Summer Research: Fei Pan

22 Aug, 2022

Summer Research: Fei Pan

We were thrilled to support Fei Pan in summer research for the project, "The Grass is Greener: Model as Intermediaries." Read more in Fei's words below!

In this project, I am interested in the questions: How the world of things becomes more and more unreal, how new realms are formed, how digital mechanics see things and shape realities, and how we perceive in mixed-realities in the post-nature discourse.

The grass is greener is based on a post-nature context, from built environment to digital landscape. By using the language of “modelling," I analyze how the world of mixed-realities, between the original-the faux-the virtual, are formed and how “modeling” works as intermediaries.

Model as Intermediaries: How Realities are Made

Within the post-nature world, constructed landscapes are replacing the natural and objective world. When it comes to the immaterial and digital world, the boundaries between the real and unreal, and realities of the physical and the virtual, become more and more blurred. We are looking for nature with post-nature objects - such as faux leaves and artificial grass carpet from Ikea, pre-planned grassland embedded in the city of concrete. Those man-made objects which are based on the original turn out to be more real than the original realm. When we look for a place now, often Google Maps comes first in mind other than the actual space. Our understanding of physical space and place is now often mediated though maps. We look at images and illusions on-screen, searching for spaces on google mapping with its virtual landscape. These created information and virtual illusions have replaced the physical in the perception of humans.

Upon awareness of the new world of mixed-reality, I also notice that it is not a static result but a dynamic and evolving process of world-making (Barikin). According to Nelson Goodman's theory of world-making, he describes the process as ‘making 'as ‘remaking’ (Goodman). But how does the process of world-making evolve? Does it follow some clue? Jean Baudrillard's theory of simulacra has provided an abstract and systematic idea of it. According to the Three Orders of Simulacra by Jean Baudrillard, the first order is defined as the Simulacra of appearance (Baudrillard and Glaser). At this stage, Humans dedicate themselves to resembling the appearance of objects, such as still life landscape painting in the Renaissance. Then it comes to the second-order- the Simulacra of production (Baudrillard and Glaser), such as Digital photography as a reproduction of illusion, and reproduction of objects. The third order-the Simulacra of simulation (Baudrillard and Glaser) - is the stage where we are at. It helps explain how the new realms are formed. The modern system and mechanism build models based on the original objects, thus the models work as intermediaries, then continue to generate new objects and realities. The formula ' A=A’=A’’ =.... ' simulates the process of recursive reality-formation; the models become the mode of reproduction of realities. Such as 3D-designed models later generated new things that don’t exist in the natural world; designed maps later generated new landscapes; also digital images - later generated new reality through mass media. In This way, artificial leaves and artificial grass carpet from Ikea, grass lawn embed in the city of concrete, images on the screen, google map with its virtual landscape are already forms of simulacra. Simulacra is the hyperreality (Baudrillard and Glaser), which replaces the original reality and becomes the new reality. It is also to say, the reality has been colonized by Simulacra (Baudrillard and Glaser).

Baudrillard, J. and Glaser, S., 2005. Simulacra and simulation. Ann Arbor, United
States: The University of Michigan Press.
Barikin, Amelia. “Making Worlds in Art and Science Fiction.” Proceedings of the 19th
International Symposium of Electronic Art (2013): n. pag. Print.
Goodman, Nelson. Ways Of Worldmaking. Hackett, 1978.