Simulacrum in the Tableaux Vivants of Thomas Demand

How the ‘True World’ Ultimately Became a Fable:
Simulacrum in the Tableaux Vivants of Thomas Demand

Friedrich Nietzsche introduces a chapter of Twilight of the Idols entitled “How the ‘True World’ Ultimately Became a Fable: A History of an Error” with six concise points that purport to overturn Western philosophy by replacing representation with simulacra.[1] For Nietzsche, the true world as distinct from the world of appearances is anachronistic, misguided and irrelevant to the modern world, which has obviated and made indiscernible the distinction between the Platonic world of light and the world of shadows. He calls his own philosophy “an inverted Platonism: the farther removed from true being, the purer, the finer, the better it is. Living in semblance as goal.”[2] Ahead of, or slightly out of tune with his own time, the prophetic nature of his assertions would have to wait until the late twentieth century, especially among certain French thinkers, to receive their most meaningful development through the concept of simulacra.

Pierre Klossowski emerges as the most important figure in this regard, conceptualizing the first sustained treatment of simulacra as a productive creation and sublimation of the world. Following his lead, virtually all major thinkers in French post-war theory contribute to a renewed understanding of simulacrum as a concept and its implications for the inversion of Platonic philosophy and retreat from representational modes of thought, which had dominated Western thinking.

Many artists have benefited from this philosophical inversion, engendering a renewed interest and sustained development of simulacra as a means for thinking, absent a transcendent referent or knowing subject and outside of linguistic or social determinism. The recent sculptural and photographic work of Thomas Demand in particular reveals an understanding of the complex dynamics of simulacrum. Most importantly, his work sublimates the concept, and the experience of his art reveals simulation as a compelling, yet never simple or reductive, means of aesthetic expression.

Here, simulation is not to be understood as an inferior reproduction of an original or as artifice, but rather as a constructive means for expressing affect and sensation and for revealing the creative dimension of space. As simulacrum, Demand’s is neither a true world nor a world of appearances. His work can best be understood as a process whereby simulation assumes itself in the simulacrum, which itself has no content but expresses a world of intensities and forces.

In short, Demand’s approach helps resuscitate an affirmative conceptualization of simulacrum, which finds new life in his art, alternatively building on and challenging the concept of simulation. Opposed to recent thinkers, such as Jean Baudrillard and Fredric Jameson, for whom simulacrum becomes simple shorthand for a social critique of our increasing inability to recognize or produce the real, Demand and the Nietzschean line of thinkers, including Klossowski, Gilles Deleuze and Donna Haraway convincingly contend that it is only by relinquishing the misguided pursuit of what Nietzsche called “the true world” that novel, creative and different means of expression are engaged and the modern world is best experienced as a fable.[3]

This essay traces the lineage of thinkers who develop Nietzsche’s turn from truth to fable into a coherent concept of simulacrum as a willed affirmation of culture that compels philosophy to struggle, to turn in on itself and to reveal its relevance for aesthetic discourse and spatial theory. Then it situates Thomas Demand’s work within this lineage, positing his work as a deliberate and conscious sublimation of the simulacrum as real and the real as simulacrum. Within Demand’s creations, dichotomies between object and subject, real and unreal, nature and culture, true and false, original and reproduction lose meaning. A sophisticated and progressive understanding of simulacrum allows Demand to create anew without recourse to absolute, pre-existing and determinative realities or originary essences, on the one hand, or the skeptical insistence on the relativistic artificiality of socially constructed or subjective realities, on the other.

Thomas Demand (b. 1964) is articulate, deliberate, obsessive, and conscious of the indiscernible nature of his work, process and use of mixed media. He has said, “People ask me whether I am a photographer. I’m not. And I am not a sculptor either. The only time I have to define myself is when I get asked by other people.”[4] His trans-disciplinary approach mentally appropriates and deconstructs images of actualized or formerly existing spaces from memory or his personal life (Figs. 1-2),[5] history (Figs. 3-4), popular culture (Figs. 5-6), media (Figs. 7-9) or nature (Figs. 10-11), which he reconstructs in his studio as full-scale architectural models, using only paper, cardboard, cellophane, and other quotidian materials.

He then takes large-format photographs of these spaces, which are given generic titles and displayed unframed behind sheets of plexiglas (Fig. 12). Finally, Demand concludes his process by destroying the paper models.[6] What we as spectators see are photographs of empty stage sets reconstructed from photos of spaces and events – two-dimensional displays of three-dimensional recreations of two-dimensional images of three-dimensional spaces. However, this indefinable and elusive nature of his work makes much more sense when considered in relation to, or as part of a world of, simulacrum.

Pierre Klossowski (1905-2001) contends that his agenda is to create simulacrum. He is significant as one of the first post-war figures to recover the concept of simulacrum and apply it philosophically, especially in his work on Nietzsche, as well as aesthetically in his literary output. His conceptualization is also the most idiosyncratic, drawing a distinction between phantasm (the Greek word for simulacrum), on the one hand, as an obsessive but incommunicable image produced within us by impulses, and simulacrum (the Latin version), on the other hand, as an aesthetic or sublimated reproduction of this visible agitation of the soul.[7] Klossowski writes: “The simulacrum, in its imitative sense, is the actualization of something in itself incommunicable and nonrepresentable: the phantasm in its obsessional constraint.”[8]

Klossowski returns to ancient Rome for his etymology. Simulacrum derives from simulare, meaning to copy, represent or feign. More specifically, during the late Roman Empire, simulacrum referred to objects created by humans, especially statues of gods, which measured the ineffable power of the gods. Humans, unable to animate or invoke the soul of gods, had to seduce demonic forces through imposture to capture and enclose them in idols to be animated.[9]

The simulacrum as demonic is significantly distinct from the icons or symbols Plato and early theologians called legitimate copies because they referenced, without distortion, a transcendent entity or reality, which explains why simulacra are eschewed in Plato’s Republic and Christian thought. As John Taylor writes:

In the self-elucidating fourth section of Tableaux vivants: essais critiques 1936-1983 (2001), Klossowski recalls that in antique statuary, because it was considered impossible to create a soul to animate the simulacra of gods, the souls of intermediaries—that is, demons and angels—would be invoked and locked inside holy or sacred images so that these “idols” would thereafter have the power to perform good or evil deeds. Klossowski infers a psycholiterary theory from this ancient custom: the emotion contained in a work of art—and thus provoked in the spectator or reader—is correlative to a “demonic movement.[10]

Klossowski deals most directly with this idea in Diana at Her Bath (1956) in which the goddess Diana makes a pact with a demon so as to appear before the mortal Actaeon, in whom the demon creates the desire to possess Diana. Klossowski writes, “The demon simulates Diana in a theophany,” and “becomes Actaeon’s imagination as well as a mirror-image of Diana.”[11] In other words, the demon inhabits Diana and Actaeon, the desiring one and the desired. The demon simulates Diana, becoming her image, while also becoming the spectator, Actaeon. Simulacra then becomes dangerous, because the demon and the divine are the same, the perfect double, the exact semblance, the deception of which makes it impossible to tell the impostor from the reality, the demon from the angel, Satan from God.

