The new single of NIGHTWISH “Noise,” and especially its music video, made me think about the philosophical concept of reality. So much of popular culture and media is centered around how illusory our modern times are. Whether it be the new single “Noise” or a series like “Black Mirror,” the idea of a massive simulation, or the nature of a heavily fabricated modern society, spreads throughout every step of how individuals and artists consider the current age of technology.
As a visual artist myself, studying art philosophy in university is an important step in educating any visual artist. One name that pops up everywhere when it comes down to reality and simulations is Jean Baudrillard, a French postmodern philosopher and cultural sociologist who placed a heavy emphasis on this very phenomenon.
Baudrillard once said that “We live in a world where there is more and more information and less and less meaning.” According to Baudrillard‘s simulacrum theory, humans have lost contact with the real world. To Baudrillard, what we encounter as everyday consumers is so far from the truth itself. We digest and process daily simulations of actual events or ideas. He mentions that our reality is based on what we see in movies, and on the news through media. For example, we can picture a plane crash in our minds, but most likely it’s not because we’ve been involved in one. Knowing the image of a plane crash is a reality created by television or media. Even though Baudrillard‘s theory was published in 1981, it somehow has never been more relevant than now…
Social media share basically the same principles. Our modern world is a funhouse mirror that distorts our sense of self through the perception of others. How much time do you spend evaluating yourself online when you go through your newsfeed on Facebook? Comparing yourself to others who carefully curate what you get to know about their life through social media. Online everyone is perfect, and lives their dream life, while in reality, it might not be the case. When we look at content that is designed to influence us, at selfies, or perfect moments eclipsing perfect filtered scenes, we can only find ourselves to be insufficient. We have online friends, pen-pals, that we have never met before. We have conversations, that never reallytake place… Philosopher Jean Baudrillard calls this blurring of real-life and imagined life which he calls the hyperreality.
It’s almost as if we have fragmented identities that can operate on different levels: a virtual one, and a physical one. But doesn’t that mean we lose part of our identity every time we take photos or videos at a show and look at the concert through our phone instead of observing what happens in real life? Does the event become a meaningless representation of the real thing? Do we lose something in bashing through crowds to snap a perfect picture of the Grand Canyon ensuring you have the right angle rather than just being in its presence, living in the moment, and ensuring you take it all in? Isn’t it less meaningful when we have drinks with our friends and everyone is busy on their phone when we could actually be there in the moment having fun with loved ones? This state of being has made plentiful people around the globe insecure, as they witness first hand the perfection of other people’s lives when they check their social media accounts causing FOMO, anxiety, and depression.
The storyline of the music video was food for thought. Especially since as a concert photographer, it’s my job to ensure fans get memories in the form of a photograph from shows, and it made me realize how nowadays more and more people forget about that. Yesterday I attended a show and more and more phones blocked my image, as I tried to capture the band’s best moments on stage. One fan even decided to have a live stream which prevented her from seeing the concert first hand. Often having to photograph shows also means that during the time I work, I am too focused to enjoy any performance I’m shooting. A while ago I decided not to spend too much time on my phone, or film too much during concerts, as I want to really focus on the live experience, and it has made these experiences so much more worth the while. I can only conclude by recommending you to do the same, after all, bands put on these productions for our entertainment, and we can show our appreciation by completely immersing ourselves in what they have prepared for us.
Article by Laureline Tilkin