Humans always have a tendency to copy and this includes artistic forms.
“Humans are incessant imitators,” says Prof Lawrence Rosenblum, a psychologist at University of California. (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100805103907.htm)
One of the earliest records of this was in 600 BC when Dibutades, an ancient Greek, modeled a face out of clay from an outline his daughter had made of her lovers shadow on the wall.
Jean-Baptiste Regnault (1785)
This idea was about holding onto reality, which is another human desire. Reality, however is transient, therefore not permanent so we try to create different realities using different technologies.
Plato (427-347 BC), a Greek philosopher believed in the absolute truth, which came from reality. For example he believed a tree was a tree no matter that no two look alike. For him true reality was the perfect form and not a copy of something. A copy of reality is not reality itself, just as all art is a copy. He believed that a copy did not add anything to our perception of reality and that everyone has there own interpretation of reality.
Allegory of the Cave
This is a story about appearance versus reality told by Plato of a group of men tied up in a cave with their backs to a fire and the entrance of the cave. Shadows are cast by a puppeteer on the wall in front of these men. These shadows are their reality but after one prisoner escapes and loses his apprehensiveness about the outside world he realises that the shadows were only a copy of the reality the puppeteer wanted to show. Once he is released outside the cave he further sees his reflection in the water and realises this is a copy of the reality. His perception of reality changes because he realises the shadows on the cave and his reflection are a copy of reality. When he returns to the cave and explains his reality, the rest of the men think he has gone mad. They have different perceptions of their reality. The shadows on the wall represent the world seen around us, which we assume to be real, but is actually just a imitation of the real. Plato also suggested we are a slave to our senses in that we use our sight to see things that are a copy of reality and hear things to substantiate this. This allegory was also Plato’s way of describing how humans are controlled by others and how we do not necessarily like to experience new things.
Plato believes that art is not part of reality and therefore pointless because it does not add anything to reality.
Aristotle (384-322 BC) believed imitation was a good thing and a natural and normal instinct of human nature. He believed simulations could benefit education, emotions and life in general.
Charles s Pierce developed the term indexicality, therefore communication through signs.
Index Signs-A trace of reality and not a copy.
A photo is a trace of reality because it is an exact copy of the subject and therefore closer to reality than a drawing or painting.
A camera obscura was the earliest experience of virtual reality because the resulting image occurred in real time though it was inverted.