Hyperreality in the Context of Postmodernism

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Hyperreality In The Context of Postmodernism

Firstly I am going to examine the terms of hyperreality and begin to put it into context in terms of Postmodernism. In order to fully understand the true meaning of hyperreallity I want to look at the roots of the word ‘hyper’ and ‘reality’. The word hyper is commonly referred to energy and excitement, for instance for someone’s behaviour to be more active than normal: beyond the normal amount. Hyper also is a prefix for many words. The word reality refers to the world or the state of things, as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them. So putting both ‘hyper’ and ‘reality’ together to form hyperreality we are indeed blending reality and fiction. Jean Baudrilliard provides a simple, and yet very deep, example of hyperreality at work all around us: ‘American is neither dream nor reality. It is a hyperreality. It is a hyperreality because it is a utopia, which has behaved from the very beginning as though it were already achieved. Everything here is real and pragmatic, and yet it is all the stuff of dreams too’ (Baudrilliard 1989:28) So in my opinion hyperreality refers simply to an image that is more real than the thing it’s supposed to represent or a replica of something that never actually existed. In the 1940’s Postmodernism was considered to be impossible to define, simply suggesting that it was a modern movement of architecture. Since the theory of Postmodernism was founded it became considerably poplar within the academic system, besides solely being interlinked with literary criticism and architecture It now finds itself overloaded with meaning and connected with social theory, cultural and media studies, visual arts, philosophy and history.

A great example of hyperreality that I particularly like is Bicester Village, which indeed is situated in Bicester, a small town within Oxfordshire. I feel that you can really get a substantial understanding of hyperreality when studying this purpose built shopping environment. Bicester Village, a postmodernism leisure environment built directly in the heart of Bicester offers everything a traditional high street would but is in fact situated in an English market town as an outlet centre offering several high-end brands including Ralph Lauren, Juicy Couture, Superdry, Jack Wills, Gucci, Diesel, UGG and many more as well as offering a small number of restaurants and cafes. All stores stock end-of-line products that are roughly reduced from up to 60% off the original price, which is one of the reasons it is so popular. Annually the village is visited by more than 3 million customers from all over the world, branding it the leading outlet shopping destination in Europe and a major International tourist attraction. These facts above in particular really don’t surprise me; in my opinion the reason the village is so popular could be due to the fact of how you get lost in translation and forget that the setting is just that, a setting of hyperreality. The customers find themselves participating in the fantasy because of his own authenticity as a consumer (Eco, 1990:41). You really do feel completely different from when shopping in your local town centre, the atmosphere is completely different, but how can that be when surrounded partly by the same shops. A powerful impact of today’s architecture.

I now want to investigate Disneyland and Disneyworld, two great mammoth examples of hyperreality. Like all postmodern theorists stress ‘Disneyland (California and Paris) and Disneyworld (Florida) are obviously the chief examples.’ (Eco, 1990:40). The scale of both parks is somewhat amazing. Disneyworld opened in 1971, covering 30,500 acres packed with fantasy. It offers four theme parks and two water parks which include Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney’s Blizzard Beach, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and more than 20 hotels on the property. Not to...
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