For Klossowski, aesthetic expression operates similarly with the phantasm acting as the incommunicable, unintelligible and unspeakable demon that becomes obsessive, serving to individuate and makes each of us a singular case. As Lyotard writes, the phantasm “is not an unreality or de-reality, it is ‘something’ that grips the wild turbulence of the libido, something it invents as an incandescent object.”[12] Phantasm lies outside equivalence and representation serving as the ineluctable, affective counterpart to simulacrum.

Simulacrum operates then as the simulation or expression of those affects or otherwise incommunicable intensities. Simulacrum has no content in and of itself beyond forces. In other words, phantasm is obsessive but ineffable, an image arising from unconscious forces within us as impulses and intensities, while simulacrum is a necessarily inadequate literary, sculptural, pictorial or conceptual reproduction of this invisible agitation of the soul.[13] The simulacrum offers an agitated sense of the self as other in a constant state of creation and becoming. The self here is an expression of impulses and intensities, never whole, coherent or even entirely intelligible.

Nietzsche’s work, for Klossowski, is always such an agonistic expression of agitation, the obsessive and differential repetition of forces behind simulation and the constant return of the repressed. Klossowski suggests that Nietzsche’s most intense phantasm was the eternal return, the revelation of which ended Nietzsche’s aim to find the most affirmative affect and the healthiest impulse. Nietzsche was never able to reify the eternal return as phantasm or fundamental obsession, so Klossowski classifies it not as a doctrine but as a “simulacrum of a doctrine.”[14]

Demand’s work contains a similar, fundamental obsession, repeated in each of his photographs. The phantasm or eternal return occurs through what is added to the images – folds in the paper, pencil marks, open seams, tape and glue, which detail the means and process of construction. Impulses and intensities also emerge in what has been left out of the photographs – text, logos, labels, and especially human presence and signs of wear, since everything has been newly constructed. Photography for Demand is no longer representational or auratic. Instead the medium affirms the power of feeling, affect, sensation, incarnation and materiality through simulacrum as a desiring force from the chaos of which creative production and meaning must arise.

This distinction between phantasm and simulacrum emerges as the driving force behind Klossowski’s theoretical and aesthetic work, which is why in “The Phantasms of Perversion: Sade and Fourier,” Klossowski argues that the incommunicable phantasm requires the creation of a simulacrum.[15] In his essay on Bataille, Klossowski argues that “the soul must expel all that it silently imagines: only through impure speech (une parole impure) can a soul hope to [ultimately] rest in its silence, in the silence through which it exists, no longer being anything but that silence.”[16]

This distinction between phantasm and simulacrum is an etymological device for differentiating events and their commentary or comprehension. As Eleanor Kaufman writes, “the commentary is an understatement of the event, as a transgressive disjunction: the two aspects – the event and its narration – do not go together”.[17] In other words, aesthetically and mentally there is a disjunctive and transgressive synthesis between actual events and their aesthetic expression. The phantasm is a singular, ineffable and inexchangeable part of the self, while the simulacrum is general, communicable and exchangeable, belonging to the social.

In addition to his academic research and translations of Suetonius, Virgil and Augustine, Klossowski renews the French penchant for the union of philosophical ideas and carnality through his fiction. Klossowski’s own work utilizes this disjunctive and transgressive synthesis when he, for example, uses Scholastic and theological discursive strategies, vocabulary and literary tropes to narrate pornographic scenes, preventing the graphic sexual activities from titillating. The unemotional and austere sex scenes could be considered boring, “tableaux vivants,” as he referred to them, that create theatrical poses, still lives that invite careful dissemination rather than dynamic movement.

In his Laws of Hospitality Trilogy (Roberte Ce Soir from 1954, The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes from 1959, and Le Souffleur from 1965), as another case in point, Klossowski creates a Rashomon-like narrative through conventional storytelling, diary passages and theatrical dialogues and from various subjective and objective viewpoints perceived personally, vicariously, bodily and mentally. The interpersonal stories, as well as their modes of expression are inextricably linked. Characters become authors of other characters’ stories, which in turn comment on other characters and challenge previous or later events. Given this multilayered narrative approach, it is not always possible to distinguish the real from the speculative. These literary strategies allow Klossowski to remove the shock and flagrancy of an otherwise erotic series of encounters. Kaufman writes, “Klossowski makes the pornographic of a piece with Scholastic philosophy, detailing both in a florid and arcane language which in its overbearing quality serves to undermine even further any distinction of pornographic content and philosophic form.”[18] Desire and sublimation are more important than the reality of the situation.

A similar disjunction occurs in Demand’s work through distanciation, a vital part of his ongoing strategy. Like Klossowski’s erotic and transgressive encounters, Demand’s scenes are mundane and generic, yet chilling. He alternatively takes a familiar space, such as a kitchen sink, office space or broom closet, conceptually loads it, and “meticulously scrubs away all evidential significance from the scenes he depicts. He utterly defeats the forensic gaze. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that no crime has been committed or that it can’t be solved; just that one can never know simply by looking, no matter how hard.”[19] Nevertheless, the possibility (in many cases likelihood) that spectators will not understand a reference is overshadowed by the knowledge that the image might refer to something of historical important or be hiding violent acts.

The obsessive phantasms and the generic titles reveal everything as an abstraction of itself. The photos are displayed at a size big enough to reveal that his is a world made of paper in which nothing is accidental, so while our modes of viewing ostensibly remain the same, the content of our gaze reveals another disjunction. As Caoimhin Mac Giolla Leith writes:

Deprived of a significant proportion of the pictorial accidentals that might ordinarily provide a purchase for the Barthean ‘punctum’, our gaze tends to skid off these photographic reproductions of relatively pristine, fragile surfaces that simultaneously invite and rebuff close scrutiny. Aside from the very occasional wrinkle, pencil mark, or morsel of adhesive tape, our gaze tends inevitably to be attracted to the edges and seams of the construction, where the illusion begins to fray and unravel, and the true nature and inherent physical properties of these paper-thin, tell-tale fabrications reassert themselves.”[20]

More importantly, as we as subjects are denied entry into the photograph, becoming yet another object, Demand compels our gaze to overturn the subject/object distinction showing that utilitarian objects have emotional value and spaces have intensities.

