Society of Simulations

Simulations are now more meaningful than the reality they represent

The media have become our filters through which we survey the world around us. We see more images every day than a person living in the Middle Ages in a whole lifetime. Plastic surgeons sculpt flesh to match retouched photographs in glossy magazines. Virtual computer worlds are becoming increasingly ‘real’ and blended with our physical world. People drink beverages with non-existing fruit flavors. We wage war on video screens. Birds mimic mobile–phone ring tones. Do we still have genuine experiences at all, or are we living in a Society of Simulations?

A Society of Simulations

ESSAY BY Van Mensvoort
April 13th 2009

An interviewer once asked Pablo Picasso why he paints such strange pictures instead of painting things the way they are. Picasso asks the man what he means. The man then takes out a photograph from his wallet and says, “This is my wife!”. Picasso looks at the photo and then says: “Isn’t she rather short and flat?”.


This essay aims to increase our understanding of simulations and their impact on our notion of reality. Following on some observations regarding the dominant role of visual representations in our culture, I will argue that we are now living in a society, in which simulations are often more influential, satisfying and meaningful than the things they are presumed to represent.…

Sight: As Second Life becomes First Life

This short, created by Eran May-raz and Daniel Lazo, portrays a speculative future wherein we all walk around with contact lens-like devices that augment our reality.

Out of Network

Santiago Zabala
April 18th 2013

When we type “Flickr” or “Facebook” or “YouTube” into a browser, we seek to enter social networks and enjoy secure communication and interaction with a vast number of online users from around the world.…

Michael Najjar – High Altitude

Van Mensvoort
August 9th 2011

The rock formations in the High Altitude photo series don't exist physically, yet they are very present in our society of simulations.…

Norwegian boy saves sister from moose attack using world of warcraft skills

Van Mensvoort
May 31st 2010

Hans Jørgen Olsen, a 12-year-old Norwegian boy, saved himself and his sister from a moose attack using skills he picked up playing the online role playing game World of Warcraft..…