• Notes on Rehashing
    Read Now
  • The Artificial Insemination of Reality
    Read Now
  • Cinéma 68
    Read Now
  • Almayer's Folly
    Read Now
  • Approaching Present Infinity, Part 2
    Read Now
  • Festival Report: Revolutions and Political Processes at the 16th International Film Festival of Kerala
    Read Now
  • Govind Nihalani's Party: A Network of Confrontations
    Read Now
  • The Assassination of Jesse James by Coward Robert Ford
    Read Now
  • Capsule Reviews
    Read Now

The Artificial Insemination of Reality

 | Essay |

  BY Andres Tapia-Urzua

Reality is lived, represented or generated, but the simple fact of living is increasingly devalued in a world where the symbol, trade mark, financial speculation, and the virtual experience become common denominators. Digital cybernetics, for example, enables that imitation of reality happens to have the value of truth, just like when a mistake that is watched repeatedly becomes normal. Already, everything is representation and reality is confused with the copy. What is true is only valued as the referral of a world we imagine and that is described by a language that codifies it; the existence doesn’t have economic value, but its cultural representation does. The mass media describes a reality whose technical workmanship is associated to certain status of value; and the dynamics of the message as product is based on its acquisition as a sign directed at specific consumer niches.

More than in living life, we believe in a reality. Authenticity is replaced by the symbolic power of the virtual and we are incapable of noticing that illusion. The representation of the virtual and not of the real is what we could call “generation of reality”.

Reality is imagined; reality has, already, been imagined and we imitate that idea of reality. That idealization is valued, but the “none idealized” referent loses sight; doesn’t attract; doesn’t entertain; lacks economical value. This is how commercial cinema recreates its own essence, mainly, through the synthetic realism and the technical trick of the “special effect” as if they were common sense. Reality becomes a representation without ethical conflicts; an artifice supported by the myth of the infinite perfection… As the poet Antonio Machado said… “In my solitude I have seen things very clearly that were not true”. [2]


When the world is imagined based on data or signs from a market of the simulacrum, situations (and cultures) happen where the artificial is confused with the authentic and the alienation of the original feels as natural; “la copia feliz del Edén” (the happy copy of Eden), as stated by a verse of the national anthem of the republic of Chile. In this case, one of my favorite examples is the use of plastic in decorative and social contexts. On one hand, its artificiality can be used creatively as a value in itself and, on the other hand, its artificiality is resorted only to imitate other natural materials such as wood; metal; marble, etc. Among the imitation of the “natural” and the authenticity the plastic, I prefer true plastic (or wood, metal, marble); and between a false reality and artifice I prefer the veracity of the simulacrum. According to Jean Boudrillard… “The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth –it is the truth which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true”. [4]


Beyond the field of representation, virtuality has achieved multiple levels of influence:

1) In the emotional sphere there are intimate experiences such as friendship, companion, sex and even virtual maternity and paternity. This is not about authentic communication but of relationships via accumulated personal data available for an “ideal” equation based on the myth of infinite perfection.

2) Neither is it a surprise that in many cities of the world there are meeting places for social interaction where the media noise is extreme (music, sports TV, video games, etc.) and alienation predominates over conversation. These are social instances where the prominence of media products exceeds the physical space used as a stage for significant personal contact and where the passive attitude of a consumer incommunicado, voluntarily, by an immersive audio visuality, prevails.

3) In the field of education there is an increase of on-line universities; in fact, the education of the future will not be very different either virtual or real (an experience that is shaping generic and systematic). However, those with access to a real education will pay more money and will have access to social contacts specific to certain elite.  

4) In the area of food there is an imitation or substitute food; and that is why for certain urban sectors of “developed” societies, away from the natural product, to have a vegetable garden in the backyard of the house appear as a “revolutionary” activity.  For those who grew up near the centers of agricultural production this is a bit incomprehensible, but for shoots of industrial capitalism is a revelation.

A good example of the symbolic power of the market is described in an animated film called “Logorama”[6] which is based on trademarks and logos as protagonists. Corporate logos are transformed into a landscape and/or characters with social identity. This story reminds me of Nicolas Borriard when he wrote… "Our lives unfold against a changing background of images and amid a flux of data that envelops everyday life …Images are formatted like products or are used to sell other objects …These days, we reside within an enormous image zone, rather than in front of images.”[7]


The truth is that the virtual hyper-representation understood as a representation of reality becomes relevant and makes its way as a symbol of power over the imagination.. At the same time, the difference between documentary and fictional representation is diluted in the consciousness of individuals. The mediation of reality through communication technologies and simulation, too often goes beyond the capacity of ethical discernment of the people. What are the consequences of this sensorial dialectic where it seems to be an excess of systemic languages (or coded-experiences), but where there are few real experiences to contrast or counter this “language”? In the absence of a critical dialogue about this model of reality this gradually turns into a myth in which we participate primarily as consumers because this “myth” is a marketing idea to what we connect through a social cybernetic whose simulator effect produces an excess of hyper coded messages unrelated to everyday life. Our cultural identity is based on marketing strategies that, more or less, define us as social beings.