If Klossowski is most influential in recovering Nietzsche’s relation to the simulacrum, then Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) is the figure who does the most to elucidate and expand Klossowski’s concept of simulacrum. He also completes the task Nietzsche set and Klossowski only hinted at: the complete inversion of Platonic thought. In the preface to Difference and Repetition, Deleuze writes:

Modern thought is born of the failure of representation, of the loss of identities, and of the discovery of all the forces that act under the representation of the identical. The modern world is one of simulacra. Man did not survive God, nor did the identity of the subject survive that of substance. All identities are only simulated, produced like an optical ‘effect’ by a more profound game of difference and repetition. We propose to think difference in itself, independently of the forms of representation which reduce it to the Same, and the relation of different to different independently of those forms which make them pass through the negative.[21]

Deleuze’s entire philosophical project can be seen as an explication of this declaration of intent. His analysis of the simulacrum informs what he considers the central problem of contemporary theory: replacing representational modes of thought with assemblages.[22]

Deleuze extends and updates the concept to affirmatively define all objects as simulacrum. He writes, “Things are simulacra themselves, simulacra are the superior forms, and the difficulty facing everything is to become its own simulacrum, to attain the status of a sign in the coherence of eternal return.”[23] Here simulacrum is not a simple or inferior imitation but rather an act by which a Platonic model or privileged position is challenged and overturned. Everything, for Deleuze, exists as a multiplicity in flux and capable of taking on new relations, rather than a pure, consistent and essential presence. While a Platonic ideal copy retains an internal resemblance to its form, the simulacrum has internalized dissimilarity, maintaining its immanent capacity for difference.

These ideas are hardly intuitive and need to be carefully unpacked. However, it is first worth considering their relevance to Demand and art. Despite his indebtedness to Klossowski, Deleuze’s updating of simulacrum is preferable because Klossowski’s pseudo-religious undertones are too anachronistic to account for the decidedly atemporal facets of Demand’s spaces. The psychoanalytic devices and anthropocentric tendencies in Klossowski’s work also occlude the post-humanist tendencies in Demand’s work.

Art, for Deleuze and Demand, operates most productively when it reveals a capacity to exceed categorization and dualities of true/false, real/unreal, original/reproduction. Simulacra are judged in relation to an internal or immanent capacity for difference rather than an original model. Falsity is not a destructive loss of essence as much as a creative power to take on new forms, to decodify, to become other than what it is, to reveal an excess of meaning and to express the real. Art is affirmative only to the extent that it is not viewed as a representation of what is but rather as an expression of what is not yet, what is not present, what is not actual, extending the virtual tendencies of the world and its objects. Simulacrum eschews nostalgia, idealism, reactionary tendencies, as well as a futuristic, utopian wishes or dystopian critiques of a world of appearances.

Demand’s scenes spring to life, become animated and, ironically given Demand’s proscription against human figures, turn into powerful tableaux vivants. Demand’s objects never serve as substitutes for other objects or ideas. They do not refer to the social or symbolic nor are they capable of being distorted by perception, biases or prejudices. As Parveen Adams writes, “Demand corrects the misjudgment of our eyes. His pictures involve a different perception in which the object gaze seems to play little part. Could it be that these are pictures without the gaze?”[24] This seems a fair question, because as Ulrich Baer has noted, “[Demand’s] images are strangely resistant to the viewer’s imaginary projection into the depicted scenes.”[25]

Deleuze would answer in the affirmative. He writes, “Modern life is such that, confronted with the most mechanical, the most stereotypical repetitions, inside and outside ourselves, we endlessly extract from them little differences, variations and modifications.”[26]

Demand’s works, particularly attuned to the differential and repetitive nature of the contemporary world, returns to the virtual realm of pre-subjective, pre-individuated state of the spaces, to their creative genesis in which the capacity for difference emerges, destroying photography as auratic or representative. As the real world disappears, the hegemony and determinism of worldviews does too, as the virtual world of simulacrum emerges.

As Deleuze reminds us, Plato bifurcated existence into the real and the unreal such that representation was never an issue of model vs. copy or original vs. images, but was always an issue of two types of claimants or images (eidola). True copies operate via internal resemblance, and participate in the foundation, while simulacra operate as false claimants, dissimilar, perverted or deviated from the Idea. Art in this sense would be judged on its mimetic capacity to look like or act like an originary source. Simulacrum in this sense is posited as an inferior copy twice removed from the original. For Deleuze, however, simulacrum emerges as “an unfounded pretension, concealing a dissimilarity which is an internal unbalance.”[27]

Legitimate, Platonic copies contain an internal, discernible similarity while simulacra possess a dissimilarity. It is wrong then to define simulacrum in relation to an ideal model from which the same or resemblance can be derived. Deleuze writes, “If the simulacrum still has a model, it is another model, a model of the Other (l’Autre) from which there flows an internalized dissemblance.”[28] That is, simulacrum (unlike mimesis) has no point of view, subject position or static identity. The photographic effects of Demand’s work lead toward a related disembodiment of the viewer as a subject. Demand says, “walking into the paper structure would spoil it, sitting on a chair would destroy. [… It] keeps you very aware of yourself. You feel like not existing but only as long as you are extremely careful in your movements: that means very existing.”[29]

In addition to positing identity as other, Demand also allows the architecture to disembody and produce difference spatially and for temporal realms to collapse, making time operate as other, as well. Demand conflates temporal realms so that past, present and future become indiscernible. Nathan Widder’s assertion, “That identity – as well as the correlate forms of difference inscribed within its concept – is not real, but instead has a status traditionally assigned to simulacra, is perhaps the most profound lesson in Deleuze’s philosophy, with implications for politics and ethics as well as ontology”[30], could just as easily by applied to Demand’s work.

Representational thought assumes stasis, linearity and teleology. It cannot account for the ineluctable and ubiquitous nature of change. Deleuze then promotes modes of expression (artistic or otherwise) that experiment, reveal hidden intensities, immanent capacities for difference and destroy illusions of fixity. Experimentation works best when it reveals the dynamics and tensions between the actual and the real, not readily identifiable differences but virtual differences and not just any portion of a series but the repetition of the entire infinite series implicated in an event.

Simulacrum is a member of a repeated series that cannot be traced back to an origin within or outside of the series or differentiated from other members of the series. The difficulty of using this idea of simulacrum, especially within art criticism, becomes readily apparent. If we cannot judge works on the basis of internal resemblances or predicates, they are not properly speaking simulacrum. If Demand deals with series (either the typologies invoked by his generic titles, the process of moving from the lived world to the studio to the gallery, or transformations through various media), we can see that Demand’s “Bathroom”, for example, is different from the paper model in its dimensionality, different from the media image in color and presence of a corpse, different from the original crime scene in terms of cleanliness. However, we do not need to compare Demand’s photographs to any originary source or to understand what superficial differences exist within his expression of a scene. These differences, readily discernible and actual, are only relevant in relation to identity.

Demand’s photographs, on the other hand, reveal real but not actual differences. His photographs are actual, as were the models in his studio, as well as the original scenes and the spaces to which the photographs refer. However, Demand’s art reveals virtual meaning, that these scenes and our experience of them are part of an infinite series rather than a representation of an authorized, transcendent or originary source. Demand does this not by treating difference literally, altering details or animating the tableaux, but by returning the event to a pre-individuated state before its identity emerged and prior to its codification.

