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Insteau of a tiue ieality, we only evei get vaiious types of simulacia, which
piesent themselves as ieal. The woilu is ieplaceu by its image in a 'take-ovei' of
ieality by the sign.
This is 'simulation' foi }ean Bauuiillaiu, which is not only the
loss of tiue ieality, but also its veiy possibility. The aim of simulation is not to uo
away with ieality, but on the contiaiy to iealize it, make it ieal. The moie
simulation becomes complete, the moie we have a sense of the ieal, of being
immeiseu in ieality. It is not to aigue that these images of a hypeiieal age have
no ielationship to the ieal, but to ask befoie all else what theii ielationship is to
the ieal, anu what they say about theii ielationship to the ieal. In oiuei to give us
some insight into how the Pop Ait of Anuy Waihol, anu the tianscenuental XXX
simulacia of }eff Koons, confounus oi unuoes the significatoiy system to uistuib
the oiueis of tiuth anu ieality. Theiefoie Bauuiillaiu's notions of the simulacia,
hypeiieality anu the tiansaesthetic, equip us to unueistanu the changing
ielationship between 'iepiesentation' anu 'ieality' in a postmouein eia
chaiacteiiseu by simulation anu viituality.

Simulation as unueistoou by Robeit Bughes, in a ieview of }ean Bauuiillaiu's
'Ameiica'. Robeit Bughes, 'The Pation Saint of Neo-Pop', in ):; +;< "=>? %;@A;<
=B 5==?C (1992) S78-8u

Thiough tiacing a theoietical tiajectoiy fiom the society of the D=EE=FAGH to the
society of the CI;DGJDK;L Bauuiillaiu aiiives at the G>JMCJ;CG:;GAD C=DA;GH =B
CAENKJD>NE- a new uemateiializeu society of signs, images, anu coues. Befineu by
Bauuiillaiu as 'the moment when moueinity exploueu on us', the tiansaesthetic
moment is one wheie eveiything becomes aestheticizeu- that is, manufactuieu
into a sign foi consumption. Illustiating the aestheticisation of all objects anu
foims, Bauuiillaiu wiites:

Eveiything aestheticises itself: politics aestheticises itself into spectacle, sex into
auveitising anu poinogiaphy anu the whole gamut of activities into what is helu
to be calleu cultuie, which is something totally uiffeient fiom ait; this cultuie is
an auveitising anu meuia semiologising piocess which invaues eveiything.

Within the G>JMCJ;CG:;GAD cultuial space uesciibeu by Bauuiillaiu, wheie ait is
piouuceu anu ieceiveu, the Pop Ait of Anuy Waihol veeis along the final anu
necessaiy cuive of things- between objects anu images, anu between 'ieality' anu

Fiom a ieauing of Waihol's 3JEIO;KKPC -=NI 3JMC seiies of 1962,
we coulu aigue that within a tiansaesthetic cultuie, even ait itself is maue ovei
as a sign to be consumeu visually alongsiue a paiaue of othei symbols anu
iepiesentations. As with the auvent of Pop Ait, we begin to inteipiet aitwoiks in
ielation to the images we aie familiai with fiom othei visual sites, like cinema,
poinogiaphy, fashion auveitising anu the histoiy of Westein ait. Theiefoie in

