This is Photoshop or as Guy Debord would say – This is a representation of reality.
Now that I have thrown an ambiguous sentence out there, let me explain. In his book The Society of the Spectacle, published in 1967, Guy Debord predicted where western societies would end up at 40 years distance. Not convinced? Read this:
“As specialists of apparent life, stars serve as superficial objects that people can identify with in order to compensate for the fragmented productive specialisations that they actually live.” – The Spectacle of the Society
French philosopher, Debord explains and I agree that reality is now replaced with its representation. Today, his approach is relevant in almost every media platform, but when we look at magazines, it is prevalent a bit too much.
When we look at images in magazines of men/women or places or food or any other goods they are nothing but a commodity ( a photoshopped one) that is being sold to the audience. For example, when you look at an image of a well-known celebrity on a cover page – it is not her on the cover but a representation of her. We are so heavily consumed and impressed by the image of “beauty” that we forget to look past the actual truth.
A more detailed example can be social media when people look at each other on Instagram they forget that it is not them but a visual presented to them via mass media. All these are nothing but spectacles to our society.
The question that now arises is – is there an actual truth or reality? Maybe, Maybe not.
Another interesting French philosopher and sociologist, Jean Baudrillard was influenced by these ideas and studied the semiotic world. In his bizarre and ironic writings, he was interested in simulacra in society or what he described as –
“there is “no truth and objectivity”, and no one can distinguish the imaginary from real”
His theory of simulacra can be very well explained in reality TV shows in 2017, whatever we see is in an imaginary vacuum, with no roots in reality. Even more, the people living in a house in reality TV are very well aware of cameras and their presence on worldwide broadcast, which will influence their reactions. Won’t it?
Another way to explain this (maybe) is a photoshopped image of a supermodel. Is it not reality but pure simulacrum playing with our minds and making us crave that oh so hot six packs or curved body that does not exist in reality at all?
Spectacle and Simulacra are both present in my magazine called – Londonhood.When we started off with this pitch our idea for the magazine revolved around showcasing a raw and personal take on London. Now as we get closer to designing and putting our text together with images- it does seem to be a spectacle in the mass media. Trying to showcase a side of the city that has been ignored but “representing” it through images and words.
Our content including interviews with cafe owners, upcoming fashion designers and vintage shop owners, is no doubt authentic, but it seems quite impossible to not airbrush it for the audience. Thus, we may end up replacing the truth with its representation.
Afterall why would you pay £2.50 to read about immigrants or lesser known individuals who have reshaped London? Would you?