Demand’s works operate as processes more than stable identities, this is why his “rules” are constantly decodified and broken. His approach, process and the meaning and content of his work can be approached but never grasped. This is why impulses, in Klossowski’s terms, or intensities to use Deleuze’s, are more meaningful before Demand’s photographs than identity or social critique. Demand understands that, as Deleuze writes:

The copy is an image endowed with resemblance, the simulacrum is an image without resemblance. The catechism, so much inspired by Platonism, has familiarized us with this notion. God made man in his image and resemblance. Through sin, however, man lost his resemblance while maintaining the image. We have become simulacra. We have forsaken moral existence in order to enter into aesthetic existence.[31]

For Demand, the simulacrum is active, reacting and shaping mental space. It never merely repeats the same and the similar. The power of simulacra, for Deleuze, is neither its mimetic properties nor its capacity to operate in opposition to what is real. The simulacrum demolishes the hierarchy that distinguishes between original and copy.

Like Deleuze, Demand’s goal is to dismantle the distinction between essence and appearance. As a case in point, Demand placed Clearing, his simulacrum of a forest and a specific spot in the Venetian public gardens, comprised of 270,000 individually cut leaves of green paper, outside, exhibited within the “original”. Demand explains the effect when he says:

If you do something mimetic, something that looks like something else, the biggest task is when you put it in the thing you are copying, because then it is easiest to realize how wrong it is. If you do this with nature, it’s even worse because we are so used to what nature looks like. So I like the task of putting an artificial piece of nature in the middle of nature, and then seeing whether the tension between the two is productive.[32]

Demand reveals the limits and extends the category of the sublime landscape, part of the German Romantic tradition. However, as an illusion it becomes much more productive and potentially engaged.

Rather than creating categories to contain pre-existing entities, Demand has replaced essentialism with multiplicity by eschewing the presentation of ideal images or Platonic models in favor of revealing how the singular, the novel, the unique, the exceptional can emerge from these categories. In other words, the actual and the present emerge from the virtual realm of categorization rather than the virtual, the past or the future being projected from a stable presence. As Adams writes, “If there is an index here—the scene that is ‘captured’ in the photograph—it nonetheless has little correspondence to what is seen by the spectator. There is no simple referent. Paradoxically, the object that is there is the very thing that puts the index into question. For it is no longer a secure object, saturated with meanings that locate both it and us, physically and psychically.”[33] Nothing in our categorization of “Room”, for example could account for what actually occurred in Hitler’s headquarters. Simulacrum is this excess.

The affirmation of the simulacrum as difference and as a creative tool for expression stands in stark contrast to the Platonic conception of the term, which still dominates philosophical, cultural and aesthetic discourse. Beyond quotidian uses of the term, Jean Baudrillard’s (1929-2007) treatment of simulacrum is the most popular and oft-cited version of the concept in late modern thought. However, what Baudrillard lacks in philosophical rigor he makes up for in his flair for social critique, such that the liberal arts and social sciences often tacitly posit his as the only theory of simulacrum.

Against Deleuze and Klossowski, Baudrillard defines simulacrum negatively, arguing that media culture has reduced everything to surface images with no referent and no meaning. He thus places simulacrum at the center of social critique, cultural theory and popular culture, invoking apocalyptic tones and millennial fervor, capturing post-Watergate anxiety, as well as the influence of new communications and technology. He also accounts for the dominant changes in visualization and thinking that follow the increasing amount of time we spend staring at various registers of representation, including photographs, film, television and computer screens.

Like Klossowski and Deleuze, Baudrillard returns to antiquity to begin his consideration of simulacrum. The Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes is credited for the epigraph of his influential Simulacra and Simulation: “The simulacrum is never what hides the truth – it is truth that hides the fact that there is none. The simulacrum is true.”[34] However, this passage itself is a play on the elusiveness of truth. Just as Baudrillard will find our ultimate and negative truth in what does not exist, the originary quote here does not exist as a referent.

The return to religious origins is telling, as it further opposes Baudrillard to Klossowski and Deleuze who found complex theological and social meaning in original simulacra. For Baudrillard, however, like for Plato and early Christians, simulacra serve merely as false idols. Images kill the thing, destroy the real and murder divine identity. The problem with the icons is that they have a facility “of effacing God from the consciousness of men”, in the process suggesting that “ultimately there has never been any God, that only the simulacrum exists, indeed that God himself has only ever been his own simulacrum.”[35]

Just as faith depends on a transcendent figure, Western philosophy and contemporary discourse for Baudrillard depend on representation, the firm belief properly constructed and comprehended that signs can reveal Truth and meaning. If signs are to operate within a system of exchange, and be exchangeable for something meaningful, then something incapable of being simulated has to guarantee that meaning. Religions have God, Plato has the Idea, but when these concepts themselves become representable, the entire system falters and becomes an interminable loop of exchange, a closed system inaccessible to or from reality.

Baudrillard distinguishes between three “orders” of simulacra within modernism. Operating teleologically, each order moves further from the medieval and feudal social order with its fixed hierarchy of signs. The first order simulacrum refers to an original as revealed in the Renaissance and Baroque notion of counterfeit; second order simulacra are produced by mechanization and the industrial revolution, which yield equivalence. Here Baudrillard establishes the eternal recurrence of the same and repetition without difference, reflecting the production techniques of the assembly line. The “third order” simulacra are a distinctly postmodern emergence, produced by media and information society, which yield a simulated hyperreality, “more real than the real” and without originary referent.

With the counterfeited object, the difference between it and the real or natural object is made apparent; in industrial production, the difference between the object and the labor process is made evident; in the era of simulation, the reproduction rather than the production of objects becomes crucial. The first order reveals the artifice as revealed in literature and painting, for instance. The second order obfuscates the boundary between reality and its representation, and Baudrillard exemplifies this tendency by alluding to Borges’ fable in “Of Exactitude in Science” in which a 1:1 scale detailed map of a territory becomes indiscernible from that which it represents. Finally, third order simulation produces hyperreality, which is “the generation by models of a real without origin or reality.”[36] That is, the model precedes the real, the map precedes the territory, detaching from representation and mimesis, and capable of being measured only functionally, never morally.

