Witness a can of Coca-Cola as it passes through various stages of being:
Stage One: The can exists in physical reality.
Stage Two: The can becomes a power up for the 1988 32-bit arcade game, Bad Dudes.
Stage Three: The can becomes a power up for the 1990 8-bit NES version of the 32-bit arcade game, Bad Dudes.
Stage Four: The 8-bit degenerative form of the can is superimposed over the original.
This is a physical manifestation of a pataphor – essentially an extention of a metaphor in which the degree of separation from reality is taken a step further.
An example of a pataphor from the Wikipedia entry on ‘Pataphysics:
Tom and Alice stood side by side in the lunch line.
Tom and Alice stood side by side in the lunch line, two pieces on a chessboard.
Tom took a step closer to Alice and made a date for Friday night, checkmating. Rudy was furious at losing to Margaret so easily and dumped the board on the rose-colored quilt, stomping downstairs.
Thus, the pataphor has created a world where the chessboard exists, including the characters who live in that world, entirely abandoning the original context.
The final iteration of the soda can in this fascinating simulacrum loop is the work of Atlanta-based artist Ashley Anderson. I came across the image in his photostream a couple of months ago, and wasn’t sure how to wrap my head around it intellectually until I started reading Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation. I’m still not sure I’ve got it entirely right, but it’s an adventurous concept, nonetheless.
I dare you to disagree.
No, seriously – I want someone smarter than me to comment on this. I’m not that educated.