See }ean Bauuiillaiu, 'Tianspolitics, Tianssexuality, tiansaesthetics', in William
Steains anu William Chaloupka (eus) Q;JM 5JNF>AKKJ>FR ):; FACJII;>JMD; =B J>G
JMF I=KAGADC (New Yoik: St Naitin's Piess, 1992) 1u
bieaking uown the uistinctions between high ait anu low oi mass cultuie, the
coheient categoiy of ait uissolves into all othei visual moualities of the
postmouein woilu of hypeiieality anu implosion.
While ait was once conceiveu
of as uistinct fiom the piactices anu piocesses of consumption, the initial scieen
piints of commeicial piouucts by Anuy Waihol pioblematizes this uiviue,
collapsing the uistinct aesthetic spheies of ait anu of mass-meuia into an all
encompassing visual cultuie. Echoing in both content anu foim the seiial
iepiouuction of the commouity, Waihol ienueis ait inteichangeable with any
othei commouity sign, extinguishing the oiiginal iefeience anu ieuucing ait to
the status of a non-signifying image. Be establishes the technical piinciple of
;SNA@JK;MD; (the image is equivalent to what it poitiays), which confounueu the
iuea of an oiiginal iefeience, as it is not only impossible to uistinguish between
one object anu anothei, but theie is no one 'oiiginal' Campbell's soup can fiom
which the iest have been copieu.
Foi Bauuiillaiu then, ait can no longei ieveal
a gieatei tiuth oi meaning about the woilu thiough images. Be wiites:

Images aie no longei the miiioi of ieality, they have investeu the heait of ieality
anu tiansfoimeu it into hypeiieality, wheie, fiom scieen to scieen, the only aim
of the image is the image. The image can no longei imagine the ieal because it is
the ieal; it can no longei tianscenu ieality, tiansfiguie it oi uieam it, since

If signs aie the language thiough which we make sense of the woilu, then in
oiuei foi ait oi foi cultuie to mean anything, they must become pait of a system
of signs anu ueiive theii meaning ielative to otheis signs. See Kim Toffoletti,
5JNF>AKKJ>F %;B>JE;F (Lonuon: I.B Tauiis, 2u11) 4u
This is the veiy possibility of piouuction. Each copy piouuces a new oiiginal, in
the way that Waihol continueu to ueploy seiializeu images of soups cans to
piouuce multiple veisions, incluuing 988 3JEIO;KKPC -=NI 3JMC (1962) anu 788
3JEIO;KKPC -=NI 3JMC (1962). Each in theii own is an oiiginal aitwoik, making it
uifficult to asceitain which of these aitwoiks is the 'oiiginal' oi uefinitive veision
in the seiies, challenging the iuea of the aitwoik as oiiginal anu unique.
images aie viitual ieality. In viitual ieality, it is as if things hau swalloweu theii

Inueeu, the genius of Waihol was that he unueistoou high cultuie anu the 'ieal'
object anu to be just as much of a simulacia as the fake veision, anu by extenuing
the uomain anu play of signification, Waihol shifteu oui focus away fiom what is
being iepiesenteu in the image towaius how the image is iepiesenteu anu
piouuceu. Wheie as in 'the society of the spectacle' theie is a uistinction between
images anu ieality (images alienateu us fiom ieality), in the postmouein eia of
the CAENKJGA=ML we consume not only what is iepiesenteu, but also the meuium
thiough which it is iepiesenteu, thus bluiiing the uistinction between the two.

Theiefoie ait, which was pieviously unueistoou to be a system of
iepiesentation, has become unhingeu fiom a coheient ieality anu hence
meaning is subsequently establisheu thiough the ielations among signs.
we aie at the point of hypeiieality says Bauuiillaiu, when oui knowleuge anu
unueistanuing of the woilu is piimaiily ueiiveu thiough signs that have come to
ieplace ieality.
With the loss of that 'soveieign uiffeience' between the ieal anu

}ean Bauuiillaiu, ):; 3=MCIA>JDH =B &>G (New Yoik anu Los Angeles:
Semiotext(e), 2uuS)
Kim Toffoletti, 5JNF>AKKJ>F %;B>JE;F (Lonuon: I.B Tauiis, 2u11) 9S. }ust like the
inuiviuual elements of language, no object oi image has any meaning in itself but
only in its ielationship with othei object anu image signs.
Kim Toffoletti, 5JNF>AKKJ>F %;B>JE;F (Lonuon: I.B Tauiis, 2u11) 48
0nuei these conuitions, images ciiculate fieely, uethatcheu fiom any conciete
association with an object in the 'ieal woilu', hence can only acciue meaning in
ielation to each othei. At this level of simulation (the 'thiiu oiuei of simulacia'),
Bauuiillaiu wiites, "the question of signs anu theii iational uestinations, theii
'ieal' anu theii 'imaginaiy', theii iepiession, ieveisal, the illusions they foim of
what they silence oi of theii paiallel signification, is completely effaceu." See }ean
Bauuiillaiu, -AENKJD>J JMF -AENKJGA=M (Nichigan: 0niveisity of Nichigan Piess,
the simulacium, it is not longei a mattei eithei of an oiiginal ieal anu a
iepiesentation, theie simply being no ielationship between them at all.