Following Baudrillard’s lead, Jameson tracks simulacra from the “pseudo-events” and “spectacles” of the Situationists. Jameson contends:

It is for such objects that we may reserve Plato’s conception of the ‘simulacrum,’ the identical copy for which no original has ever existed. Appropriately enough the culture of the simulacrum comes to life in a society where exchange value has been generalized to the point at which the very memory of use value is effaced, a society of which Guy Debord has observed, in an extraordinary phrase, that in it ‘the image has become the final form of commodity reification’.[37]

For many Leftist thinkers, the dissolution of the subject, the flattening of the distinction between the subject and object, base and superstructure, reality and illusion, and the impossibility of a critique of political economy and dialectical thinking has removed any potential foundation from which to critique or launch an oppositional politics or political art. As Baudrillard argues in For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign, all modern art (especially pop art) is an:

art of collusion vis-à-vis the contemporary world. It plays with it and is included in the game. It can parody this world, illustrate it, simulate it, alter it; it never disturbs the order, which is also its own. […] Modern art wishes to be negative, critical, innovative and a perpetual surpassing, as well as immediately (or almost) assimilated, accepted, integrated, consumed. One must surrender to the evidence: art no longer contests anything, if it ever did.[38]

However, this assertion neglects the meaningful way in which revolutionary thinking and action, if in a gradual and incremental way, can operate only by liberating oppositional politics from political economy, from dialectical thinking, and from the hegemony of stability, codification, identity and the same – in short by embracing simulacra.

In the ubiquitously anthologized “The Precession of Simulacra”, Baudrillard reverses the Platonic dichotomy but, unlike Deleuze, does not invert it. Baudrillard writes, “It is no longer a question of imitation, nor even of parody. It is rather a question of substituting signs of the real for the real itself. […] Illusion is no longer possible because the real is no longer possible”[39]. That is, Baudrillard leaves the philosophical concepts of truth and representation untouched. For him, they are simply lost, but never redefined. In what can be read as a negative parody of Nietzsche’s introduction to “How the ‘True World’ Ultimately Became a Fable”, Baudrillard offers his own bullet points. He writes:

So it is with simulation, insofar as it is opposed to representation […]

This would be the successive phases of the image:
-it is the reflection of a basic reality
-it masks and perverts a basic reality
-it masks the absence of a basic reality
-it bears no relation to any reality whatever: it is its own pure simulacrum[40]

His nostalgic wish for a return to a time when things were real and had an aura does not invert Platonism or redefine the power of images, as with Deleuze, but serves to lament the neutering of reality in which everything is reduced to its exchange value.

Demand challenges these assumptions because media for him can reveal alternative viewpoints and teach difference. Demand’s work complexifies media by deconstructing, critiquing and displacing it. For Baudrillard, a medium like paper can be reduced to a signifier or communicative sign, as with a written document, or a representation of value or unit of exchange, as with paper money or tickets. Demand, however, uses the media of paper and photography to produce difference rather than reinforce ideology. Simulacrum for him is not a nihilistic reading of media but a means for negotiating the contested realms of image making.

Instead of a simple lament or critique of media, Demand reveals the capacity to think through his images. The problem of interpretation is not so much that he doesn’t provide a viewpoint on which we as spectators are dependent, but that he opens up his images to any viewpoint possible, all elements in the series. The uncanny sense of familiarity is replaced with the sense of construction. If there is lack in his photographs, it is an open lack, a productive desiring that can be filled, and Demand is training us not just to look differently but also to think differently. Demand’s works perplex and confound only insofar as we view simulacrum, as Baudrillard does, negatively. Demand questions our perception of reality and media phenomenon, but never as a purely critical gesture. His move is a creative one that captures and extends notions of what is real rather than questioning the real­­.

While Baudrillard laments the destruction or loss of reality by simulacra, Donna Haraway (b. 1944) constructs a concept that holds the disparate pieces of post-modern existence together and suggests creative means for moving beyond staid dichotomies. Unlike Baudrillard, Haraway views the “cybernetization” of society with optimism. She writes, “By the late twentieth century, our time, a mythic time, we are all chimeras, theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism; in short we are cyborgs. The cyborg is our ontology; it gives us our politics.”[41]

Even though Haraway rarely uses the term simulacrum, she is acutely attuned to its historical, critical and productive dynamics.[42] “Cyborg” was coined by Manfred Klynes and Nathan Kline in 1960 as a portmanteau for the combination of cybernetic technology and organism and made popular by science fiction, but Donna Haraway has given the term its intellectual meaning and developed it into a concept that serves as an alternative synonym for simulacrum. Like Klossowski and Deleuze for whom simulacrum is a simulation of a phantasm and a simulation of a Platonic “Idea”, respectively, Haraway’s simulacrum is complex, ironic and playful. However, like Baudrillard’s version, in which it serves as a simulation of the “real”, Haraway’s is socially conscious and capable of cultural critique and commentary on politics and power.

Haraway confirms Deleuze’s non-foundational materialism and his focus on relations. As a hybrid, an assembly or machine, the cyborg exists as a continuously unfinished project making connections and deliberately blurring categorical boundaries between human and machine, nature and culture, male and female. Like Deleuze, she also develops subject and object as close affinities equally capable of affect and affecting rather than opposing entities.

For Haraway, cyborg operates as a process for building a more livable world and for thinking differently. Cyborg, like the ideas behind Demand’s spaces, despite constant tendencies to do so, cannot be reified. Instead both figures return to the virtual realm of potentials in order to make connections, playing with time, identity, space and cultural critique. Haraway writes:

Cyborg imagery can suggest a way out of the maze of dualisms in which we have explained our bodies and our tools to ourselves. This is a dream not of a common language, but of a powerful infidel heteroglossia. It is an imagination of a feminist speaking in tongues to strike fear into the circuits of the super-savers of the new right. It means both building and destroying machines, identities, categories, relationships, space stories. Though both are bound in the spiral dance, I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess.[43]

Thomas Demand’s simulacra of spaces of trauma, nature and the quotidian extend and sublimate these theoretical approaches. His modeled, photographed and unframed works act as sites of encounter that express relations between things, space, memory, ideas, events and materiality, as well as a psychological strangeness, rather than represent a coherent or intelligible external reality. Demand is more interested in process than mimesis, treating spaces and restaging events as the creative genesis of thought, adding his own traces of making and indices of references while removing subjects to present an aestheticized ahumanism that, like Haraway, moves beyond anthropocentrism.

Haraway coins another (if slightly less imaginative) neologism, “natureculture”, to emphasize the impossibility of separating the natural and the cultural. What we generally think of as nature is “one of culture’s most startling and non-innocent products,”[44] and culture is equally a product of nature. She considers the separation of nature and culture an ideological act and considers the identity of the cyborg to be neither socially constructed nor the result of a natural or stable essence. She writes, “We can be responsible for machines, they do not dominate or threaten us. We are responsible for boundaries, we are they.”[45]

Haraway’s cyborg as an uncanny hybrid of the real and the artificial then reflects Demand’s work. He says, “Sculpture aims for permanence, for presence, while the photograph is destined to render something visible that occurred at a particular moment in front of the lens. Essentially I play these two forms off each other, adding a few neat complications that have to do with the concept of time.”[46]

Haraway also informs the narrative capacity of thinking. In variations on an oft-repeated phrase, she says, “There’s no place to be in the world outside of stories. […] Understanding the world is about living inside stories.”[47] Haraway’s contention that “objects are frozen stories” elucidates Demand’s works, which produces a cyborgian space and gives cyborgs a place to live. Simulating a space, here, is not repetition of the same but a reconstruction of an image and a process with difference – in other words, telling a story.

