The intention of the project “Crises of Reality” is to rethink and reconsider the term ‘reality’ in light of its liquidation by postmodernism, re-conception as mental fabrication by constructivists, re-interpretation by Speculative Realism, rehabilitation by New Realism, and recent skewing by 'reality television'. We seek to address simple yet provocative questions: Of what use is the term reality today? What kind of reality can be attributed to fictions, simulations, and the virtual? To what extent can reality be considered a field of interest? Does the phrase “to produce new realities”, often used among artists and Silicon Valley developers alike, have a dark side? Can we, perhaps, even get along without the notion of ‘reality’? In short: Does reality have a future? And is this future merely the ‘future of an illusion’?
At least 1500 years of philosophy got along perfectly well without ‘reality’. The term derives from the Latin word ‘res’, for ‘thing’. The word ‘realitas’ was then introduced by the Latin-writing medieval philosopher Duns Scotus, translating ‘reality’ from Arab say’iyya ('thingishness'); the term was meant to designate what made a thing a thing. However, Greek philosophy, among others, did not have similar word. Indeed, it is only since Immanuel Kant that we are used to thinking that it is subjective reference, the cognitive act of referring to a thing as factually given that turns a thing into a real thing – and thus that reality is the set of things we refer to as givens.
Seen from this angle, reality might be a concept that no longer suits current modes of thought and culture. But if so, how could it be replaced? And what would we lose if we had to replace it?