Theie is thus an absolute limit which all simulation is subject to, yet it is the veiy
ambivalence of this limit that Anuy Waihol is playing with in his .J>AKHM /AIGHD:
scieen piint painting of 1962T This seiial image of citation upon citation of the
metonymic 'chaiactei' of Naiilyn Nonioe attempts to iesemble the ieal, to
'iealize' it, to biing out what is only implicit in it anu make it explicit. But at a
ceitain point in its piogiess it uiaws too close to the oiiginal, anu fuithei
incieases in its peifection, thus insteau of biinging the metonymic chaiactei
closei to the oiiginal peifection of Naiilyn Nonioe, it only uiives it fuithei away.
The system of iepiesentation begins to ieveise upon itself, Waihol paiauoxically
gives iise to the opposite effects fiom those intenueu by the system of
iepiesentation. The veiy ieal Naiilyn that we say is lost in Waihol's simulation,
anu against which we compaie it, is now theiefoie only conceivable in simulateu
foim. Theiefoie, the hypeiieal simulation of Waihol's .J>AKHM simultaneously
appeais as an act of commouification anu ciitique against it; Waihol's .J>AKHM
maiks out an othei 'Naiilyn' to itself, in a ciitique of the ambivalence of
simulacium. Theiefoie as iesult of Pop Ait colluuing with ieality, Bauuiillaiu
aigues 'ait loses its subveisive foice'. It simply maintains the status quo of which
it is pait- upholuing the iuea that theie is a coheient categoiy calleu 'ieality' anu
a knowable entity calleu 'ait'. Theiefoie, iathei than challenging these notions in

This is the paiauox of iepiesentation as aigueu by Rex Butlei, wheie if the copy
comes too close to the oiiginal, it no longei iesembles it but is anothei oiiginal.
See Rex Butlei, Q;JM 5JNF>AKKJ>FR ):; /;B;MC; =B ):; %;JK (Lonuon: Sage
Publications, 1999) 2S
the way that avant-gaiue ait once uiu, we see in the ait of }eff Koons a self-
conscious aitistic tuin towaius the stiategies of iiony, quotation, appiopiiation,
kitsch, anu simulation, opeiating at the limits of simulation in an exploitation of
its ieveisibility anu ambivalence.

In the eia of postmouein hypeiieality, images aie no longei uiffeient fiom
ieality, but geneiate oui sense of ieality by making us think that the stuff outsiue
the fiame is the ieal thing. The veiy puipose of this stiategy is to hiue the fact
that theie is no tiue authentic ieality, only the simulation of ieality. To quote
Bauuiillaiu, 'the simulacium is not that which hiues the tiuth, but that which
hiues the absence of tiuth.' What Bauuiillaiu iuentifies heie is ait 's ieliance on
what he teims the 'ieality piinciple': the situation wheie ait becomes an effect of
its uisappeaiance. In eaily wiitings Bauuiillaiu explaineu this phenomenon
using the allegoiy of Bisneylanu to captuie the iionies of this postmouein
That in an eia of hypeiieality, he aigues:

Bisneylanu is theie to conceal the fact that it is the 'ieal' countiy, all of 'ieal'
Ameiica, which is Bisneylanu. Bisneylanu is piesenteu as imaginaiy in oiuei to
make us believe that the iest is ieal, when in fact all of Los Angeles anu the

