“Reality is frequently inaccurate. ” “In cases of major discrepancy it’s always reality that’s got it wrong. ” – Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe | Hyperrealism is a post-modernist theory that’s not to be mistaken as a movement in Western philosophy, but rather an art that incorporates the ‘real’ world’s highly realistic surroundings in an unusual, very different and appealing manner which creates a false reality for the audience. Post-modernism is a way of thinking which challenges the modernism for its adherence to fundamental truth, called ‘meta-narratives’.
Post-modernism views ‘reality’ as unreal, or one which can be understood in different stories or ‘narratives’. This can be best understood as the fact that in any group of people, anything will be described in many different ways, depending on the person’s viewpoint. Hyperrealism uses the imagination to trick the viewer. Human perception cannot tell between what is real and what is imagined. Hyperrealism evolved from the photorealism movement in the art world which came about in 1973 when a Belgian named Isy Brachot coined the term in one of his art exhibitions in France.
Many other photo realists were there at the time such as: Ralph Goings who is best known for his highly detailed paintings of hamburger stands, pick-up trucks, and California banks, portrayed in a deliberately objective manner, Chuck Close who is best known for his detailed portrait paintings or extreme close ups on a specific body part, Don Eddy who is best known for his amazing landscape hyperrealist paintings , Robert Bechtle who is best known for his realistic paintings of the neighbourhoods and streets and Richard McLean just to name a few.
However in the early 21st century hyperrealism was formed on the principles of photo realism. Hyperrealist painters and sculptors used photographic images as a reference source which was then changed using different textures, surfaces, lighting effects, and shadows to change the image or object to seem even more realistic, definite and detailed as if to seem the audience was right there however they aren’t which creates a false reality in which the audience think they could actually see or even feel the object unlike photorealism which relies on the narrative and emotional back story f the painting and/or photograph much like pop art where photorealism originated from. Hyper reality calls on the very close resemblance between a photo and a hyper-real painting which resembles the reality of the scene in the original photograph, but changes the image so that the viewer cannot really tell between the two. In this highly technically developed era, when everyone has access to mobile images which seem real, this experience is common. One example is the way people today exploring social media and internet gaming and lose touch with the distinction between the ‘real’ and the ‘virtual’.
Postmodern philosophers suggest that hyperrealist tricks involve the emotional detachment because of the sensation of ‘being in a movie’. Disneyland is a good example of hyper reality because it has over exaggerated a real life scenario in an animation way such as the ugly ogre Shrek falling in love and getting married to the beautiful princess Fiona in a real life scenario which suggests that in real life that even if you have an ugly appearance it doesn’t really matter.
So-called ‘reality’ TV, staged, edited and scripted versions of real life events continue this illusion. The Wikipedia source used for this essay suggests that professional sports are another example, where athletes are seen to be super-human, one thinks of lance Armstrong and Oscar Pistorius however they are only depicted as super human through media using hyper reality. The Hyperrealist style focuses and emphasis on details and the subjects.
Hyper real paintings and sculptures are not strict interpretations of photographs, nor are they literal illustrations of a particular scene or subject. Instead, they utilize additional, often subtle, pictorial elements to create the illusion of a reality which in fact does not exist. They may incorporate emotional, social, cultural and political elements as an extension of the paintings visual illusion. However in theatre, hyperrealism is the use of these forms that represent everyday life in a way which takes enormous discipline and rigour on the part of the actor.
Artists who produce real work which looks like a photograph have to master much greater skill and are in fact celebrating the beauty in the ordinary. There is a magical quality to art in this genre, which provides a fresh take on things as well as actors who produce a scene or play that is very realistic takes time and rigorous training to make the scene seem very hyper realistic as if it’s actually happening much like ‘reality’ TV programs or WWE smack down.
If we look deeper into the theatre side of hyperrealism. It was developed through the same movement after paintings and sculptures but focused on real life situations which people would be in and would realistically act them out but would do it so defiantly that the audience cannot tell the difference between the fake reality of the play or scene and actually reality. This is not only done through the conflict between characters, clothes worn and lighting… ut also through set which in my opinion would be the most important. For the audience to really feel and see the scene to be realistic they need to be part of it. Therefore the audience would be seated on stage in which the actors would be acting around them as if they are right in the middle and part of the scene of that actual scenario. For example reality TV like ‘The Kardashians’ is used in how we think how people act realistically only because of how it’s filmed however it’s scripted and edited.
Another example is something like ‘Glee’, where modern day situations are happening constantly in a modern very realistic environment. All of a sudden they starting singing and dancing in which the audience will think it is normal and realistic because the acting and staging before makes it seem normal and realistic which has created a hyper realistic mentality and a fake reality for the audience.
An example for theatre would be where everyone is at a park sitting down relaxing and having a picnic, when a couple all of a sudden gets up and starts fighting and they end up breaking up in a scripted scene. This would make everyone around them be involved in the fake hyper realistic reality as its set in an everyday realistic stage with the acting and conflict/s being much like modern day realistic fights.
A hyper realist theorist Jean Baudrillard suggests through his quote, “A real without origin or reality” that even the world we live in is fake, a copy world that is based on hyper realism and a fake reality, as we live to seek simulated stimuli and nothing more. Therefore all hyperrealist theatre, art and sculptures interpret real life and how people want to be in those real life realistic situations so they feel like a ‘god’ like athletes or ‘famous’ like reality TV stars even though it’s a fake reality.