Help! I’m Drowning in Hyperreality (and other thoughts on remediation)

In a nutshell, my repurposing project is a part-narrative, part-theoretical, and part-argumentative essay that explores the relationship between hyperreality and cultural appropriation; essentially, I argue that cultural appropriation is a byproduct of a society that preferences representations/images/simulations over cultures (and I explore why, exactly, I find this so objectionable). Here are my remediation ideas, each with varying degrees of plausibility:

 

  1. Photography project 1: Because my essay engages directly with the notion of a simulated reality (hyperreality), photography appears to be the perfect application. Photographs are, ultimately, simulations— representations of “truth” that are inevitably and irrevocably false (think: Ceci n’est pas une pipe). For the project, I image a photography series called something along the lines of “Out of Context.” This would work to artistically capture certain cultural texts, products, or ideas that have been purposefully divorced from their context (ie: a potted plant in a dumpster, McDonald’s french fries in a Taco Bell store, etc.). Alternatively, this photo series could depict people interacting with images and symbols as if they were in fact people as a way of commenting on our tendency to replace empathetic connection with material goods.

 

  1. Photography project 2: Alternatively, I could create a documentary photography project that purposely emphasizes contradiction in hyperreal spaces. I would do so by combining a series of portraits (of my friends, my family, strangers, classmates, professors) that represent a sort of external, public “truth” with a series of written narratives that represent an internal, personal “truth”. I would match portrait to narrative, playing with the disconnect between appearance and words by emphasizing the dissonance between our internal and projected realities. In short, I would ensure that the image of the person doesn’t “properly” mirror their narrative; rather, these representations of personhood would be disjunct, seemingly fragmented. Through these contradictions, I would push my audience to think about hyperreality: which version of this person is the “true” (read original) person— the image or the story? Can they both be the “true” person? Can neither? Can the complexity of personhood be captured with images or words alone? Although this wouldn’t necessarily touch on the claims about cultural appropriation made in my repurposing paper, it would still do important work with hyperreality (the concept borrowed from my original philosophy paper).

 

  1. A zine or series of zines: As a (relatively) crafty person who’s deeply passionate about independent publishing, I’m fascinated by zines— handmade, self-published miniature magazines typically featuring some combination of collage art, informal writing, and poetry. Here, I could see myself creating a zine explaining “How to Survive Hyperreality.” This zine would push me to represent my ideas graphically, exploring collage as a method of rhetoric and form (collage, not-so-coincidentally, is also an excellent method of simulating and fragmenting reality). Depending on how much we’re able to repurpose our writing in this project, I would want to rewrite portions of my essay to achieve a sort of artsy informality that better matches the zine vibe.

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