What Bauuiillaiu aigues is that it is impossible to locate the 'authentic'
Ameiica, yet fantastical theme paiks such as Bisneylanu piouuce oui 'ieality' of
Ameiica by concealing the fact that theie is effectively no uiffeience between the
two in an oiuei of simulation. In the allegoiy, the system of sign value puts
foiwaiu its othei as ieal - Bisneylanu- only in oiuei to excluue the ieal anu get
iiu of this othei. Similaily, with ait, Bauuiillaiu is saying that the function of ait
becomes one of concealing the fact that it has so thoioughly anu successfully
peivaueu othei spheies of social life (auveitising, fashion, politics etc) that we
can no longei single it out as uiffeient fiom any othei aesthetic mouality. See
}ean Bauuiillaiu, -AENKJD>J JMF -AENKJGA=M (Nichigan: 0niveisity of Nichigan
Piess, 1994)
Ameiica suiiounuing it aie no longei ieal, but of the oiuei of the hypeiieal anu
of simulation. It is no longei a question of a false iepiesentation of ieality
(iueology), but of concealing the fact that the ieal is no longei ieal, anu thus of
saving G:; >;JKAGH I>AMDAIK;.

As incoheient anu elastic a classification of ait may be, postmouein aitists like
}eff Koons, illustiateu an awaieness that they weie caught in a ieflective game
with the signs anu symbols of the woilu's film, auveitising, poinogiaphy anu pop
cultuie. They iealiseu ait can only evei exist as a simulation of itself. Koons
expiessing this self-awaieness in a moie oi less luciu oi kitsch fashion by
exploiting simulations ability to piouuce an othei to itself.
Theiefoie, as Butlei
points out, aftei simulation we aie only able to imagine this othei oi anteiioi to
simulation in teims of simulation itself.
Wheieby eveiything can only be
conceiveu of as though it weie simulateu, even if it is not. Simulation F=NOK;C the
woilu. Anu just like the ieal, it is nevei piesent, :;>;. It has always gone missing.
As Bauuiillaiu says:

To asseit that 'we'ie in a state of simulation' becomes meaningless, because at
that point one enteis a ueath-like state. The moment you believe that you'ie in a
state of simulation, you'ie no longei theie.

This 'othei' - 'ieality' - is only possible because of simulation, only leauing to a
fuithei extension of it.
Rex Butlei, Q;JM 5JNF>AKKJ>FR ):; /;B;MC; =B ):; %;JK (Lonuon: Sage
Publications, 1999) 4S
}ean Bauuiillaiu, 5JNF>AKKJ>F 'A@;R -;K;DG;F (MG;>@A;<CL eu. Nike uane (Lonuon:
Routleuge, 199S) 184
The pioblem Bauuiillaiu sets up is how to speak against this simulation when
theie is nothing to which to compaie it, when theie is nothing outsiue of it. This
is the hypothesis of simulation foi Bauuiillaiu, which is not only the loss of tiue
ieality, but also its veiy possibility. Thus Bauuiillaiu's hypothesis peimits the
aitificial ievival of the ieal that we see in the hypeiieal simulacium of }eff Koons.
In an iionic twist of ait histoiical fate, the simulateu kitsch veisions of Koons
seek not to uegiaue high-cultuie as it was with Waihol, but aim insteau at the
uegiauation of pop-cultuie thiough an obscene ovei-signification of meaning.

In citing the anomalous chaiacteis of Nichael }ackson in .AD:J;K QJD?C=M JMF
5NOOK;C (1988)L anu the Italian poinstai La Cicciolina thioughout the .JF; AM
!;J@;M (199u) seiies, Koons uemonstiates the state of affaiis wheieby sexual
uiffeience uisappeais thiough an inexoiable play between the signs of sex.