Demand also allows us to connect, as Haraway prefers, through something other than kinship, family, origins and originary myths. Haraway’s cyborg is an attempt to break away from Oedipal narratives and philosophical or theological doctrines of origins. In her “Cyborg Manifesto”, she writes: “The cyborg does not dream of community on the model of the organic family, this time without the Oedipal project. The cyborg would not recognize the Garden of Eden; it is not made of mud and cannot dream of returning to dust.”[48]

Like Deleuze, Haraway eschews essentialism in favor of multiplicity, and considers identity to be similarly multiple and other. Her question, “Why should our bodies end at the skin?”[49], is a profoundly ontological one in which bodies and boundaries become virtual, desubjectified extensions rather than tools for normative critical gestures.  Simple reflection, the repetition of the same and the similar, simply displaces, while the figuration Haraway espouses and Demand creates are performative, creating more radical elsewheres. She writes:

Reflexivity is a bad trope for escaping the false choice between realism and relativism in thinking about strong objectivity and situated knowledges in technoscientific knowledge. What we need is to make a difference in materialsemiotic apparatuses, to diffract the rays of technoscience so that we get more promising interference patterns on the recording films of our lives and bodies.[50]

In order to perpetuate this line of thought, Haraway continues to create an ever-expanding bestiary or menagerie, which in addition to the cyborg, now includes OncoMouse™, FemaleMan©, Mixotricha paradoxa, vampire, gene, chip, database, dog and so on. One final example reveals the relevance of these creatures to Demand’s work. Haraway writes:

M. paradoxa is a nucleated microbe with five distinct kinds of internal and external prokaryotic symbionts, including two species of motile spirochetes, which live in various degrees of structural and functional integration with the host. About one million ‘individuals’ of the five kinds of prokaryotes live with, on, and in the nucleated being that gets the generic name Mixotricha. […] When the congeries reach a couple of million, the host divides; and then there are two – or some power of ten to two. All the associated creatures live a kind of obligate confederacy. Opportunists all, they are nested in each other’s tissues in a myriad of ways that make words like competition and cooperation, or individual and collective, fall into the trash heap of pallid metaphors and bad ontology.[51] This tiny hair-like thing in the termite’s hindgut, then, unsettles our ‘normal’ way of thinking about individuals and groups, and about relationships; it ‘interrogates individuality and collectivity at the same time’. [52]

Demand’s space is, like the M. paradoxa, parasitic, dependent on or simulating events and images already in existence. However, like Haraway’s microbe, Demand’s work is created to facilitate further creation, to extend and challenge relationships between ourselves and the environment, to complicate our understanding of media, to undermine the distinction between collective and individual and to reveal ours as a virtual world capable of being modified and re-modified in an infinite variety of ways.

Jean Baudrillard argues that media culture has reduced everything to surface images with no reference to the real. Klossowski’s notion of the simulacra breaks with the reactionary nostalgia that would revert to a mythological time when life was more real. Deleuze rejects the idea that we now live in a postmodern world of mere images with no real causes, because form him the simulacrum as a world of images is real, and life has always been simulation understood properly as a power of production, becoming and difference. Haraway solidifies the simulacrum as a force of life that enhances (and is enhanced by) powers of variation, intensities and excess. Similarly, Demand’s works are powerful because they become other than what they are, they exceed the totality of their parts and serve to imagine what is not yet, as well as the pre-subjective world of singularities from which such virtual potential arises. As Deleuze writes, “The simulacrum is not just a copy, but that which overturns all copies by also overturning the models: every thought becomes an aggression.”[53] Demand’s work thrives on a power of the simulacrum not by merely reproducing or parodying media and images with no respect for the real but by producing new simulations and new expressions of the real.

Bibliography

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—–. Simulacra and Simulation. Translated by Sheila Faria Glaser. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994.
—–. Simulations. Translated by Paul Foss, Paul Patton and Philip Beitchman. New York: Semiotext(e), 1983.
Bechtler, Christina, Editor. Art, Fashion, and Work for Hire. Thomas Demand, Peter Saville, Hedi Slimane, Hans Ulbrich Obrist and Cristina Bechtler in Conversation. Vienna and New York: Springer, 2008.
Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Translated by Harry Zohn. In Illuminations. Edited by Hannah Arendt. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1968. 217-252.
Deleuze, Gilles. Difference and Repetition. Translated by Paul Patton. Edited by Constantin V. Boundas. New York: Columbia UP, 1990.
—–. The Logic of Sense. Translated by Mark Lester with Charles Stivale. Edited by Constantin V. Boundas. New York: Columbia UP, 1990.
—–. “Plato and Simulacrum.” Translated by Rosalind Krauss. October 27 (Winter 1983) 45-56.
Derrida, Jacques. Spurs: Nietzsche’s Styles. Trans. Stefan Agnosti. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.
Foucault, Michel. Foucault, “The Prose of Actaeon.” Stephen Sartarelli, Trans. Religion and Culture. Manchester: Manchester UP, 75-84.
—–. This is Not a Pipe. Translated and Edited by James Harkness. Illustrations and Letters by Rene Magritte. University of California Press, 2008.
Haraway, Donna. “Cyborgs and symbionts: living together in the new world order’, in C. Gray (ed.) The Cyborg Handbook, London: Routledge, 1995
—–. “Introduction: a kinship of feminist figurations”, in Donna Haraway (ed.) The
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—–. Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium.FemaleMan_Meets_OncoMouse: Feminism and Technoscience. New York: Routledge, 1997.
—–. “Reading Buchi Emecheta: contests for ‘women’s experience’ in women’s studies’, inSimians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature, London: Free Association Books, 1991: 109 – 24.
—–. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge, 1991.
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Karmel, Pepe. “The Real Simulations of Thomas Demand,” Art in America 93, no. 6 (June/July 2005) 146-9.
Kaufman, Eleanor. “Klossowski, Deleuze, and Orthodoxy.” Diacritics 35, no. 1, (Spring 2005) 47-59.
Klossowski, Pierre. Diana at Her Bath/The Women of Rome. Trans. Sophie Hawes and Stephen Sartarelli. Marsilio Publishers, 2008.
—–. “Of the Simulacrum in Georges Bataille’s Communication.” In On Bataille: Critical Essays. Edited by Leslie Anne Boldt-Irons. Albany: SUNY Press, 1995.
—–. Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle. Translated by Daniel W. Smith. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969.
—–. “The Phantasms of Perversion: Sade and Fourier” trans. Paul Foss and Paul Patton. Art & Text 18: Phantasm and Simulacra (July 1985) 22-34.
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Nietzsche, Friedrich. Twilight of the Idols: or How to Philosophize with a Hammer. Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions Ltd. 2007.
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Schwabsky, Barry “A Makeshift World: On Thomas Demand.” (http://www.thenation.com/article/makeshift-world-thomas-demand?page=0,1)
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—–. “Klossowski, Deleuze, and Orthodoxy.” Diacritics 35, no. 1, (Spring 2005) 8-21.
Thomas Demand: Processo Grottesco / Yellowcake. Foreword by Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli. Text by Germano Celant, Alex Farquharson, Robert Storr, Carlo Bonini. Milan: Progetto Prada Arte, 2008.
Taylor, John. “Reading Pierre Klossowski” Context No. 14. (http://www.dalkeyarchive.com/book/?GCOI=15647100508100&fa=customcontent&extrasfile=A1261257-B0D0-B086-B63DD66518A77BD8.html).
Trodd, Tamara. “Thomas Demand, Jeff Wall and Sherrie Levine: Deforming ‘Pictures’.” Art History 32, no. 5 (December 2009) 954-976.
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Widder, Nathan. “The Rights of Simulacra: Deleuze and the Univocity of Being.” Continental Philosophy Review Volume 34: Number 4 437-453.