Thus, for example, the bulk of research on the generation of virtual environments that are trying to reproduce reality is being led by companies of electronic leisure or entertainment who see in this technology an outlet for their videogames and the use of the digital platform where the new basis of social order is consumption, not production.

The latest development in this regard is the use of our own bodies as digital platforms of cybernetic action through interactive devices implanted in our skin. That is, we ourselves will be the biological bearers of our own cybernetic connections; platforms of flesh and bone ready to be programmed.

In videos like “Technology of Repetition” (1999), “Slaughterhouse Karma” (1999) and “Post Guayacan” (2010), I represent the mediated and symbolic condition of our understanding of the image and, from an original record, I generate times and spaces according to a subjective system of author. According to the notion that… “Art is not the reflection of reality but the reality of that reflection”[10], the work exists and creates meaning from a reality that is recognized as a formal device and not as a representation of “reality”; which is historically implicit in the film record. The artist creates models of representation of reality to understand it according to their personal drive to the world.


Consistent with our technological advances is important to develop a critical awareness to certain patterns of media representation and interaction, emphasizing those that make possible a creative insight about our relationship with the world. We need art that in front of the images of consumption creates new strategies of representation capable of transmitting real emotions and that in the pursuit of expressive originality promotes dialogue between individuals aware of their existence and their imagination. The search for truth and for the essence of humankind is still an activity linked to free thought and to be united in the adventure of “wanting to be”; this is a kind of illusion that is not sold…  The challenge remains what to do with this energy? How could it transcend?


1. Image from the video “UP”, Andres Tapia-Urzua © 2000

2. Cfr. Antonio Machado. Poemas. Buenos Aires. Losada, 5.a ed., 1962, pág. 215.

3. Sequence from a postproduction exercise facilitated by Bill Jerlat, student of Digital Filmmaking & Video Production in the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. Nov. 2010.

4. Jean Baudrillard. “Simulacra and Simulations”. Jean Baudrillard, Selected Writings, ed Mark Poster. Stanford University Press, 1998, pp.166-184.

5. Manipulated image where the former egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak appears heading several world leaders in a peace negotiation meeting between Israelis and Palestines at the White House. The photograph was published on September 14, 2010, by the pro government newspaper "Al Ahram". According to TV images of the act, Mubarak appeared at the side of a group also formed by the President of the U.S. Barack Obama, the king Abdalá II from Jordan, the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, y the Palestine leader Mahmud Abás. "Al Ahram", nevertheless, decided to retouch the photo that presented in page 6 of the newspaper so Mubarak, instead of being in the back, could appear leading the group, being ahead even of Obama who in the original photo was heading the group. The first complaints about the photo manipulation of “Al Ahram" emerged thanks to an Egyptian "blogger", Wael Khalil, who, alerted by a friend, published the manipulated photo next to the original from an international agency in his blog ( The newspaper, that didn’t include any credit for the manipulated image, changed the snapshot in its digital edition when public opinion started to comment on the subject, but the print version still remains as proof of the manipulation.

6. Logorama is a 17 min. animated movie produced by the french collective H5 (Francois Alaux, Herve de Crey and Ludovic Houplain) . The movie describes events in the city of Los Angeles and is narrated completely through the use of more than 2, 500 corporate logos. The movie won the Prix Kodak in the Festival de Cine de Cannes 2009 Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Award for Best Animation in the 82th version of the Academy Awards. Logorama explores the heavy presence and influence of the commercial logos in our daily existence. 2009.

7. Nicolas Bourriaud. Postproduction, pag 49. The Use of the Product from Marcel Duchamp to Jeff Koons. 2000, New York: Lukas & Stemberg.

8. Image from the animated movie Logorama. H5 (Francois Alaux, Herve de Crey and Ludovic Houplain). 2009.

9. Article of Axel Christiansen, San Francisco, California. Published in Tendencias, La Tercera, Chile, Septiember 21, 2010. Page. 29.

10. Based in a slogan narrated in British Sounds… “A photography is not a reflection of reality, is the reality of that reflection”. British Sounds. Jean-Luc Goddard, Jean Henri Roger. 1969 UK/France 54 mins.

11. Image from the video “Post Guayacan”, Andres Tapia-Urzua © 2010.