---- by John Armitage
  That philosophical approach whereby Baudrillard considers questions of postmodern art as the inability of modern art to fulfil the utopian aesthetic of modernity. Baudrillard argues that postmodern art testifies to modern art's incapacity to surpass itself and become a perfect form of existence. He contends that, rather than being the source of an inspirational ideal, postmodern art has melted into the contemporary aestheticisation of everyday life, within the unadulterated flow of images or the transaestheticisation of banality. Baudrillard argues in The Conspiracy of Art (2005b) that the vital figure of modern art was Marcel Duchamp, whose art, by rejecting its own aesthetic laws, metamorphosed into transaesthetics or the banality of the image. What is at issue is the eruption of new transaesthetic forms into recognised cultural practices. Modern art thus engaged an established cultural tradition while its secrets inadvertently highlighted the initiatory nature of symbolic exchange.
  Baudrillard proposes in The Ecstasy of Communication (1988c [1987b]) and The Perfect Crime (1996c [1995a]) that transaesthetic forms strive for 'culture' by creating spaces of initiation, types of exchange, semiotics and simulation in anticipation of critical or ironic reactions. Andy Warhol is significant for Baudrillard because Warhol's art communicates the innovation of the eruption of simulation while exploring new forms of seduction, the object and the event. In Fatal Strategies (2008a [1983]) and The Conspiracy of Art (2005b), Baudrillard suggests that Warholian visual pleasure is pure fascination with the eruption of the commodity as a new form of vertiginous obscenity. Postmodern artworks can thus be understood as novel and victorious fetishes that function to deconstruct their own conventional powers of illusion, to gleam magnificently in the untainted obscenity of the commodity. According to Baudrillard, Charles Baudelaire established the concept of the 'absolute commodity', motivating Baudrillard to characterise the contemporary object as that which must destroy itself as a recognisable object and become hideously alien. Such an absolute commodity burns with an absolute seduction that arrives from elsewhere, that arrives from having surpassed its own form and become pure object and event, where the only genuine aesthetic or metaphysical reaction is mocking and festive in the face of the challenge that the eruption of new transaesthetic forms symbolise.
  Today it is a matter of posing fresh critical questions and of discovering appropriate confirmatory answers to them as Baudrillard believed that most contemporary answers were wide of the mark. Postmodern artworks must therefore be more than reappropriations of the artworks of days gone by, expressions of satirical wit or disenchantment, hoaxes or culled from advertising imagery; they call for an art beyond the irony of penitence and bitterness towards contemporary culture. Postmodern art is not just extreme cynicism. Expressions are not just history plundered in anticipation of salvation. For Baudrillard, one must oppose this apparently final phase of art history.
  The trajectory taken by transaesthetics leaves us with Baudrillard's The Transparency of Evil (1993b [1990a]), with its move into indeterminacy, into reversibility and uncertainty that characterise the switch from the third to the fourth order of simulation. Advancing beyond alienation, transaesthetics pursues the object as strange attractor and as lack of determinancy as to the location of the subject concerning the other. As Baudrillard asserts, postmodern artworks signify the ending of the Marxian dialectic, bringing about fourth-order simulated aesthetic sequences and eternal replication, a new state of affairs that exceeds all previous aesthetic antagonisms. Once unchained from reality, then, postmodern artworks become more real than real: hyper-real.
  It was in truth with pop art that transaesthetics began, that transaesthetics transformed into the ironic force of the hyper-real, of the hyper-real as the escalation of reality. In the transaesthetic of the real every aesthetic form becomes uninterested in itself, having left its own former authority behind. In the transaesthetic of the real, therefore, no aesthetic form clashes with any other. Consequently, while postmodern art movements continue on with a dazzling ability, they are simultaneously abandoned by the masses, and we encounter the demise of fixed aesthetic borders and the rapid immobilisation of postmodern artworks that function within a network of negativity, as an effect of their intensity, a perspective that arises from Warhol's 1962 work, 32 Campbell's Soup Cans. As such transaesthetics evokes critical questions: how does Warhol liberate us from the requirement to choose between the genuine and the artificial? Or, finally, what is that radical fetishism outside alienation that ironically performs its own strangeness, elevated to perfection, making it possible, once more, for the spectacle of the void to emerge?
   § art
   § hyper-reality
   § object
   § postmodernism / postmodernity
   § reversibility
   § simulation

The Baudrillard dictionary. . 2015.

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