[1] Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols: or How to Philosophize with a Hammer (Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions Ltd. 2007) 22. He writes:

HOW THE “TRUE WORLD” FINALLY BECAME A FABLE. The History of an Error

1. The true world — attainable for the sage, the pious, the virtuous man; he lives in it, he is it. (The oldest form of the idea, relatively sensible, simple, and persuasive. A circumlocution for the sentence, “I, Plato, am the truth.”)
2. The true world — unattainable for now, but promised for the sage, the pious, the virtuous man (“for the sinner who repents”). (Progress of the idea: it becomes more subtle, insidious, incomprehensible — it becomes female, it becomes Christian.)
3. The true world — unattainable, indemonstrable, unpromisable; but the very thought of it — a consolation, an obligation, an imperative. (At bottom, the old sun, but seen through mist and skepticism. The idea has become elusive, pale, Nordic, Königsbergian [i.e. Kant].)
4. The true world — unattainable? At any rate, unattained. And being unattained, also unknown. Consequently, not consoling, redeeming, or obligating: how could something unknown obligate us? (Gray morning. The first yawn of reason. The cockcrow of positivism.)
5. The “true” world — an idea which is no longer good for anything, not even obligating — an idea which has become useless and superfluous — consequently, a refuted idea: let us abolish it! (Bright day; breakfast; return of bon sens and cheerfulness; Plato’s embarrassed blush; pandemonium of all free spirits.)
6. The true world — we have abolished. What world has remained? The apparent one perhaps? But no! With the true world we have also abolished the apparent one. (Noon; moment of the briefest shadow; end of the longest error; high point of humanity; INCIPIT ZARATHUSTRA.).

[2] Reprinted in Martin Heidegger, Nietzsche Vol. I: The Will to Power as Art (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981) 154.

[3] Beyond the figures elucidated here, virtually all seminal French thinkers in the post-war era return to Nietzsche’s work and address the concept of simulacrum. It is beyond the scope of this essay to consider all of these approaches, but for an even more complex picture of late modern simulacrum, consult Roland Barthes’ “The Structuralist Activity”, Jacques Derrida’s book on Nietzsche, Spurs, Foucault’s essay on Klossoski, “The Prose of Actaeon”, as well as his book on Rene Magritte, This is Not a Pipe, Jean-Francois Lyotard’s Libidinal Economy and Maurice Blanchot’s essay on Klossowski, “Laughter of the Gods”. Georges Bataille is Klossowski’s principle influence on the topic of simulacrum, which the latter has covered in “Of the Simulacrum in Georges Bataille’s Communication”. (See Bibliography for full citations.)

[4] Christina Bechtler, Editor, Art, Fashion, and Work for Hire. Thomas Demand, Peter Saville, Hedi Slimane, Hans Ulbrich Obrist and Cristina Bechtler in Conversation (Vienna and New York: Springer, 2008) 27.

[5] See Appendix for images

[6] Demand is not hesitant to break his own “rules” especially to avoid their codification into rigid prescriptions. While his paper is generally both structural and decorative, his reconstruction of the Venice Giardini, for example, utilizes a wire mesh armature around which paper is applied to construct the organic tree trunks and limbs. Other works, such as “Autobahn” – too large to construct in his studio – are instead constructed at the size of the final, exhibited photograph. More recently he has animated his models, exhibiting them as video, and in rare instances, such as his “Grotto” at the Serpentine pavilion, he displays the paper model.

[7] Etymologically, phantasm and simulacrum are synonyms, the former Greek and the latter Latin. Most philosophers, especially throughout late modernism, use the two terms interchangeably, generally favoring the latter.

[8] Reprinted in Daniel Smith, “Klossowski, Deleuze, and Orthodoxy,” Diacritics 35, no. 1, (Spring 2005) 16.

[9] For the best treatment of this history and etymology, see Gilles Deleuze, “Plato and Simulacrum” Translated by Rosalind Krauss, October 27 (Winter 1983) 45-56 and Daniel Smith, “The Concept of Simulacrum: Deleuze and the Overturning of Platonism,” Continental Philosophy Review 38 (2006) 89-123.

[10] John Taylor, “Reading Pierre Klossowski” Context No. 14 (http://www.dalkeyarchive.com/book/?GCOI=15647100508100&fa=customcontent&extrasfile=A1261257-B0D0-B086-B63DD66518A77BD8.html).

[11] Pierre Klossowski. Diana at Her Bath/The Women of Rome. Translator Sophie Hawes and Stephen Sartarelli. (Marsilio Publishers 2008) passim.

[12] Jean-Francois Lyotard. Libidinal Economy Trans. Ian Hamilton Grant (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1993) 72. Phantasm as impulse here is associated with the drives, desire, instinct, power, force, passion, feeling, affect and pathos. As John Taylor writes, “The ‘demonic’ aspects of Klossowski’s artistic philosophy, in its later stages, perhaps seem closer to the psychoanalytical paradigms of obsession and phantasm than to Christian concerns with evil and the Devil.”

[13] The early influence of Klossowski on French thought is perhaps most clear (and interesting as a point of comparison) in Roland Barthes’ “The Structuralist Activity” (1960), in which he defines “structure” as “a simulacrum of the object, but a directed, interested simulacrum, since the imitated object makes something appear which remained invisible or, if one prefers, unintelligible in the natural object. Structural man takes the real, decomposes it, then recomposes it; this appears to be little enough (which makes some say that the structuralist enterprise is “meaningless,” “uninteresting,” “useless,” etc.). Yet from another point of view, this “little enough” is decisive: for between the two objects, or the two tenses, of structuralist activity, there occurs something new, and what is new is nothing less than the generally intelligible: the simulacrum is intellect added to object, and this addition has an anthropological value, in that it is man himself, his history, his situation, his freedom, and the very resistance nature offers to his mind” (215).

