The advent of CGI (computer-generated imagery) techniques has given birth to virtual photography. There is no need to have a referent from nature to create a space with a 3D software; everything could come from artists’ imaginations and be photographed in a virtual studio.
Regarding the virtual, Jean Baudrillard stated that is the phase of the ‘murder of the sign’. He always questioned the arbitrarity of linguistics and the existence of reality. The sign defined by Saussure is formed by the signifier, signified and referent. The ‘signifier’ refers to the word; the ‘signified’ refers to the concept, and the ‘referent’ is the real world. According to Baudrillard in The intelligence of evil or the lucidity pact (2005), virtuality is the process where the whole universe of meanings loses its referents. As an example, he mentioned the Lascaux Caves in France, which are famous for their Paleolithic animal paintings:
“The original has been closed for many years, and it is the simulacrum, Lascaux 2, which visitors queue for. Most of them no longer even know it is a simulacrum. There is no longer any indication of the original anywhere. This is a sort of prefiguration of the world that await us: a perfect copy, which we shall not even know to be a copy.”
Simulacrum is the process when the copy loses connection to the referent, but there is still a reminiscence of reality. The posterior stage is virtuality, which consists on the abolishment of all referents. About the future Baudrillard shows his optimistic side, he states that the advent of 3D would confer society an ‘objective irony’ that make us increasingly disbelieve everything we see, which, in a way could bring us a ‘new freedom’.