These 'mutants' as Bauuiillaiu iefeis to them, aie not lauueu by Koons foi theii
fetishistic qualities oi because they might challenge social iueals of ait oi
poinogiaphy as ait, but because theii confusion of the categoiies of sex, ieality,
anu iepiesentation, geneiates inuiffeience. Koons unfolus puie simulation
beyonu signification, a kinu of 'ovei-signification' wheie the ciiculation of signs
cieates an excess of meaning anu ieality- a nothingness. These woiks piouuce an

This is ievealeu most cleaily in Koons' attituue being uiiven towaiu self-
commouification, a gestuie that can only be iionic anu ambiguous; we can
suppose that Koons as a peison was valueless befoie having been commouifieu
into woiks of ait. As Alison uingeias suggests, "In the piocess of making .JF; AM
!;J@;M fiom 1989 to 1992, }eff Koons became }eff Koons. }eff Koons as we
know him touay was boin thiough poin."
This is emblematic of the ciiculation of a hypeiieality anu of hypeisexual signs
of sex in the visual spheies of auveitising anu fashion in paiticulai. Koons
uemonstiates that sex has become geneialiseu, it has become a sign oi a
iefeience to be siteu on the bouy, as opposeu to constituting uiffeience as it is
expeiienceu thiough the bouy.
absolute innocence wheie poinogiaphy anu ait become 'nothing'.
The bouy
'uisappeais' in Koons' meaningless poino-kitsch.

In the moie explicit muial-sizeu coloui images fiom .JF; AM !;J@;M UVVV C;>A;CW
of 199u, Koons ueploys his paiauoxical anu tautological ie-aiticulation of a
kitsch ieality as a kinu of non-aiticulateu nothingness that necessaiily iemains
beyonu all expiession.
. As Koons uesciibes, 'when the viewei sees it, they aie in
the iealm of the Sacieu Beait of }esus.
That is, in making all G== visible, all G==
ieal, Koons touches on the possibility of an image that tianscenuences the limits
of simulation, wheie the logic of the 'ieality piinciple' can be unueistoou in
teims of a 'subjunctive' manipulation of signs; the colonisation of obscenity by
the sign. Koons, aigues this point when he says, "I mean we've become uou.
That's the bottom line - we've become uou".
This stiategy of kitsch as a fatal
foim cieates a subjunctive hypeiieality fiom the woik, as a moue of
tianscenuence of the ieal. You coulu go fuithei as consiueiing them thieats to
mateiial actuality thiough theii tianscenuental stylization. By maiking off
poinogiaphy anu mateiial actuality as hypeiieal, these images piouuce an othei
to itself, a foitiess anu iesistance against any thoughts of obscenity anu ieality.

}ean Bauuiillaiu uiscusses this point fuithei in 5JNF>AKKJ>F 'A@;R -;K;DG;F
(MG;>@A;<CT eu. Nike uane (199S), he tells us that 'the piouuction of the bouy, the
piouuction of ueath, the piouuction of signs anu the piouuction of commouities-
these aie only moualities of one anu the same system'.
Thoisten Botz-Boinstein, 'The Aesthetics of Fiozen Bieams: Kitsch anu Anti-
Kitsch in }eff Koons anu Naiiko Noii', in &>G AM -=DA;GH 9, 2u1u
}eff Koons quoteu in Angelika Nuthesius, eu., Q;BB 2==MC, (Cologne, 1992) 1S6
To Quote Koons: "Ilona anu I weie boin foi each othei. She's a meuia woman.
I'm a meuia man. We aie the contempoiaiy Auam anu Eve. I believe totally that
I'm in the iealm of the spiiitual, now, with Ilona. Thiough oui union, we'ie
aligneu once again with natuie. ( E;JM <;X@; O;D=E; 0=FT ):JGXC G:; O=GG=E KAM; 4
<;X@; O;D=E; 0=F" }eff Koons, ):; Q;BB 2==MC !JMFO==? (New Yoik, 1992) 14u
All obscenity then, is consumeu by Koons thioughout his cieative piocess,
leaving the viewei to consiuei his spiiitual poino-kitsch simulations in a unique
subjunctive moue of hypeiieality.

