---- by Gary Genosko
  Baudrillard's thinking about models had two distinct phases. The first belonged to the period of The System of Objects (1996a [1968]) in which he worked through the difference between models and series; the second emerged in his critical writing on communication theory in For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign (1981 [1972]).
  Baudrillard introduced the models/series distinction to characterise the modern object of industrial production. Pre-industrial artisanal production of period furniture generated models whose status was imbued with the transcendent social reality of those who owned them. Class separated models from series that did not yet properly exist. With serial production, models lose their exalted status and social specificity and enter into the everyday universe of accessible (through credit) functional objects. Models are diffused through series, and series internalise models and cling to them. Some objects apparently have no models - like small household appliances - while others like certain dresses and automobiles manage to retain luxury and exclusivity.
  The more specific an object's function, the less likely the models/series distinction will apply. The more personalised (accessorised) an object is, by selecting cultural markers of distinction like colour or detailing, the more serial objects paradoxically claim something of the status of models. Modelisation proves to be only a variant of serialisation as marginal differences support personalisation: 'every object is a model, yet at the same time there are no more models' (SO, 142). Nonetheless, cultural consumption moves from series to models as the latter are conductive ideas of absolute difference ('originals'). The model's singularity is signified by the user's strategies of personalisation by means of serialisations in a systembound, internal transcendence.
  One of the key markers of serial objects, claimed Baudrillard, is their shoddiness, a result of inessential qualities, and they are found in cluttered interiors, while models allegedly last longer, are nuanced and sit well; similarly, series are mainly pastiche and models have an open-ended syntax. In our world of objects, regression in time unites models and antiques, whereas serial objects belong to the flea market and are hard to date. Ultimately, series will not rejoin models for 'the only progression possible here is up the ladder of objects, but this is a ladder that leads nowhere' (SO, 154).
  Mass media 'fabricate non-communication' (CPS, 169). This modelling process precludes a genuine space of reciprocal exchange governed by mutual, personal responsibility. Baudrillard rejects outright transmission models of communication that make genuine exchange impossible; thus, the type of reciprocal communication Baudrillard has in mind is ruled out in the mass media. Mediatic non-communication is unilateral, excludes response and monopolises speech, reserving a controlled space for feedback. Restoration of the symbolic responses is still possible, yet media without response and consumption that takes without giving are hard to break. Social isolation, indifference and pseudo-competition are persistent barriers.
  The dreams of May 1968 and the Yippies in the US have operated under a 'strategic illusion'. Media spread news of the actions of student revolutionaries, but this is not subversive:
  By broadcasting the events in the abstract universality of public opinion, they imposed a sudden and inordinate development on the movement of events; and through this forced and anticipated extension, they deprived the original movement of its own rhythm and of its meaning. In a word: they short-circuited it. (CPS, 173)
  Baudrillard favoured artisanal production, graffiti, homemade signage, to-and-fro banter and discussion, new modes of collective activity and expression: symbolic reciprocity destroys media (as intermediary, as technical structure, as social form).
  Baudrillard's truncated version of Roman Jakobson's (1960) poetic model of communication is:
  Baudrillard telescoped Jakobson's concepts into a fatal formula: the 'vectorization' of a communication process into a single message issued unidirectionally from either encoder to decoder or decoder to encoder. Thus communication claims objectivity and scientificity yet is built on 'ideological categories that express a certain type of social relation, namely, . . . one speaks and the other doesn't . . . one has the choice of the code . . . the other only liberty to acquiesce or abstain' (CPS, 178-9). Much of this analysis exposed the ideological imbalances lurking in what appeared to be structural correspondences. The kind of communication that Jakobson's model suggests is presented by Baudrillard in terms of a mutually exclusive polarity of encoder and decoder artificially held apart and simulacrally reunited by an 'inter-medium' of the coded message: The social relation in question excludes reciprocity. The code/message terrorises communication by positioning the encoder and decoder in an 'abstract separateness', while privileging the sender (strategic value). Jakobson's phatic function (contact that checks whether the channel is working) in his model of communication, for instance, is evidence for Baudrillard of the distance between the poles and an alibi for the communication that the model promises but actually simulates. Baudrillard claims that it is the code that speaks since it dictates the unidirectional passage of information and guarantees the legibility, univocality (or multivocality, as it hardly matters for Baudrillard who dismisses ambiguity and polysemy) and 'autonomous value' of the message, conceived as information.
  Generally, the term model helped Baudrillard pose and explore the problem of simulation as belonging to an order beyond the truth or falsehood of representation and characterised by unidentifiable determinations, unlocatable distinctions, incessant circulation, undecidable and profligate interpretability. Disneyland is a model of all the orders of simulation (SS), yet simulation itself is defined as the precession of models because 'models come first' (SS, 16) - like language in relation to speech and codes in relation to messages - and they are the sites from which all facts and interpretations are derived. Models have generative force, just as the interdependency of signifiers produce meaning effects (signifieds), or needs are effects of the system of objects in a society of consumption. Precession is Baudrillard's keyword for the confusion between real and model, watcher and watched, active and passive, in which 'it becomes impossible to locate one instance of the model' (SS, 29). Precession precipitates implosion and implosion entails indifferentiation. Such is the predicament of simulation and the sad destiny of communication.
   § city
   § may 1968
   § media
   § object
   § simulation

The Baudrillard dictionary. . 2015.


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