Golden, Baudrillard, and the Sixth Dimension
French theorist Baudrillard once said, “Digitality is with us. It is that which haunts all the messages, all the signs of our societies. The most concrete form you see it in is that of the test, of the question/answer, of the stimulus/response”2. We live in the age of information. With the rise of technology saturating nearly every facet of our lives, one work in The Museum of Contemporary Art’s “Room to Live” exhibition, Samara Golden’s The Fireplace, 2013, addresses and brings this phenomenon to light. The frenetic three-channel video installation houses items including make shift vintage 3D glasses and a loveseat constructed entirely out of Rmax foam insulation. The artist then utilizes these elements to encourage the audience to form the eventual perception of simultaneously existing within numerous spaces while still remaining within a singular space.
With the projection of Golden’s face shielding her eyes, the attempt to hide from the overflow of outside information seems to maintain its relevance in a society where, as Baudrillard states, “there is more and more information, and less and less meaning.” As with many of Golden’s other works, such as her Bad Brains, 2012 installation, the space introduces an unshakable sense of displacement, or what Golden has dubbed as “entering the sixth dimension1”, a realm that exists on a plane entirely separate from our own reality. The installation seamlessly allows its virtual elements to coexist with the tangible, resulting in dual realities that occupy a single space in both the work’s modestly sized room, as well as within the viewer’s mind. Through this, and because each viewer is influenced by their own varying life experiences, any number of realities can, and do, exist.
The exploration of Golden’s sixth dimension seems to be most clearly understood through the lens of Baudrillard’s perception of the hyper-real, where the existence of these separate realities muddles the viewer’s ability to differentiate between what is real and what is a simulation. With the mind-numbing glare of perpetually flickering images, the viewer is transported into the infinite void of the virtual, an interesting predicament considering the imagery utilized in the hovering screen photo collage are all photographs depicting aspects of Golden’s personal life. With each layer of reality presented, even certain tangible aspects of the installation exist as a sort of pseudo-reality. The best example of this is the chair in the center of the installation. Upon inspection the chair seems sturdy enough to support quite a few people, but after some pressure has been applied to it, the seat proves to be nothing more than a flimsy replica, negating its perceived purpose.
Enter the sixth dimension. The real is no longer the only real and the technology is consuming. The viewer is sucked into a vortex of information where illusions become reality, leaving behind a confused mass of jumbled remnants of what was once initially perceived as the only reality. “The real is not only what can be reproduced, but that which is already reproduced, the hyper-real2.” This notion seems to fall perfectly in line with Golden’s intent to create a space where multiple times and multiple realities exist, while all simultaneously true. This in turn reroutes any perceived certainty of previously held conceptions of truth, resulting in an ever-present cyclone of reality. Always turning, always changing, and always inhaling any outside information made available to it with a complete disregard for those caught in its path.
- MOCAtv. “Samara Golden on The Fireplace – MOCA U.” Online video clip. MOCA, 10 February 2014. Web. 11 February 2014.
- Baudrillard, Jean. Simulations. New York City: Semitext(e), 1983. Print.