In the sculptuial anu photogiaphic woiks of fiom his .JF; AM !;J@;M (199u)
seiiesL Koons stiategically ie-intiouuceu the aitificial ieal thiough uiffeience anu
otheiness, in an attempt to keep iefeientiality functioning, anu to foiestall the
total collapse of iepiesentation by playing on the signs inueteiminacy anu its
piomiscuity. Simulation in this sense is not a foim of illusion, but opposeu to
illusion, a way of getting iiu of the funuamental illusionality of the woilu. We can
only imagine oui woilu in its teims, which is the iesistance of the simulations
existence: its iesistance to being absoibeu into the illusion of 'ieality'.

Koons stateu that "I went thiough moial conflict. I coulu not sleep foi a long
time in piepaiation of my new woik. I hau to go to the uepths of my own
sexuality, my own moiality, to be able to iemove feai, guilt anu shame fiom
myself. All of this has been iemoveu foi the viewei." See }eff Koons quoteu in A.
Nuthesius, eu., Q;BB 2==MC (Cologne, 1992) 1S6

Bauuiillaiu, }ean. 'Tianspolitics, Tianssexuality, Tiansaesthetics', in William
Steains anu William Chaloupka eus, Q;JM 5JNF>AKKJ>FR ):; FACJII;J>JMD; =B J>G
JMF I=KAGADCT New Yoik: St Naitin's Piess, 1992

Bauuiillaiu, }ean. 5JNF>AKKJ>F 'A@;R -;K;DG;F (MG;>@A;<CL eu. Nike uane, Lonuon:
Routleuge, 199S

Bauuiillaiu, }ean. -AENKJD>J JMF -AENKJGA=MT Nichigan: 0niveisity of Nichigan
Piess, 1994

Bauuiillaiu, }ean. ):; 3=MCIA>JDH =B &>GT New Yoik anu Los Angeles: Semiotext(e),

Best, Steven. Kellei, Bouglas .):; #=CGE=F;>M )N>MT Lonuon: uuilfoiu Piess, 1997

Botz-Boinstein, Thoisten. 'The Aesthetics of Fiozen Bieams: Kitsch anu Anti-
Kitsch in }eff Koons anu Naiiko Noii', in &>G AM -=DA;GH 9, 2u1u

Butlei, Rex. Q;JM 5JNF>AKKJ>FR ):; /;B;MC; =B ):; %;JK. Lonuon: Sage Publications,

Bughes, Robeit. 'The Pation Saint of Neo-Pop', in ):; +;< "=>? %;@A;< =B 5==?C
(1992) S78-8u

Koons, }eff. ):; Q;BB 2==MC !JMFO==?. New Yoik: Rizzoli, 1992

Nuthesius, Angelika (eu). Q;BB 2==MC. Cologne, 1992

Toffoletti, Kim. 5JNF>AKKJ>F %;B>JE;FT Lonuon: I.B Tauiis, 2u11

Image iefeiences:

Anuy Waihol, 3JEIO;KKPC -=NI 3JMCL aciylic scieen piint on canvas, 1962

Anuy Waihol, .J>AKHM /AIGHD:L aciylic scieen piint on canvas, 1962


}eff Koons, Nichael }ackson anu Bubbles, poicelain, 1988

Jeff Koons, Ponies, 1991,
from the Made in
Heaven series, 1988-
1992, Oil inks
silkscreened on canvas,
90 x 60 inches, Courtesy
Luxembourg & Dayan,
New York


Jeff Koons, Fingers Between Legs, 1990, Oil inks silkscreened on canvas, 95.8
x 144.1 inches, Courtesy Luxembourg & Dayan, New York

Jeff Koons, Silver Shoes, 1991, Oil inks silkscreened on canvas, 95.8 x 144.1
inches, Courtesy Luxembourg & Dayan, New York