerment of black women and a group of blonde white girls can be seen dancing on a almost unrecognizable remix of the song on YouTube within hours. And where did the origin of dabbing even lie?
PT. 3 – THE REMAINS OF REALITY
Where are we now?
So where are we now? Stuck between replicas, fossils of a reality that is still here, but no one cares about. How can images, symbols, information, signs derive so far and so quickly from their true selves and become contextless, while we slowly murder their real form. We do not have to define the border between the digital and physical world but maybe it is relevant to envision the boundary between our world of duplications and the things that would be reality.
On a very small scale, the reality of the duplication is alive while the lie is spread around the globe. But on a larger scale we create duplications that are better than the original and purged from their death, to live forever while its original is often long dead. Reality is about time, life and death. Simulation is about relevance. If people keep talking, thinking, tweeting about something, it will live. And even if people forget a sign can live on in the depths of the Internet, of our databases, immortal.
PT. 4 – THE RUINS OF HYPERREALITY (Remains/Traces/Ruins/Fossils)
When we all die.
We maybe do not understand the context of the information and sign from the other side of the world, but as a Western human, I am able to understand (to a certain extent) almost if not all the superficial information that is spread globally. All humans that know how to operate a computer, or even more primitive, that know how to read, understand the signs of this world. We have access to all the data that is stored inside the secondary world of information we have created. Our knowledge of language, of computer, of communicating is the password, the key to this world. But we are locking this information further and further away. The passwords are getting more complicated as technology progresses. When you first only had to know how to read, you now can not go without understanding technology if you want to live inside our world. This knowledge is stored inside humans, passed through our children. We understand the context of this world.
But with time as a destructive factor (or a meteor, climate disaster, nuclear war, alien invasion, Donald Trump) someone may one day look back at our society without understanding our contexts, not unlike the way we reminisce about other extinct civilizations. What will be left of the identity of our society when we all die?
Where lies our post-human identity?