[14] Reprinted in Deleuze “Plato and Simulacrum” 55.

[15] “The Phantasms of Perversion: Sade and Fourier” trans. Paul Foss and Paul Patton, in Art & Text 18: Phantasm and Simulacra (July 1985) 22-34 passim.

[16] Pierre Klossowski. “Of the Simulacrum in Georges Bataille’s Communication,” in On Bataille: Critical Essays Edited by Leslie Anne Boldt-Irons (Albany: SUNY Press, 1995).

[17] Eleanor Kaufman, “Klossowski, Deleuze, and Orthodoxy” Diacritics, Volume 35, Number 1, (Spring 2005) 48.

[18] Kaufman 49. Deleuze will later coin the term “pornology” to refer to this process where the representation of desire overshadows and replaces the description of sexual activity.

[19] Barry Schwabsky, “A Makeshift World: On Thomas Demand (http://www.thenation.com/article/makeshift-world-thomas-demand?page=0,1)

[20] Caoimhin Mac Giolla Leith, “Hard Landing: Translation and Artifice in the Work of Thomas Demand,” Thomas Demand: L’Esprit De’Escalier (Dublin: Walther Konig 2007) 37.

[21] Gilles Deleuze Difference and Repetition trans. Paul Patton (New York: Columbia UP, 1994) ix.

[22] In two books, Difference and Repetition and The Logic of Sense, Deleuze posits simulacrum as central to his philosophical enterprise. Despite his later abandonment of the term, simulacrum forms a vital running motif throughout the rest of his career. In “The Concept of the Simulacrum”, Daniel Smith writes, “After the publication of Difference and Repetition (1968), the concept of the simulacrum more or less disappears from Deleuze’s work in favor of the concept of the agencement or ‘assemblage.’ ‘It seems to me that I have completely abandoned the notion of the simulacrum,’ Deleuze noted in 1993. […] In Deleuze’s own work, the concept of the simulacrum is ultimately replaced by the concept of the assemblage, and the process of simulation is more properly characterized as the process of actualization (or even more precisely, the complex process of ‘different/ciation’). […] Finally, one could say that, as the concept of the simulacrum disappeared from Deleuze’s writings, it was taken up by other writers (such as Baudrillard) and taken in a different direction, with different coordinates and in response to different problematics. Concepts, in this sense, have their own autonomy and history that goes beyond the diversity of their adherents” (116). In Deleuze, Whithead, Bergson, Keith Robinson writes, “In the foreword to Clet-Martin’s book, where he first mentions heterogenesis, Deleuze claims to have ‘totally abandoned the notion of Simulacrum, which is all but worthless’. This seems curious, perhaps even disingenuous, since the notion clearly becomes the ‘power of the false’ in the Cinema volumes and the text on Nietzsche. Indeed, in the same letter Deleuze talks of concepts as multiplicities where each is a passage to the other” (26-27 n15).

[23] Deleuze Difference and Repetition 67.

[24] Parveen Adams “Out of Sight, Out of Body: The Sugimoto/Demand Effect,” Grey Room 22 (Winter 2005) 92.

[25] Ulrich Baer. “Hard Landing: Translation and Artifice in the Work of Thomas Demand.” Thomas Demand: L’Esprit De’Escalier (Dublin: Walther Konig 2007) 37.

[26] Deleuze Difference and Repetition ix.

[27] Deleuze The Logic of Sense 295. For a more thorough elucidation of to Plato’s development of bifurcated, representational thinking and his influential concept of simulacrum, consult Deleuze, “Plato and Simulacrum”, which is further elucidated and expanded by Daniel Smith in his essay “The Concept of Simulacrum: Deleuze and the Overturning of Platonism”.

[28] Deleuze The Logic of Sense 295.

[29] Parveen Adams 100.

[30] Nathan Widder, “The Rights of Simulacra: Deleuze and the Univocity of Being” Continental Philosophy Review Volume 34 Number 4 449.

[31] Deleuze The Logic of Sense 295.

[32] Christina Bechtler, Editor, Art, Fashion, and Work for Hire. Thomas Demand, Peter Saville, Hedi Slimane, Hans Ulbrich Obrist and Cristina Bechtler in Conversation (Vienna and New York: Springer, 2008) 27-30.

[33] Adams 99.

[34] Jean Baudrillard Simulacra and Simulation 1.

[35] Jean Baudrillard Simulations, trans. Paul Foss, Paul Patton and Philip Beitchman (New York: Semiotext(e), 1983) 8.

[36] Jean Baudrillard Simulations 2.

[37] Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Durham: Duke UP, 1991) 18.

[38] Jean Baudrillard, For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign, trans. Charles Levin (St Louis: Telos, 1981) 110.

[39] Jean Baudrillard Simulacra and Simulation, trans. Sheila Faria Glaser (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994)19

[40] Jean Baudrillard Simulations 12-13.

[41] Donna Haraway Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (London: Free Association Books, 1991) 150.

[42] In her influential “Cyborg Manifesto”, Donna Haraway relates simulacrum to production, consumption, aesthetics, communication, science, philosophy and embodiment when she writes, “Micro-electronics is the technical basis of simulacra; that is, of copies without originals. Microelectronics mediates the translations of labour into robotics and word processing, sex into genetic engineering and reproductive technologies, and mind into artificial intelligence and decision procedures” 165.

[43] Donna Haraway Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (London: Free Association Books, 1991) 181.

[44] Donna Haraway, “Reading Buchi Emecheta: contests for ‘women’s experience’ in women’s studies’”, in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (London: Free Association Books, 1991) 109.

[45] Haraway Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature 180.

[46] “A Conversation Between Alexander Kluge and Thomas Demand” in Thomas Demand, exhibition Catalog (Serpentine Gallery, London 2006) 56.

[47] Donna Haraway with Goodeve,T. How Like a Leaf (New York: Routledge, 2000) 107.

[48] Haraway Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature 151.

[49] Haraway Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature 178.

[50] Donna Haraway Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium.Female Man©_Meets_OncoMouse™ (New York: Routledge, 1997) 16.

[51] Donna Haraway, “Cyborgs and symbionts: living together in the new world order’, in C. Gray (ed.) The Cyborg Handbook (London: Routledge, 1995) Xviii.

[52] Donna Haraway with T. Goodeve How Like a Leaf (New York: Routledge, 2000) 83.

[53] Deleuze Difference and Repetition xix-xx, 2-3.

2 Responses to “Simulacrum in the Tableaux Vivants of Thomas Demand”

  1. ben mckernan says:

    hi,
    i’m just wondering who the author of this essay is?

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